NFL: The Daniel Jones ‘A Star Is Born’ hype in New York City is real … unless it isn’t

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Only time will tell if Giants QB Daniel Jones becomes the toast of the NFL for the next decade. In this league ... fame can be fleeting. Just ask Eric Hipple..

If Twitter had been around in 1981, it would have been interesting to gauge NFL Nation’s reaction to Detroit’s Eric Hipple lighting up the Chicago Bears defense for 300-plus passing yards (from only 14 completions) and six total touchdowns on Monday Night Football — which also served as the second-year quarterback’s starting professional debut.

For 38 years, Hipple’s out-of-nowhere domination of the Bears represented the gold standard of quarterback breakouts in the post-merger NFL, at least from an aggregate passing yards/passing touchdowns/rushing TDs perspective.

Sure, plenty of novice QBs have thrown for more yards (Cam Newton eclipsed the 400-yard-mark in his first two NFL starts); but for the longest time, Hipple — who might have been the prime reason why the Lions passed on Jim Kelly and Dan Marino in the 1983 draft (seriously) — didn’t have much competition in his single-game category of achievement.

That solemn existence ended on Sunday.

Not only did rookie QB Daniel Jones join Hipple as the only quarterbacks of the modern era (1970-present) to pass for 300 yards and register multiple passing/rushing touchdowns in their NFL starting debuts … but Jones — the No. 6 overall pick in April’s draft — also rallied the Giants from an 18-point deficit, en route to an epic 32-31 victory over the Buccaneers.

Jones’ storybook Sunday had a happy ending, due to Bucs kicker Matt Gay missing a chip-shot-range field goal of 34 yards in the final seconds.

But even if Gay’s kick had sailed through the uprights, Giants fans would still be riding high today … on the confident belief that Jones can lead the franchise to prominence for 10-15 years.

Similar to Eli Manning, who watched Sunday’s back-and-forth shenanigans unfold from the Giants sideline.

A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION

The strong-armed, fleet-footed and remarkably humble Jones seems like the ideal fit for Pat Shurmur’s offense.

But that statement can only be confirmed through time … regardless of what the national pundits are squawking about in the afterglow of Victory No. 1.

For starters …

**The Bucs defense must have forgotten that Jones had nimble feet, just seconds before the quarterback scrambled for the eventual game-winning touchdown.

On the final play, Tampa Bay went all-out to defend every New York playmaker with ferocious one-on-one intensity. As a consequence, though, it left a sea of open land for Jones to roam.

Heck, even Eli Manning would have scored without incident, given the Grand Canyon-sized gap after evading the pass rush.

(Credit where it’s due: Leading up to Jones’ score on 4th and 5, the Buccaneers did a superb job of stifling the Giants playmakers, most notably tight end Evan Engram, who cruised for six catches, 113 yards and one touchdown.)

**Jones won’t have access to tailback Saquon Barkley for a few weeks, with the second-year star suffering a high ankle sprain in the first half.

For one glorious comeback, the Giants persevered without the dynamic help of Barkley; but will that trend carry over to Weeks 4, 5 and 6, once the opposing defenses can effectively game-plan for Wayne Gallman?

**This time last year, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (currently sidelined to illness) was the toast of New York City; and now, he’s just a promising, but eminently flawed quarterback on perhaps the AFC’s second-worst team.

**The Giants defense can’t stop anyone.

Bucs wideout Mike Evans racked up eight catches, 190 yards and three touchdowns. Traditionally sluggish tailback Ronald Jones collected 121 total yards; and quarterback Jameis Winston (380 yards passing, 3 TDs) had zero difficulty rummaging through the New York defense during crunch time.

And these problems won’t be subsiding, as the season takes its toll.

On the plus side …

**The Giants draw the vulnerable Redskins next Sunday, giving Jones the chance to showcase his stuff in front of an adoring home crowd.

Actually, scratch that. If you watched at least one quarter of Giants-Bucs, you’d know the New York-focused cheers were twice as loud as the Tampa Bay cheers; and perhaps Jones fed off that ‘snowbird’ energy in friendly enemy territory.

**Hipple might have had an unremarkable career with the Lions (10,771 yards passing, 55 TDs, 70 INTs … 28-29 as a starter), but he fared rather well in NFL Start No. 2, dazzling the 1981 Packers for 300 total yards (271 passing) and three total touchdowns (two rushing).

So, there’s definitely hope for Jones carrying that sugar high of Sunday greatness into the following week.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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