Welcome to your new world, Daniel Jones. Get used to it.
Baker Mayfield may have been wildly out of line when he ripped the Giants for making Jones the sixth overall pick in the draft, but the truth is he's just the latest in a very long line of Daniel Jones critics. Giants fans seemed horrified by the pick. Many in the media crushed it.
I mean, he was booed for the high crime of being a high draft pick while throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, for goodness sake. But there's nothing Jones can do about it anymore. This is the life he's chosen. This is Jones' fate. It's the way it's going to be, and the only way to shut everyone up is to come out of the gate looking like a cross between Peyton Manning and Patrick Mahomes -- and even that might not be enough.
"I think anyone that comes into New York, you can see that there is more attention than they have had previously. It is all part of it," Jones said when asked about his critics shortly after he was drafted. "It's my job to make people believe in me and I understand that."
The Giants are convinced that Jones will eventually turn everyone into believers. And they think, with his Eli Manning-like demeanor, he can handle the constant criticism along the way.
But it's still incredibly unfair to a kid who has done nothing in the NFL, good or bad, yet. He's being judged on a perception that simply doesn't match reality. People who likely never watched him throw a single football at Duke -- and that very likely includes Mayfield -- spout off like they're experts on his NFL future.
Never mind that the actual experts -- scouts, coaches, and executives in the NFL, whose job it is to actually scout young players -- think Jones, and the Giants' decision to pick him sixth overall, was pretty good.
Fans can almost be forgiven for their fickleness. If you were paying attention before the draft, the talking-head consensus was definitely that Jones ranked somewhere behind Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock on the quarterback prospect depth chart. That drumbeat continued for months, even though it wasn't necessarily true inside the NFL.
Maybe that's where Mayfield's misguided remarks were coming from when he said it "blows my mind" that the Giants took Jones, in an article that was published Tuesday in GQ Magazine. Wherever it came from, it was still jarring that one young NFL quarterback would rip a team for drafting another one. It was stunning, meanspirited and seemingly unprecedented. It was also really bizarre, considering Mayfield hasn't actually done anything in the NFL just yet, and a year or so ago people were ripping the Browns for passing on Sam Darnold to take him No. 1 overall.
Of course, it's easy to excuse Mayfield for being one ignorant player making one dumb comment. Unfortunately for Jones, that's just a smaller part of a larger theme. And it's not going away. Don't be fooled by the love Jones is getting for his so-far-stellar preseason. People -- fans, media, apparently other players -- have long memories. Just ask Manning. It wasn't long after second Super Bowl that even his most loyal supporters are starting to wonder, "What's next?"
Jones' reality is probably that nothing is ever going to be good enough to erase the preconceived notion that the Giants reached for him in the draft. Never mind it's a fantasy. Never mind that inside the NFL no one agrees. If he doesn't get off to a faster started than any quarterback in Giants history, "Reach" may become his middle name.
So it's a good thing that the Giants drafted him in part for his calm, cool, Eli-like, let-everything-roll-off-your-back demeanor, and that he's not considered to be a bit of a hothead like a certain young quarterback in Cleveland. Because this is Jones' new life. Like the man he'll eventually replace, he's going to be spending years deflecting criticism regardless of what he does on the field.
Maybe someday he'll be able to laugh at it, while polishing his two Super Bowl MVP trophies. But as Eli Manning knows, Jones will need a heck of a lot more than that to make all of the critics go away.