What We Learned in the Divisional Round of the N.F.L. Playoffs

In the passing game, Daboll put a premium on getting the ball out quickly and limiting negative plays, an approach that sort of saved Jones, who is more prone to making mistakes the longer he holds the football, from himself. Daboll also excelled at facilitating open throws underneath and off play-action.

With the right additions at receiver, that approach could find a new level. The Giants got by this year with Richie James, Darius Slayton, and Isaiah Hodgins but none are options worthy of being a No. 1 receiver. James is undersized at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds; Slayton is mostly a deep threat; and Hodgins, a surprisingly effective midseason addition, has yet to show he can handle a heavy load over a full season. An injection of star talent — perhaps through a trade for Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins or a first-round selection in the draft — might open up new possibilities both for Daboll and Jones.

The more pragmatic viewpoint, however, is that Jones hasn’t shown he is the kind of quarterback who can elevate those around him enough to warrant him commanding a healthy portion of a team’s cap space. It’s true that Jones has come alive as a runner and reduced his interceptions to a career-low five in the regular season, but both of those developments were meant to limit his errors as a drop-back passer.

Dual-threat quarterbacks run the N.F.L., and Jones has not shown that he’s enough of a threat in the pocket. Against the Eagles, Jones was not able to scan the full field and be a dynamic passer, especially when it came to throwing in tight windows.

The Giants are now caught in a spot where they have a formula with Jones that works, but only in specific, low-ceiling ways. Jones is making only about $8.4 million against the salary cap, according to overthecap.com. A new Jones contract would likely either be a franchise tag (roughly $45 million) or a mid-tier deal similar to what Ryan Tannehill got with the Titans at around $30 million per year guaranteed. There may still be more to unlock with Jones, but the Giants would have a hefty price to pay in order to find out and an even steeper cost if they find out they’ve already hit their ceiling with him.

Bengals 27, Bills 10: The Bengals won this physical matchup amid the snowy conditions in Western New York. After Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ passing game provided them a comfy 14-0 lead through the first quarter, the team’s run game and defense took over. Despite rushing behind a backup-filled offensive line, Joe Mixon had zero issues repeatedly plunging through the heart of the Bills’ defense to the tune of 105 yards and a touchdown. On the other end, the Bills couldn’t run the ball whatsoever, nor could their receivers win their battles on the sideline. Josh Allen was left frantically throwing to covered receivers and carrying what little run game the team had, but it wasn’t enough for the Bills to prevail.

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