Third-year Giants QB Daniel Jones huddles with Post columnist Steve Serby for some Q&A before the season kicks off Sunday.
Q: How hungry are you, and how hungry is this team to win after four straight years of missing the playoffs?
A: I think this team is extremely hungry and ready to get this season going. We understand that the way we’re gonna do that is taking care of business every single week and making sure we’re as prepared as possible and we go out on Sunday and execute. We certainly got a hungry group of guys, and guys who are gonna go out there and fight, and do whatever we can to win.
Q: Do you believe this is a team that will make Giants fans proud?
A: I do, yes.
Q: This will be your first home opener as starting quarterback with fans in the stands.
A: I’m excited. I think it’ll be an awesome day, obviously last year without the fans was a different year for us all, a different year for the fans too being at home. So I know they’ll be excited to be back, and I can’t wait to get out in front of them. It’ll be an exciting atmosphere. I’m looking forward to getting out there.
Q: Sum up Giants fans.
A: Extremely passionate … extremely enthusiastic for the Giants. You can tell the tradition of being a Giants fan in most cases is passed down through a number of generations, and it’s kind of something that’s in people’s blood around here, and you can feel that by how passionate and how enthusiastic they are about the New York Giants. The opportunity to represent this fan base, this area, on the football field is a huge honor, and something you take very seriously.
Q: What do you remember about 9/11?
A: Not much to be honest. I was 4 years old, and I think I was picked up from preschool early. We had the opportunity to listen, to have some firefighters from New York come in and speak to us this week. So hearing their stories, talking to people who were around here on that day, you gain a lot of perspective. Obviously the world is different because of that day, our country’s different because of that day, so it’s a tremendous day in our history. It’s something that is very important around here. I think it’s been important for me and a lot of the younger guys to hear those stories and hear that perspective.
Q: Do you think it’ll be emotional on the day following the 20-year anniversary of 9/11 during the national anthem?
A: I do, I do. A lot of people up here have connections with people in the Towers that day. It’s an extremely emotional event, and certainly an emotional time … will be on Sunday.
Q: Give me some reasons why you expect Daniel Jones to make a Year 3 leap.
A: A leap or however you define it, my focus is more on playing well and helping this team win games, so I feel like I’m prepared, and I feel like the experience last year and the year before, there’s been a number of things I’ve been able to learn and feel like I’ve improved on through last year and this offseason, this training camp and going into this year. I’m excited, I think as a team, as an offense, we’ve had a good camp and we’re looking forward to getting out there.
Q: Is it important for a quarterback to understand what makes each of his teammates tick?
A: Absolutely. I think that’s a big part of the job, understanding how to communicate with guys, and what’s gonna be the most effective way to get everyone on the same page, to get everyone to understand what exactly we need to do individually and as a group to be successful. I think that’s a big part of playing quarterback, a big part of being a leader, just in general. I think that comes from relationships you build with guys, and getting to know guys on a personal level.
Q: What makes Kyle Rudolph tick, and what have you learned about him?
A: Kyle has played a ton of football, he’s an extremely smart player, so I think he’s got a great understanding of how he’s done things in the past and what’s worked for him given his skill-set, what gives him the best opportunity to be successful. I’ve learned a ton from him in his experiences, so that’s been awesome for me to be able to work with him so far. He’s a great player and a guy that’s had a lot of success, so looking forward to getting out there with him.
Q: What have you learned about what makes Kenny Golladay tick, and how excited are you to have two big targets in Rudolph and Golladay that you didn’t have prior?
A: Kenny’s another guy who works extremely hard at it. He’s a smart player, he’s got a great understanding of offense, offensive football, was able to pick up our system very quickly. It’s been fun working with Kenny, he’s a big, long, strong guy and gives a quarterback a lot of opportunities to throw it up to him and he can go up and make the play.
Q: And what have you observed about Kadarius Toney?
A: Kadarius has a special skill-set. His change of direction, his quickness and his twitch, you could see how good of a player he could be with all those tools. He’s worked hard getting in our system and learning the offense, and I’m impressed with how quickly he’s picked it up. He can be a good player for us, and I’m excited to get out there with him.
Q: Sterling Shepard is back in the slot.
A: Shep’s a tremendous route-runner, he’s extremely dedicated, too, and understands getting open versus certain coverages, understands how to run routes. You can tell in the slot he’s been there before, he’s very comfortable reading leverage from defenders, reading zones and finding the spots to get open. He’s had a great camp, and look forward to seeing him play on Sunday.
Q: What improvements have you noticed in Darius Slayton?
A: Darius has had a good camp as well. His route-running has been even better than it’s been in years past, I think he’s getting in and out of breaks really well, and using a lot of his speed and physical tools.
Q: Why do you believe in this offensive line, which scares Giants fans so much?
A: I see them work every single day. They’re a tough group of guys, they’re guys who want to get better, who want to work hard, and have had a good camp. It’s about being on the same page, and a lot of that responsibility comes on me to get the ball out of my hands and make sure I’m going through progressions, making decisions quickly and getting the ball out.
Q: What do you hope or expect the on-field personality of your offense to be?
A: I think first and foremost, it’s a group that’s gonna fight, it’s gonna play with a chip on our shoulders, play with an edge to us, and fight the defense, go at ’em every play and play a physical, tough brand of football. So I think that’s the first thing, and then a group that can execute in every situation — in early down, third down, red zone, two-minute … a smart team that can execute in each situation.
Q: How much does Patrick Graham as a defensive coordinator cause stress for a quarterback?
