As the NFL enters its dead period before training camp begins for all 32 teams in late July, debates on which NFC East team will win the division in 2021 has been a hot topic between fans and those in sports media. Many believe that the division will come down to two clubs: Washington and Dallas.
It makes sense. Washington won the division in 2020 and has improved significantly on both sides of the ball. As for Dallas, star quarterback Dak Prescott returns to what should be one of the league's best offenses. If their defense is even average, the Cowboys should be successful in 2021.
But, one club that no one is talking much about is the New York Giants. On NFL Total Access this week, former Jaguars running back turned analyst Maurice Jones-Drew said he believes the Giants can compete for the division title, but with one caveat.
"Can they beat the Cowboys? Oh yeah! Can they beat Washington? Oh yeah! But it all relies on No. 8," Jones-Drew said.
Who Jones-Drew is referring to is Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who is entering the third year of his career after a pair of up-and-down seasons. In many ways, 2021 is a make-or-break year for the former Duke star.
New York has improved its roster dramatically on offense this offseason, too, adding wide receivers Kenny Golladay and first-rounder Kadarius Toney to an already talented bunch. Plus, star running back Saquon Barkley is expected to be fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered last season.
"This is Year 3 for Daniel Jones. You're trying to figure out if this is the guy moving forward or not," Jones-Drew said. "You put pieces around him now. Your offensive line, you fixed that up. Your defense is really good. You're getting your running back, back. All these things to say, No. 8, is he going to be the guy?"
Jones has shown flashes in his two years with the Giants that remind New York fans why they drafted him sixth overall in 2019. But, it's the turnovers and other mistakes he routinely makes that have prevented him from taking that jump to the next level.
"Can he not turn the ball over? Can he put us in situations to be successful?" Jones-Drew said. "Can he change the play at the line of scrimmage like the really good quarterbacks in this league do? Can he do all those things for us at a high level, consistently? That's going to be the key."
Despite Jones' struggles in certain areas, the Giants closed the 2020 season on a high note winning four of its last seven games. Additionally, New York defeated Washington both times they met last season.
So, while the Giants are not being as talked about much as Washington and Dallas as far as NFC East contenders, Jones-Drew is not ready to count them out just yet.
"The team got much better at the end of the year. Joe Judge did a phenomenal job," Jones-Drew said. "Can they keep going and can they play consistently like they did at the end of the year? That's going to be the key for the New York Football Giants."