When Giants quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski looks at Daniel Jones, not much surprises him from the player he saw when he was scouting Jones for the Dolphins last year.
But if there is one noticeable difference Schuplinski has seen, it’s that Jones has a much stronger throwing arm.
“I have noticed his arm look stronger,” Schuplinski said on a Sunday video conference. “I did some work with him when he was coming out of the draft when I was at a different place and you know, it looked good, but it looks even stronger now.”
That strength in his throwing arm could be a result of Jones’ off-season training in which he gained about ten pounds of muscle and improved his overall strength in his torso and lower body.
That added strength would also presumably benefit his throwing arm, especially on deep pass attempts of which the Giants could end up running more of this year under offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Last year Jones completed just 16 of 54 deep pass attempts or 29.6% of passes 20+ yards for 498 yards and nine touchdowns.
Thus far, Schuplinski is encouraged with how Jones is progressing in his second season. After Jones got off to a rocky start during Friday’s scrimmage in which he went one for three on his first series, he settled down and began connecting with his receivers, throwing two touchdowns on the day to just one interception.
“I thought he did a good job,” he said about Jones’ performance. “We kind of really let them go let them play, see how they would answer a lot of the momentum sways throughout the scrimmage if you will. And he did a good job of sticking through it and sticking to the plan and keep doing the right things.”
Not that Schuplinski relies on statistics to gauge how well Jones or any of the quarterbacks does.
“I think the first thing we’re looking at is how fundamentally sound are we with our footwork, with our depth in the pocket with stepping up in the pocket, with pocket presence?” he said. “Can we see the coverage? Can we go with the right spot with a ball? Completion percentage is important, there’s no doubt, as I think the accuracy part of that is involved with the completion percentage.
But sometimes you can’t go totally off that because the throw could be a good throw and a drop, or sometimes it’s a catch, but it’s a crappy throw. So I think the main thing we’re probably looking at is, are we going to the right spot with the ball based on what the coverage gives us, and are we getting the ball out of our hands quick enough?”
IF there is one area that Schuplinski and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett probably want to see Jones take a significant leap forward in his growth, that would be pocket awareness.
According to Pro Football Focus, of the 243 total pressures the Giants gave up, 30 were linked to Jones. Jones also saw his completion percentage drop significantly when under pressure, completing 68.9% when facing no pressure and just 50% of his passes when under duress. Of his 11 lost fumbles, several were due to Jones’ pocket awareness.
While some coaches believe that a quarterback either has it or doesn’t when it comes to pocket awareness, Schuplinski thinks that can be developed.
“There’s a natural feel to that for sure with pocket presence, but I do think it could be developed and we’re working hard on developing a lot of that right now with some of the drills that we do,” he said.
“We’re trying to do the best we can upfront to build a good wall up front and create a good pocket and trying to get those guys to force them to step up in the pocket. We do a lot of drills for that, with all the guys working on good transfers, stepping up in the pocket and giving ourselves clear throwing lane.”
Jones believes that each new experience to line up behind center has made him more and more at ease with what he’s doing and what he sees from defenses.
“I think recognizing things quicker, having a better idea pre-snap of what’s going on, I’ve felt more comfortable that way,” he said Friday. “I have to continue to learn. Obviously, it will be different as we get into the games every week (but) as far as camp goes, I think with having last year and some of the experience of playing those games, I think it’s certainly been easier for me that way than it was this time last year.”