Most people can tell you where they were on April 26 of this year when the Jacksonville Jaguars were on the clock. Some were on their floors, wiggling back and forth, belly laughing at their televisions. Others were breaking devices and cussing a storm.
But when the news broke that New York Giants drafted Daniel Jones with the sixth overall selection, MetLife Stadium looked like the loser of an election rather than a draft party.
— BigBlueVCR (@BigBlueVCR) April 26, 2019
Almost five months since the Giants’ new franchise quarterback was greeted with boos; he heard chants in his first start. Giants coach Pat Shurmur made the call to bench veteran Eli Manning after two lackluster performances to begin the season.
It’s going to be hard imagining ever seeing him get the start under center again in the big blue.
While Giants fans believed they lost in April with Jones, he won in September. They say football is a team sport, but Sunday was the Jones show. Displaying pocket presence, awareness and leadership skills, the former Duke signal-caller picked up his first victory, beginning a new era for Giants fans in East Rutherford.
Oh, and making draft analysts feel foolish for calling him one of the “worst picks” in the modern era.
Quit Jonesing around
Jones shined in the preseason, looking like the best rookie quarterback in the draft. That was against second-stringers and practice squad members. Without having a fair shot at competing for the starting gig, many believed Jones would show limitations in his first career start.
Overall, the preseason transitioned into games that matter, with Jones looking like the real deal. From intermediate passes to evading pressure, the top-10 pick played up to his draft stock.
THE LEGEND OF DANIEL JONES GROWS.
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 22, 2019
Even when down 28-10 at halftime, Jones didn’t allow it to affect his composure. Scoring on back to back drives, the Giants would chip away at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lead thanks to the rookie quarterback’s ability to reach the end zone. Throwing a pair of touchdowns, including a 75-yard shot to Evan Engram, Jones commanded the offense, leading the charge and bringing joy to Giants fans.
And when his team called on him late, Jones delivered once more.
Trusting his legs rather than making a risky throw, Jones sprinted up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown, giving the Giants their first lead of the game. A missed field goal from Matt Gay helped give New York their first win. Jones, however, was the x-factor.
“There’s certain things that I knew about this kid when we drafted him. He was tough, he was competitive, and in my opinion he’s a winner,” Shurmur said. “Now the rest of it is just quarterback stuff. But those first three things give him a chance to move forward.”
Rookies will always make mistakes, and Jones is no exception. He’d throw an interception, fumble on a stripped pass and overshoot his targets. Still, the good outweighed the bad and made the Giants relevant in the positive light for the first time in years.
When general manager Dave Gettleman made the call, some believed he ruined the Giants. With players such as Jonah Williams, Josh Allen and Ed Oliver still on the board, it’s easy to believe this was the wrong call.
Say New York drafted one of those players and then traded up to draft their franchise quarterback. Would he be receiving the same slack? Instead, Gettleman found his man, and it’s looking like it will play in his favor.
One start won’t define a player’s career. Jones still has a long way to go. Granted, Tampa Bay’s defense is nothing to write home about, but they’ve improved from a season ago. Either way, Jones looked like a veteran under center despite never making a start.
The legend of Daniel Jones has officially begun ? pic.twitter.com/IQ5q8EpyY3
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 22, 2019
New York is far from a contender, but the quarterback of the future is likely in the building. Should Jones continue to grow, the Giants will be able to surround him with talent for years to come. It’s too early to call him either a bust or breakout star, but the young quarterback is trending in the right direction.
When a team drafts a quarterback early, they want to see production. In his first start, Jones produced all over the field. And it might be time for scouts to re-evaluate his film to see what they missed.
The Two Minute Warning is back for another week. Several quarterbacks made their first starts of the season. For some, they’ll have their team looking like contenders. Others are likely fill-guys until the foreseeable future. Let’s dive around the NFL and check out how each team fared out.
But first, we have another chapter in the 2019 Antonio Brown saga to discuss.
Buh Bye Brown
Following a Sports Illustrated article by Robert Klemko, the New England Patriots elected to part ways with the troubled wide receiver. Antonio Brown was accused of sexual assault charges earlier this month by his former training, citing emails exchanged between the two.
“We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time,” The Browns said in a statement Friday.
Days following his release, Brown took to social media stating he would not play after failing to be paid once again by New England’s owner Robert Kraft. The free-agent wideout also called out several others, including Kraft and Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe for their misconducts in the past.
Will not be playing in the @NFL anymore these owners can cancel deals do whatever they want at anytime we will see if the @NFLPA hold them accountable sad they can just void guarantees anytime going on 40m 2 months will see if they pay up !
— AB (@AB84) September 22, 2019
Those tweets would be later deleted.
In less than six months, the 31-year-old has been a part of three organizations. The Pittsburgh Steelers were willing to eat over $8 million to trade him, Oakland’s drama eventually leads to his release, and New England no longer wanted to stand behind their recent acquisition.
Teams will always look at a player’s track record before signing them. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, several teams who are interested in signing him want more information surrounding his past events before beginning to negotiate.
Brown’s attitude and past have finally caught up with him. It doesn’t matter if he wants to play in “this” NFL; no one is willing to sign him for the time being. Until the case has been put to rest, it will be hard to see a franchise standing behind Brown while justifying his innocence is worth the drama.
In an interview earlier this year, Brown stated he did not need the game of football. Congratulations Mr. Brown, you might have gotten your wish. Whether he wants it or not, the game no longer wants him, and won’t for the foreseeable future.
Allen alive in Charlotte?
A tweet came across my timeline today. Confused, I had to check in on the game unfolding in Carolina. As the whistle finally blew, a thought crossed my mind.
Is Cam Newton holding the Panthers back?
