EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings are set to face a rookie quarterback for the first time in 2019 when they visit the Giants Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Daniel Jones, who was selected in April with the sixth overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, has won his first two career starts, becoming the first Giants QB to win his first two starts since Danny Kanell in 1997.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Minnesota's defenders have taken notice of the challenge that awaits.
"This young quarterback looks really, really good to me," Zimmer said during his opening statement to media members on Wednesday. "Moves in the pocket, throws well."
Zimmer was asked about preparing for Jones as well as the offensive system of former Vikings Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur, who is now in his second season as head coach of the Giants.
"Well, I think you prepare for both the offensive system, and then you go and get the player," Zimmer said. "Daniel Jones obviously is a very, very talented kid. I think he's a really good player, and I think he's going to be a great player. He's got an outstanding arm, he's got good feet in the pocket, he moves well, he scrambles."
The quarterback out of Duke started fast in each game and made plays with his arm and legs.
Against Tampa Bay in Week 3, Jones opened the game 4-of-5 passing for 53 yards on a drive that ended with a field goal.
In the second quarter, Jones capped a touchdown drive with a 7-yard score on a designed run to the outside.
His final series of the day was perhaps even more impressive because New York trailed 31-25 with 3:16 remaining. Jones led the Giants on a 75-yard drive that he capped with a 7-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-5 after reacting to the defense implemented by Tampa Bay.
Last week against Washington, Jones opened 5-for-6 through the air for 42 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown pass that helped New York capitalize on a possession that started at the Redskins 32-yard line after an interception and overcome 15 penalty yards along the way.
After leading two touchdown drives on New York's first two possessions, he threw interceptions that ended consecutive drives but bounced back in an eventual 24-3 win.
Jones converted a second-and-6 with a 12-yard run to set up a field goal late in the first half, giving the Giants a 17-3 lead at halftime. He also had runs of 7 on a first-and-10 and 16 on a third-and-13 during the third quarter.
"Right now it looks like he's playing pretty free and that nothing really affects him," Zimmer said. "He's turned the ball over a couple of times, but it hasn't affected him. Fourth-and-5 to win the ball game against Tampa Bay, he scrambled in for the touchdown when they were playing a double-double coverage."
Shurmur complimented Jones' "toughness and poise" during a conference call with Twin Cities media members.
"That's primary in our sport, especially when you're playing a position like quarterback, which is really sort of a position of authority on the field," Shurmur said. "He's got it. He's tough and has great poise, and I won't even talk about all the other stuff."
View photos from the Vikings practice on October 2 at TCO Performance Center.
The Giants head coach predicted that Jones, who was sacked five times in Tampa Bay but passed for 336 yards and had a passer rating of 112.7, will face a stiff test from Minnesota.
"When he drops back to pass, he's going to face a pass rush you don't always face," Shurmur said. "These guys are outstanding. I've seen it firsthand, and if you hold the ball, you get yourself in trouble. He's young and aggressive, but I think the important thing is that we have to present him with clean progressions so he can make quick decisions and get the ball out of his hand."
Asked to assess Jones' performances so far, Harrison Smith said, "He's got two wins. He's got an escapability aspect to him, especially in that Tampa game. He's got a big arm. He's obviously a young guy, but he's done some really good stuff."
Defensive end Stephen Weatherly said Jones "does his job really well."
"He … took over and has been able to make plays," Weatherly said. "One thing he has that his predecessor (Eli Manning) didn't is the ability to be elusive, and he's really good on the move, so that's a big thing we need to work on."