The New York Giants quarterbacks were talking about what had just unfolded on the field. It may have been a coverage, a read, some minor detail from a play that occurred in the steady rain at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. During a practice in late May, that can be easily glossed over.
What couldn’t be ignored was Manning pointing to the right sideline, and Jones appearing (at least from 50 yards away) to stoically be absorbing the information. Straight-faced, no histrionics, very few words. From a distance, it appeared as if Eli was talking to his younger self, or perhaps his son.
That’s a joke that has already made it to the Giants quarterback room with Manning, 38, sharing quarters with a 22- and 24-year-old (Jones and Kyle Lauletta). It’s a joke that has already made its way around the internet with the photos and mashups showing the similarities of the way Manning and Jones look, act and talk.
On the surface, it’s an easy comparison. Two Southern boys, almost identical sizes (Manning is listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds; Jones 6-5, 221) with similar hairstyles and facial expressions. Yet they’re almost two decades apart in age. Jones looks like an Eli Jr.
The early returns off the field show it is not a far-fetched conclusion.
“There is a lot of similarity in their stature and how they handle themselves. Personality-wise, I would say in some ways they are similar as we get to know Daniel and his personality more,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “They are very calm in their approach. They are very fiery under the [surface]. I don’t think you want to misrepresent either one of them. They are both very fiery of making sure things are done properly. They demand it of themselves and the people around them.”
This is the common theme with both quarterbacks. Those around them see soft-spoken individuals whose general demeanor contrasts their competitiveness.
Not that you can tell by watching them on the field. Aw-shucks Eli isn’t one to enter a huddle and put fire to backsides. It’s this approach that has been integral to a career that has seen him roasted and fried (Manning once appeared on the back page of the New York Post in a dunce cap) but is entering its 16th season and produced two magical Super Bowls.
Jones has the unenviable task of eventually replacing a Giants legend. He has handled the early failures and successes in Eli-like fashion.
“You can tell that a lot of stuff doesn’t really faze him,” said veteran quarterback Alex Tanney, the fourth member of that quarterback room. “Whether it’s a good throw, bad throw, he doesn’t show a ton of expression. I think that is a good quality to have at the quarterback position.”
It would seem this approach serves a purpose in the New York market. There will be times when Jones is scrutinized and others when he will be lauded. It comes with the territory.
Jones can only hope it all produces similar final results. But one thing he insists, he’s not a follower.
“I’ve never been the loudest guy,” Jones said when asked to describe his own personality. “But I wouldn’t describe myself as shy or waiting around for other people.”
The lack of being boisterous or making sure he’s noticed shouldn’t be confused with quiet. Tanney said that despite being soft-spoken, Jones is always asking questions — especially good questions that apply to specific circumstances. It’s a sign Jones is absorbing the relevant information quickly.
Lauletta also seems to have taken notice. He’s seen over the past few weeks that Jones talks and works with a purpose. Not much messing around early in his young career.
“He’s a straight shooter. No-nonsense guy,” Lauletta said. “He’s smart. A smart kid. A lot like Eli. I do see some similarities.”
None of this has gone unnoticed in the quarterbacks room. They saw the pictures circulating on the internet last week of Manning and Jones at OTAs making seemingly identical faces side by side.
It even made for an easy joke.
“I think it’s funny,” Lauletta said. “I told Eli that Daniel can be his son. Looks like he can be his son or something.”
But there is another side of Manning that Jones hasn’t shown in himself, yet. It might come when he gets a bit more comfortable in his surroundings.
Manning is known for his dry sense of humor. He’s famous for pranks such as changing the language on cell phones or doing something as unassuming as chomping loudly on chips to intentionally irritate his brother. Lauletta even went as far as describing Manning as “hilarious” with his sarcasm and witty one-liners.
Jones hasn’t been as outwardly open with his humor, yet. Maybe it’s because he’s still getting comfortable or simply just trying to find his place in a locker room and quarterbacks room filled with mostly older men. Fellow draft picks Julian Love and Dexter Lawrence are the only players on the roster younger than Jones, who turned 22 on Monday. He celebrated by spending Memorial Day weekend in the area and going unnoticed during a trip to New York City.
Well, there is one difference between the two QBs. Manning could never have pulled that off.