EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Coach Pat Shurmur's gut said it was time for Daniel Jones. Or maybe he truly believes the rookie is a better quarterback right now than Eli Manning for this New York Giants team.
Whatever it is (probably a little bit of both after listening to him talk on Wednesday), the Giants' offense will have a very different look and feel on Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox) when they play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jones' legs and willingness to throw downfield should add new dimensions to Shurmur's attack.
Surely this played into the decision for the Giants to turn to the rookie after only two games. Shurmur was already thinking about the change immediately after Sunday's 28-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula might have foreshadowed it in the spring when he expressed his belief Jones was capable of starting Week 1.
The Giants fell in "full-bloom love" with Jones and his skill set prior to drafting him No. 6 overall. It's this same skill set -- an ability to deliver tight-window throws and make plays off-script -- that should give the offense a boost in Week 3.
The Giants haven't converted a third-and-long (considered a third-and-7 or longer) this season. They are 0-for-12 in such scenarios -- one of three teams that have failed to throw for a first down in these situations.
Jones also will likely be more willing to push the ball downfield. He averaged 9.4 air yards per attempt this preseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Manning is at 7.6 air yards this season after averaging 7.2 last year in Shurmur's offense.
Jones also showed more of a willingness to make tight-window throws (23.5%) than Manning, who was at less than 20% each of the past two years. The difference might not seem like much, but it is.
It would hardly be surprising to see the Giants attack the mid-range and deep portions of the field more with Jones on Sunday. This seems to have the playmakers excited.
"DJ has a really good arm and he's accurate with the deep ball," tight end Evan Engram said with a laugh when asked about the possibility of more downfield throws. "We'll see."
It's not that the Giants are all of a sudden going to run new plays. It's just that they might look different given Shurmur will be playing to Jones' strengths, rather than Manning's.
"I'm not sure the offense will change substantially," Jones said. "I think it'll be what we do, it'll be what we've [practiced] since the spring and what we're used to. I don't see it changing a whole lot. We've got a good system. We've got good players who are used to the system. I think it'll stay pretty consistent."
Those rollouts or plays where the Giants move the pocket will provide more of a threat for the quarterback to run. Those zone reads with a run-pass option (RPOs) now take on an entirely new meaning.
These were evident throughout the spring and summer with Jones running the second-team offense. It should at least keep the Bucs' defense honest and might eventually turn into a weapon for the Giants.
Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians started his conference call with Giants reporters by saying the biggest difference between Jones and Manning is the rookie's mobility.
"It will be the same offense, we still have to stop Saquon [Barkley]," Arians said. "[Jones is] a more mobile guy, so you have to be a little more cautious of rush lanes and things like that. Expect a little bit more movement passes, but he's still a rookie."
Arians later added that the Bucs' top priority will be stopping Barkley, who he believes is the best running back in football. They want to force Jones to remain in the pocket and throw the football in his first career start.
When he does get out of the pocket, Jones will have to take care of the ball. If he's shown an Achilles' heel so far, it is his inability to protect the football sufficiently. He had three fumbles in the preseason and one in his only regular-season game action.
This is something Jones has said needs to improve. "Need to hold onto the ball" was his assessment of his play in the opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
But the Giants also don't want to eliminate his legs as an option. Shurmur already showed what he's capable of doing with the mobile Case Keenum on rollouts and shifting pockets during their time together in Minnesota.
The hope is that the Giants' offense can resemble that with Jones.