PALM BEACH, Fla. — The New York Giants aren’t messing around with their quarterback situation. The new regime has made the pecking order abundantly clear: Daniel Jones is the starter and Tyrod Taylor is the backup.
No quibbling over semantics. No saying the QBs will compete or that everyone has to win a job or that this is a pure meritocracy.
Nope, Jones is the starter under new general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll, with perhaps his biggest backer being ownership and John Mara.
“He’s shown enough when we’ve had the right pieces around him — when we’ve been relatively healthy — he’s shown enough talent to make us believe we can win with him,” Mara said last week at the NFL annual meeting in Palm Beach, Florida.
Mara and the Giants believe Jones is a quarterback you can build around, even if they need to see it before putting up the money that proves it completely.
Schoen and Daboll followed the latest Mara endorsement by specifically referring to Taylor, who was signed as a free agent three weeks ago, as the “backup.” So barring an unexpected setback, Jones will begin the spring workouts, training camp and the regular season as the starter.
This is a make-or-break 2022 season for Jones, who is on the final year of his rookie contract. The Giants said they haven’t made a decision about whether to to pick up his fifth-year option. They have until May 2.
It was just two years ago that Joe Judge took over as head coach and wouldn’t say the name of Jones (or any player for that matter) until he had them in the building and saw them on the field.
This is the opposite end of the spectrum — naming your starting quarterback in March.
“Yeah, [Taylor] came in as the backup,” Daboll said last week at the NFC coaches’ breakfast in Palm Beach. “Again, you’ve seen Daniel here the last few years. I think Daniel, I’ve said this before, he’s got good athleticism, he’s made some really good throws. I’m sure there are some plays that he wants back just like everybody.
“I think going into it right now and [the start of the offseason program], we kind of got it set the way we want it set.”
The Giants have no concerns about Jones’ neck injury, which cost him the final six games of last season. There will be no limitations this spring.
In fact, there were people in the organization who thought Jones was legitimately close to a return late last season. Four months later and almost five months before he will face his first contact, it’s hardly even a topic.
“He should be ready to go,” Daboll assured reporters about his starting quarterback’s availability this spring.
The Giants have Taylor just in case. It was a priority for Schoen to get a reliable backup this offseason, even with the team short on salary-cap space. He first went after Mitch Trubisky (who signed with Pittsburgh as the presumed starter) before turning his attention to Taylor.
Taylor, 32, was signed to a two-year deal worth $11 million with the potential to earn more with incentives he can only hit if he plays. He fits what the Giants were looking for in their backup quarterback — a veteran to work behind and push Jones.
“I like Tyrod a lot,” Schoen said. “I was in Buffalo with him that first year  when we broke the 17-year drought in terms of the playoffs there. Morning workout guy. He was always the first one in. Always in there. First one in, last one to leave. He’s smart. He’s a leader. He’s athletic. He can run Dabes’ system and [offensive coordinator Mike] Kafka — the stuff they want to do on offense. You don’t have to change up your offense if he has to go into the game. Similar type skill sets [as Jones] and they can run the same offensive scheme.
“That was kind of some guys that we targeted. It was guys you don’t have to completely change your scheme in order to run your offense. That was important.”
Jones’ history suggests Taylor will end up playing this year. Jones has missed games because of injury in each of his first three professional seasons.
That is just one of the reasons there is uncertainty surrounding Jones as the long-term answer at quarterback. There is also his 12-25 record as a starter and 49 turnovers in 38 career games.
Yet the new coach, GM and ownership are looking beyond the inconsistent start to his career and believe this is going to be the year he finally puts it together.
“You’re going to have to wait and see,” Mara said. “I can understand there is going to be a lot of skepticism about that. But you’re just going to have to wait and see. You tell me: Which quarterback would have thrived in the situation that we’ve been in over the past two or three or four years? It was very difficult. I think he did the best he could. Plus, he’s been hurt.
“We think he’s going to be healthy this year. Our offensive line should be better. There are also some pretty good skill players out there. We have a new scheme. We have a head coach who has been very successful developing quarterbacks.
“So all of those things indicate we’re going to be better. Until we do it, I understand there is going to be skepticism.”