When Daniel Jones turns to hand the football off, there will be no No. 26, no Saquon Barkley to hand it to. When he looks in front of him, there will be no No. 87, no Sterling Shepard to throw it to Sunday against the 49ers.
This is his show now, his team now more than it has ever been.
We have watched him crawl before he learned how to walk, and now, 14 starts into the Giants’ Life After Eli Manning, the young franchise quarterback will need to start to run.
It doesn’t mean that Daniel Jones has to start flinging the ball all over the lot.
Don’t try to be a hero, kid.
To quote Bill Belichick: Do your job.
With one important caveat: Do it better than you have done it to date.
Jones comes straight out of the Eli Manning School of Selflessness and Humility, having never applied to the Joe Namath School of Braggadocio.
“We have a lot of guys who can make plays, and it’s about everyone doing what they have to do to execute as an offense, and that’s the way we’re gonna be most effective,” Jones said.
“It’s not any one guy, or two guys, it’s the group stepping up, and I’m confident we’ll be able to do that.”
It’s only one guy who is the quarterback.
Dan the Man.
Jones will have the services of a new running back, Devonta Freeman, a two-time Pro Bowler who has lost some of his juice and is no Saquon Barkley.
“We’re not gonna raise the white flag on anything,” coach Joe Judge said. “Our guys are gonna fight straight on through.”
Jones, more than anyone now, is entrusted with carrying the Big Blue flag of the Fighting Joe Judges, and he has shown that he is indeed a fighter and a reflection of his head coach.
Jones hates losing more than he likes winning, so just imagine after 11 career losses how he burns to turn the Giants around and begin building the right kind of legacy for himself in the post-Eli Manning Era.
He has shown everyone that his shoulders are big enough for the job, for the city, and he is warming to the leadership role with each passing day.
“I had the conversation with every one of our players, that it’s not all on any single player,” Judge said. “Everybody has a role, everybody has a job to do, and we all just have to do our job a little bit better, and eliminate mistakes that put us behind early in the game.
“I talk to Daniel on a daily basis. One thing I’d tell you about him is he comes to work every day with the right approach, the right mentality. I know he’s putting himself in position to do everything he can to help the team.
“He just has to be himself, and do what he has to do. Everyone has to play their best as well.”
Jones playing his best means putting an end to his fumbling problem once and for all.
It means leading his team as forcefully as a second-year quarterback can lead it. On and off the field.
Danny Dimes’ Time is now.
“I’ll certainly continue to try to lead and try to help us move in the right direction. … I think it’s everyone stepping up,” Jones said. “We have a lot of leaders on this team.”
Barkley was a captain for the second straight season. Jones is the only offensive captain left standing.
“There’s only a few people who were necessarily captains, but a lot of guys are leaders, and a lot of guys are comfortable in that role,” Jones said, “so we’ll continue to rely on guys and guys will continue to step up and do that.”
When Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the thigh toward the end of the 2008 season, this is what Tom Coughlin told his 11-1 defending champions:
“When you lose a player of Plaxico’s ability, it is incumbent that everybody step up and fill the void.” The Giants then beat the Redskins on the road, and Manning enjoyed his first 300-yard day of the season before losing to Donovan McNabb and the Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs.
“Guys like Derrick Ward and Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon are all playing bigger roles for us,” Manning said. “So it’s not just about me having confidence in myself. It’s about me having confidence in all the guys around me.”
And, of course, all the guys around him having confidence in their quarterback. Daniel Jones: Boy to Mann.