If anyone had asked New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll if he'd envision a scenario in which Tommy DeVito, who started the year on the practice squad as the team's third quarterback, would be the starter at this point of the season, he probably would have said no.
But yet here we are, with DeVito stepping in for the injured Daniel Jones (ACL) and Tyrod Tylor (rib cage). Not only has DeVito risen to the challenge before him, but he's also making what some might argue is a strong case to continue in the role of starting quarterback even if Taylor returns from injured reserve after the bye week.
"He did a good job of picking up our offense," Daboll said when asked about the qualities DeVito possesses. "I think he operates well in the pocket, he’s got quick feet, he throws with anticipation and timing, and he’s instinctive. He does a good job of seeing defenders and feeling defenses.
"I don’t think he’s an overprocessor, an overthinker. He can make a variety of throws, and he was a good young player to try to work with and develop. Hopefully, as we spend a year with him, he will get a little bit better so that maybe he can have something the following year."
Those are all high words of praise for an undrafted free agent who, in his first days as a Giant, looked like he didn't even belong on the same field as the other players. But through hard work, study, and playing within his game, the 25-year-old Cedar Grove, New Jersey native has quickly won over his teammates for his work ethic and commitment to the game.
"He comes in with the right mentality," running back Saquon Barkley said just minutes after DeVito led the Giants to a 31-19 win over the Washington Commanders last week. "He's a confident dude from Jersey, so I'm excited and happy for that.
"I think he's proving people wrong. We know what he is capable of doing. It's the NFL, the National Football League. You don't get here by accident."
Even players on the defensive side of the ball have taken notice of DeVito's growth as an NFL quarterback.
"Yep. I thought in the first quarter, he came out and was pretty dynamic in the passing game, and that sparked everything," inside linebacker Bobby Okereke said.
DeVito is taking everything in stride as he prepares for his third NFL start, this one coming this week against a struggling New England Patriots team.
With there being the assumption that DeVito, who thus far has held off veteran Matt Barkley from stepping into the starting lineup, will go back to being the backup once Taylor is activated from injured reserve, the young signal-caller has a chance to keep the starting job for the rest of the season if he can put forth another solid performance.
It won't be easy, however. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, whose fingerprints are all over the defense, is known for his craftiness in disguising things and creating confusion for opposing quarterbacks, especially the inexperienced young like DeVito.
But if DeVito can continue elevating his game and not fall victim to the disguises and trickery Belichick likes to throw out there, there should be no reason why the youngster needs to be returned to the bench once Taylor is ready.
It would behoove the team if DeVito can hold onto the starting job, considering Taylor is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, whereas DeVito has a chance to establish himself as QB2 behind either incumbent Daniel Jones or a new face if one gets drafted.
Daboll, naturally, wasn't ready to make any such decisions as, for the time being, Taylor has to remain on the IR list for Weeks 12 and 13 before he can be designated for return (assuming he's healthy enough for that).
DeVito, meanwhile, still has plenty to work on, namely his pocket presence, in which he tends to tuck the ball and run when the pocket collapses around him rather than attempting to roll around in the pocket to buy time.
He's also been guilty of holding the ball too long, averaging 3.06 seconds to throw in last week's win against Washington, resulting in at least five of the nine sacks he absorbed.
Daboll admitted that a quarterback's developing pocket presence isn't easy.
"You do a variety of drills with them, but until you’re actually in the line of fire where you can take those shots from 310, 330 (pound players), or edge rushers, blitzers, I don’t think you have a great feel," he said.
"The good ones that I’ve been around have a unique way of dealing with – call it the congestion that happens in the pocket. In the different drills, you work on those on a daily basis, but I think it’s something innate that they have that they can keep their eyes down the field, stay in the pocket, move a little bit, maybe get out when they have to--an instinctive feel that the good ones that I’ve been around have done a good job with that."
That said, Daboll likes how DeVito's pocket presence has been developing.
"For a young player, he’s willing to stand in there. He has pretty quiet feet--quick feet but quiet feet when he has to. The line knows where he’s going to be most of the time, and he gets the ball out with some good anticipation and timing."
Daboll believes DeVito can continue to grow as an NFL quarterback.
"Look, there’s plenty of things that he knows he needs to work on, and we need to work on with him that we can help him," Daboll said. "But he’s got the right mindset, the right approach. He’s done a good job since he’s been here."
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