What is Tyrod Taylor to the Giants?
In a perfect world, they want him to be a dependable backup to starting quarterback Daniel Jones, the insurance policy the team famously failed to secure last season, causing a spiral that ultimately led to Joe Judge being fired as the head coach.
What is Taylor to Giants fans?
Many of them (the growing number who are no longer believers in Jones) want him to be — and predict he will be — the starter before Halloween. There are informal conversations taking place about how many games Jones starts before Taylor takes over.
What does Taylor want to be as he embarks on his 12th NFL season with his sixth team?
A starting quarterback again, of course.
Because every player wants to play — particularly Taylor, whose star-crossed NFL journey has been marred by injuries interrupting opportunity — the most bizarre of which came when a Chargers team doctor accidentally punctured his lung right before his second start of the 2020 season while trying to give him a painkiller injection for cracked ribs.
But Taylor, the well-traveled 33-year-old whom the Giants signed this offseason to be Jones’ backup, isn’t here to make waves or stir the pot of controversy.
By all accounts — significantly those of Giants players and coaches — Taylor has been the consummate teammate: a pro’s pro who third-string quarterback Davis Webb on Thursday told The Post “is the coolest teammate I’ve ever been around, one of my favorite people I’ve ever been around.’’
Whether or not you’re a believer in Jones (12-25 as a starter), the reality is that though he remains the starter until head coach Brian Daboll says otherwise, he’s not exactly on the firmest of turf. The fact that the Giants didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on Jones’ contract is a clear sign that the new regime isn’t 100 percent sure what he is.
Does that make Taylor, who’s started 53 of his 78 career games in the league, compiling a 27-25-1 record with 59 touchdown passes to only 25 interceptions, a threat to wrest the starting job from Jones?
Of course, it does.
Credit Giants general manager Joe Schoen and Daboll for righting one of the most egregious wrongs in the history of NFL personnel decision-making by bringing in a competent backup quarterback in Taylor.
The Giants were caught with their pants down in public last season when Jones was lost for the final six games with a neck injury and the keys to the franchise were handed to Mike Glennon (0-4, 4 TDs and 10 INTs) and Jake Fromm (0-2, 1 TD and 3 INTs).
Taylor represents the first backup who’s a true threat to Jones’ starting job since Jones was drafted in the first round in 2019.
For Taylor, who’s looked at times in training camp like the better quarterback for Daboll’s system, this might be his last best chance to start again in the NFL should Jones stumble.
“I’ve been through a lot and seen a lot, but no one that’s been around me or worked with me can ever say that I lack confidence or I ran and hid from anything that’s happened to me,’’ Taylor told The Post while taking a post-practice ice bath the other day.
Taylor, who had three strong seasons as the starter in Buffalo from 2015-17 (23-20 record, 51 TDs to only 16 INTs and Buffalo’s first playoff appearance after a 17-year drought), had chances to start with the Browns, Chargers and Texans — all of which were ended by injuries.
His lowest and scariest moment came in that 2020 incident with the Chargers, which marked the beginning of the Justin Herbert era.
“It made me a better person and a better player having a different perspective of things,’’ Taylor said.
Taylor’s veteran perspective is an asset for his younger teammates as he’s quickly become a favorite around the team facility.
“I’ve learned a lot from him.’’ Jones said Thursday.
“He’s a smooth cat,’’ running back Saquon Barkley said. “I feel like that’s someone that ‘DJ’ can lean on. He’s been a great teammate ever since he’s been here.’’
Webb marveled how Taylor, at his age, “is 33 and is still slippery.’’
“He’s still got a lot of juice to him athletic-wise,’’ Webb said. “He’s a quiet guy off the field and is like an assassin on the field.’’
Despite his bad luck, Taylor lives with no regrets.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,’’ he said. “Some of the things that have happened to me throughout my playing career I guess you could call bad luck, but it’s taught me a lot about myself, how to persevere through anything. Some things come along that are out of your control, and you’ve just got to keep your head down and continue to keep fighting and wait for the opportunity when it comes back around.’’
Pending the performance of Jones, the next opportunity may come for Taylor sooner than later.