A: He’s a great coach, and makes us a lot better every day to go against that defense. What he does schematically, with different pressures, different coverages, different disguises and how they make their coverages look, I think it does a lot for us on offense to get to go against that scheme every day. He’s got different pressures, different coverages, all kinds of different looks, and it’s something that keeps us honest, make sure we’re addressing things that need to be addressed in our system, and it helps us out a whole lot.
Q: What does Adoree’ Jackson bring to the defense?
A: He’s a really good cover guy at corner, he’s a smart player, you could tell his savviness, playing zone coverage, playing man coverage. He brings a lot to that defense to have him opposite of James [Bradberry].
Q: Safety Xavier McKinney?
A: He’s a guy who you could tell understands football coming from Alabama and what they were doing down there. He’s a smart football player, he’s got great speed and great range back there at safety and can also come down and make plays in the run game. He’s a good player, and I’m excited to watch him play.
Q: How do you deal with the pressures and responsibilities that come with being the franchise quarterback of the New York Giants?
A: I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to represent this organization, one of the flagship organizations in the NFL … an organization with the kind of tradition, and a tradition of winning, so the opportunity to represent this organization as a player on the field is a huge opportunity. And to play quarterback is a great opportunity as well. That’s something that excites me, something I take very seriously.
Q: Do you set personal goals?
A: My goals are really to play well and put the team in a position to win. If I do that well, then I’ve had a good season. But my focus is really to make sure this team plays well, and make sure I put us in a position to win.
Q: Where is your confidence level on a scale of one to 10?
A: I’d say I’m confident. I feel like I’m in a good spot. I’ve had a good offseason, and I’ve had a good training camp. I feel like my confidence is in a good spot.
Q: How did your offseason work on ball protection go?
A: Good. I think that will continue to be an emphasis. That’s a big part of the game, it’s a big part of my position is protecting the ball and making sure I’m always mindful of that, and doing a good job with that.
Q: What is your definition of a captain?
A: A leader, someone who sets the example for what a Giants football player should be, and how they should go about their work every day, someone who people can look to to set that example, someone who takes care of their business first, who comes to work ready to go, who also helps others understand what they need to do to help the team get into position to win.
Q: What are your tour thoughts on your fellow captains: Nick Gates?
A: I think he’s a really good player, he’s someone who comes to work every single day. He’s got an edge to him, a toughness to him, and I think everyone on the team respects. He’s a guy who works hard and always is prepared, and I think guys really respect that and look to that.
Q: Saquon Barkley?
A: Saquon’s another tremendous worker, he’s always trying to get better in whatever way he can … a more vocal leader, a guy people look up to bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and he does a great job with that.
Q: Logan Ryan?
A: Logan has played a lot of football in this league, he’s got a lot of success, he’s a tremendous player, extremely smart football player, he’s always prepared … is another more vocal guy who people look to and he’s a great leader.
Q: Jabrill Peppers?
A: He’s a great player, he plays with a lot of passion, plays with a lot of energy and emotion — I think people are drawn to that. You can tell how much he loves football, how much he loves being out there competing. He’s a guy who brings it every single day, brings it to practice, and certainly brings it on game day.
Q: Blake Martinez?
A: Blake’s another guy who’s played a lot of football in this league. He’s a smart football player, is always prepared, and makes a lot of plays on defense, gets everybody lined up and everybody on the same page.
Q: Graham Gano?
A: Graham’s a big-time player for us. He’s a tremendous kicker, is always prepared. You can tell how seriously he takes his job, and he’s a true pro.
Q: Daniel Jones?
A: I try to do those things I talked about with each of those other guys … it’s showing up prepared every day, showing up ready to work, making sure everyone around you knows they can count on you to do that, to be prepared and ready to go … try to play with a toughness and an edge that people will look to and respond to, and then be a guy who can communicate with others, get everyone on the same page, and make sure everyone knows what’s expected and what we need to do to win games.
Q: What would your advice be to Zach Wilson before his NFL debut?
A: Just to trust his preparation. Playing early on, you learn a lot of football, and there’s no better experience than to get out there and play.
Q: What is your Saturday night routine in the hotel?
Q: We have a squad meeting, we have a snack after that, so hang out in the team meal room for a few minutes. … I think those are good times to hang with teammates and talk and watch the college football game that’s on, and then go up and go to bed.
Q: You really like the character of the guys on your team, don’t you?
A: I do. I think we got a really good group of guys, guys who have bought into what we’re doing, who understand how we’re gonna work and how we’re gonna prepare every day, and guys who really care about their teammates, guys who are unselfish and want to see this team succeed … really team guys, and I think that’s a fun thing to be a part of.
Q: What has enabled coach Joe Judge to get this team to buy in the way it has?
A: He has a certain standard and expectation, and he’s been very clear in what that is and what this program is gonna be and what’s expected of us players. We believe in his vision, we believe in the program. When guys see that, when guys see a clear picture of what the program expects, it’s easy to buy in and believe in that.
Q: What are your thoughts on Eli Manning’s jersey retirement on Sept. 26?
A: I think that’ll be a cool day to see that, and be on the field for that. He’s certainly a legend in this game, he’s a legend of this franchise for sure. I’m excited to see that.
Q: Where were you and what were your immediate emotions when the Eagles brought in Nate Sudfeld and lost to Washington to end your season?
A: I was watching the game with a couple of teammates. We certainly were hoping for a different outcome, but at that point we had left it up to them to decide it and hadn’t taken care of what we needed to earlier in the season, so I think there’s a great lesson there for all of us that we’ve gotta handle our business first, and make sure we’re the ones determining our own destiny.
Q: What would be your message to Giants fans who deserve a winner?
A: We’re gonna go out there, do whatever we have to do to win. We feel prepared, we’re always gonna play as hard as we possibly can, and play as tough as we possibly can every Sunday, so that’s our mindset, and we’re excited to get going.