Daniel Jones joked during his media availability Wednesday that this is the first time he’s had to work on the Wednesday following the Giants’ regular-season finale, instead of sitting at home.
His head coach might say “it beats the alternative,” and yes, it certainly does, as it’s very meaningful for Jones to be experiencing playoff football with his teammates for the first time in his four-year career.
“I think it means a lot to all of us – a lot of guys who have been here these past few years. And to be on the other side of it, it means a lot,” Jones said. “It's about what we do now, from this point on, and how we handle this opportunity, how we prepare and ultimately how we play, how we execute on Sunday. We're certainly happy we are where we are. But there's a lot more. We got to do a lot more work left for us. It's pretty cool to be here. But like I said, it's about what we do with this opportunity.”
With that said, it was a “normal” Wednesday for the Giants, who didn’t change anything about the way they’ve prepped for a game this year just because of the situation. That doesn’t mean they’re not aware of it, however.
“I think everyone understands where we are now. We're in the playoffs, and the games mean more from the sense that you lose, you go home, so people understand what's at stake,” Jones said. “But the only way we're going to play as well as we want to play is to prepare how we have all year, to trust our process and stick to that. So, that's largely been the conversation amongst the guys.”
“Win and move on, lose and go home…it's not overly complicated,” added head coach Brian Daboll. “You've got to earn it to get there, and now you got to do things you got to do to try to play your best and coach your best.”
That’s also basically what Daboll said about Jones playing his first playoff game – “we’re privileged to be a part of it, but the things that got you to having an opportunity to be here, that's what you got to lean on,” he said – but Jones did say he’s honored to be in a collection of quarterbacks that includes the names Brady, Mahomes, and Allen…and a collection of Giants quarterbacks that includes names like Simms, Manning, Tarkenton and Tittle.
“Those are all really good players, really good teams, really good offenses,” he said, “but we're confident in our group and I'm confident in myself. This organization has a long history of success, winning and postseason success. So, for us to be a part of that, it's about us as a group and what we can do as a team this year as part of that history, and part of the storied legacy of this organization. That's the big thing.”
He expects to have a little bit of nerves, but he does before every game, so once the action begins, it’s going to be business as usual. His last few weeks of success also don’t change the “on to the next one” mentality, but he does know that everything he’s learned through the ups and downs of the last few years have helped him get ready for this point.
“I think I've learned a lot. I think we've been through a lot of ups and downs; it's not always going to be a straight line,” Jones said. “You're going to get better and then go through some tough time and then get better. It's just about continuing that process, trusting that process and showing up every day.”
One thing is for sure, though: Jones, just like the rest of the team to a man, wants no part of hearing that the Giants are playing with “house money.”
“I was always confident this would happen, and we would have this chance, largely because the guys we have in the locker room, the type of guys they are and how close we are as a group. We had some tough years, but I think we learned a lot. That's helped us get to where we are now,” he said. “But we're definitely not satisfied just to have made the playoffs. That's not how we see it as a group. We were confident in our team dating back to training camp and knew what we were able to accomplish. We're by no means satisfied just to be in the playoffs. We expect to play well and to win. And that's our expectation every week; that doesn't change this week.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN