No one said hard knocks would not come for Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. He and the Giants braced for it starting in training camp. They did hope it would not happen this soon.
Here it is in Jones’ fourth career NFL start. A worst start of his fledgling career.
He stunk in the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots’ 35-14 drubbing over the overmatched Giants on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in front of a national audience who must have wondered why was there so much hype about him after four games.
If he did not play for the New York Football Giants, he would be ignored. He played like a pedestrian quarterback at best in the last three games. Think former Jets quarterback Bryce Petty. After watching him complete 15 of 31 for 161 yards with one touchdown pass against the Patriots with three interceptions to show for it, it’s quite apropos to compare him to Petty.
Jones’ successful NFL debut in the Giants’ 32-31 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers excited everyone in town after he engineered the game-winning touchdown drive with the help of Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay missing the field goal to seal the Giants’ win. Always looking for a storyline, the media hit on Jones to the point a delusional Giants beat writer for a North Jersey newspaper put him in the class of accomplished quarterbacks such as Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz after one game, which was laughable. Always searching for hope after hopeless seasons in recent years, Giants fans were carried away.
Only the Giants and Jones did not make much of one start. The Giants knew better than to put their rookie quarterback on a pedestal, and Jones was humbled enough to know one game does not make him a star. Even Giants general manager Dave Gettleman did not take bows that his No. 6 overall draft pick had a successful debut since he knew Jones would be in for some rough moments this season.
The local media, national media and Giants fans did Jones no favors at all.
Now, everyone wonders how Jones responds after an okay second game and two atrocious games. Next Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals at home will be a test to see what he is all about. At some point, he must show he has more than one good game in him this season or else his season would be pointless. He can’t keep stinking it up like he did against the Minnesota Vikings and Patriots this week.
One thing he should fix is his turnovers. He never gave the Giants a chance to win against the Patriots because of his three interceptions, especially when he was in scoring territory. He has thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five).
If he is going to be a turnover machine, he is useless.
If this was anyone else, Giants fans would be calling for a change at quarterback already. I saw nothing to think Jones should be starting to be honest. Even the Giants hoped he would not start this soon. It says here the Giants game plan was to start Jones in November when the schedule got easier, but Eli Manning was so bad in the first two games of the season that Giants head coach Pat Shurmur had enough to make a change.
After being Manning’s replacement for one game, Geno Smith played a pedestrian, well-managed game against the Oakland Raiders in his lone Giants start a few years ago, but that ticked Giants fans off to the point Ben McAdoo lost his job as head coach and Smith never played a game again. Apparently, privileges exist for Jones. Draw your own conclusions. We know the truth.
To say Jones had no shot to do well with running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), running back Wayne Gallman (concussion), tight end Evan Engram (MCL) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) not playing because of injuries is missing the point. To say Bill Belichick is 12-0 against rookie quarterbacks at Gillette Stadium ignores the issue of the Giants rookie quarterback. If he keeps throwing interceptions, it’s a problem.
There’s no cure to interception woes. It’s hard to teach not throwing interceptions. That has to come within a quarterback. Either he throws it or he does not. Throwing interceptions was a problem with him in college, and it sure looks like it won’t end anytime soon.
Jones can be a great passer. He can bring moxie and hoorah to the Giants. He can have Manning’s mannerisms. All of that is great, but that becomes moot if he throws interceptions that cost the Giants games. He plays like a gunslinger.
Part of the problem could be Shurmur not tailoring plays for him to run, which is his strong suit. He can’t be throwing all the time, too. He has to show awareness of when to run or when to throw or when to just throw it away.
Learning not to overcompensate by being a gunslinger has to be something Jones must do if he ever is going to be a serviceable quarterback.
Maybe this is fixable. Maybe it isn’t. It’s a great question moving forward. Only Jones can answer the question by his performance whether or not he can cut down on his interceptions.
We all thought Manning would cut down his interceptions with experience, but it turned out to be his calling card in what was a productive NFL career. Brett Favre had the same problem, too. It could be that is Jones’ game. A high risk, high reward quarterback that means he can win games and lose games with his arm.
Jones gave the Giants and their zealots something to think about for sure.