In his first start this season, Kyle Allen outperformed the former MVP in just 60 minutes. Throwing for 261 yards and four touchdowns, the former Texas A&M and Houston product led the way and helped the Panthers picked up their first win of the season.
Consistently making good decisions and connecting his targets, Allen made the Panthers look like potential contenders. With a wide-open NFC South, Carolina has re-entered the mix and could, at bare minimum, make a push for a playoff spot.
— NFL (@NFL) September 22, 2019
Is Allen a better quarterback than Newton? Most would say. In fact, all should say now. But should the Panthers start him until they can further diagnose Newton’s injury? Perhaps. Allen looked like a game manager, but that’s all the team needed to win against the Arizona Cardinals.
Much like Jones, it’s hard to judge his outing due to the roster they faced. Outside of Miami, Arizona is near the bottom of every ranking, specifically on defense. But Newton has struggled to move the ball and find the end zone. For the season, he’s yet to score a touchdown.
Allen quadrupled that in one afternoon.
Rudolph rough, but the Steelers defense could be the problem
In his first real start, Mason Rudolph made five strong throws. Two would go for deep touchdowns and give Pittsburgh the lead. Outside of that, the second-year quarterback looked like a guy making his first NFL start.
But even with the addition of former first-round defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers’ defense will ultimately be their downfall. In coverage, the linebackers looked lost. They couldn’t pressure Jimmy Garoppolo, allowing him to make a late push and find Dante Pettis to the ultimate deciding score.
The secondary wasn’t much better. Fitzpatrick made five tackles, forced a fumble, and hauled in an interception. Outside of him, it was a bad day for the unit. The Steelers allowed big-time plays and ultimately were the reason Pittsburgh would begin the season 0-3.
In 12 drives this year, Pittsburgh’s second-half defense has allowed six touchdowns. In the past two weeks, they’ve been the reason why Seattle and San Francisco were able to compete for the comeback. An offense determines the game while the defense must playoff that production. In two games, Pittsburgh’s offense did enough to get them the win, but the defense came up short.
Pittsburgh is at best an average team. Rudolph’s ceiling is likely that of a low-end starter to career backup. But even though he struggled, two throws helped the Steelers take the lead.
And one pass ultimately led to another loss in the Steel City.
New quarterback, no problem New Orleans
When the Saints announced they would be without Drew Brees for six weeks, many believed their Super Bowl window wasn’t suspended, but permanently closed. Coming in for Brees, Teddy Bridgewater struggled against the Los Angeles Rams’ defense, failing to put up points and raising eyebrows down in the Bayou.
In his second start, Bridgewater cooled the heartburn and helped New Orleans get back to their winning ways. Three years removed from a near career-ending knee injury, he became a winner once again, throwing for two touchdowns and putting New Orleans back on the right track.
The Saints still have Alvin Kamara making plays from the backfield. He finished with 161 yards and scored twice. One of the top targets in the league, Michael Thomas had 54 yards and a score. The defense made several mistakes in coverage but made up for it with a 33-yard fumble returned for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Alvin Kamara goes untouched for SIX!
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2018
The Saints as a whole are still one of football’s top rosters. Even without Brees, New Orleans plays in a winnable NFC South division. All Bridgewater needs to do is manage the offense, limit the turnovers, and score.
Perhaps the Saints won’t be the league favorite to hoist the Lombardi Trophy anymore. They’re not D.O.A either despite what some would believe. It might be a new quarterback but New Orleans’ season is far from over unlike teams such as Pittsburgh.
10.) Meet Odell Beckham Jr., the starting wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. If you didn’t know, that’s him. Never change OBJ.
Legend. ? pic.twitter.com/BmaCCEuZLP
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) September 23, 2019
9.) If you didn’t know yet, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is a good quarterback. Here he is evading the pressure and looking like a cheat code against Kansas City’s defense. This could be a game we see again this season come January.
.@lj_era8 had him going the wrong way after that juke ?
— NFL (@NFL) September 22, 2019
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 22, 2019
7.) Mike Evans was late to the wide receiver party but never forget his ability to be one of the league’s best targets. He finished with 190 yards on eight catches and scored three touchdowns. Can you say fantasy points?
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 22, 2019
6.) Do you guys want to see a dead body? Dolphins’ defensive tackle Davon Godchaux went after the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line after an impressive outing. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis clapped back on Twitter. Check out the thread.
— Jourdan Lewis (@JourdanJD) September 22, 2019
Winner: Lewis by 1,000
5.) Seattle knew they had something special when they selected D.K. Metcalf with the final pick of the second round in April. He’s looking like a steal after three games this season. Here’s the rookie shining on a vertical route on double coverage against New Orleans.
Just before the half…
— NFL (@NFL) September 22, 2019
4.) Let’s continue to live in a world with a healthy Dalvin Cook, OK? It’s just a better place for the game, but also for people like me who have him on their fantasy team.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 22, 2019
3.) The Buffalo Bills are 3-0 for the first time since 2011. In the team’s first home game of the year, Josh Allen led another comeback drive to seal victory over Cincinnati, but the defense put the icing on the cake.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 22, 2019
Is it time to start believing in Buffalo? We’ll know for sure next week against New England.
2.) Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin tweeted out an emoji following Texas A&M’s 28-20 loss to Auburn over the weekend. The former Aggie head coach is perhaps better known for his mishandling approach with Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray. The two played each other on Sunday afternoon.
— Kevin Sumlin (@CoachSumlin) September 21, 2019
Allen: 267 yards, four touchdowns, zero turnovers
Murray: 242 yards, two touchdowns, two turnovers.
Either way, imagine if one of them stayed in College Station. Maybe Sumlin would be too?
Cole Thompson is the Lead NFL writer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter at @MrColeThompson.