Daniel Jones had an MRI on his injured right hamstring today, but it did not provide the Giants with a picture of his immediate future.
“There are actually more question marks than answers right now, to be honest with you,” Giants coach Joe Judge said on a late afternoon Zoom call. “We got some of the information back from the doctors, but a lot of that is we have to wait and see how this guy responds in a couple of days. Can he move around the field and can he do anything?
“I couldn’t get an answer on if it’s one week or more than one week right now. I’m not qualified and, to be honest, the doctors I talked to today don’t have a crystal ball to look through, either. I would say this, this is a tough dude. He is a tough guy. He is a very competitive guy and he wants to be out there. If we gave him the option today, he would jump out there, I’m sure, with duct tape on his leg and try to go at it. That being said, we have to give this guy a few days to get out there on the field and see if he can move around. See if he can do something.”
Until that reveals itself, no definitive announcement will be made regarding Jones’ availability for the Giants’ game Sunday against the Seahawks in Seattle. But based on Judge’s “one week” comment, it’s likely Jones will miss at least the Seattle game.
“My approach on every injury is always the same,” Judge said. “It’s always, number one, can the player hurt it worse by playing? Is it pain tolerance or is there a risk for serious injury? That’s number one. Number two, can the player defend himself on the field at a level necessary to do their job effectively? Until we can answer those two questions with absolute certainty, we won’t have any answers on what we’re going to do in terms of this week. I know Daniel is going to do everything he can to get on the field. But sometimes, as coaches, you have to make a decision to maybe protect the player from himself and kind of get through their competitiveness.
“With these types of injuries, we just have to give the player a few days to get out there and see what it really is. The day after, there’s going to be some swelling. It’s going to be tight, there’s going to be issues that show up. We have to see how he reacts from a couple days of treatment and what we can do to get him going on the grass.”
Jones, the second year starting quarterback, was injured on a seven-yard run with about 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter of the Giants’ 19-17 victory yesterday in Cincinnati. After running two more plays, including an all-arm two-yard pass to Wayne Gallman, Jones sat on the ground in pain. He left the field and returned for the first two plays of the next series before leaving for good.
Judge declined to characterize the injury as a strain, pull or tear.
“I’m not the doctor,” he said. “I’m not going to go ahead and try to put a label on it, to be honest with you. But it was enough that we had to remove him from the game yesterday. We’ll kind of see where he is going forward.”
Jones was replaced by Colt McCoy, who has played in 41 games in 11 NFL seasons. He has started 28 games – eight in his 2010 rookie season and 13 the following year with Cleveland and four in 2014, two in 2018 and one last year for Washington. McCoy’s record as a starter is 7-21. But the five teams he started for finished a combined 23-57.
In his first game action of the season, McCoy completed six of 10 passes for 31 yards – a deceptively impressive number considering his first pass, to Gallman, lost nine yards – and ran for seven yards on five carries.
“I have a lot of confidence in Colt,” said wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who caught three of McCoy’s passes for 28 yards. “He’s a veteran guy. He’s been in games, he’s played this game for a long time. Like I said, my confidence is through the roof with him.”
“He’s very experienced, very savvy,” said safety Jabrill Peppers, who faces McCoy daily in practice. “He’s a guy who can make all the throws. I definitely have the utmost confidence.
“He diagnoses coverages really well, very fast. He gets through his progressions really well. He has some tricks that he likes to throw at us, whether it’s his no-look passes or looking off the safety, throwing it back side. He definitely does a lot of things to help us prepare for what we’re going to see on Sundays.”
Judge expects no radical differences with McCoy stepping in for Jones.
“We don’t have to change the offense,” Judge said. “We can put him in there and we can run our offense. If Colt is taking the snaps, maybe there will be a few different things that (offensive coordinator) Jason (Garrett) determines are good to run with Colt, absolutely. It doesn’t matter exactly what it is. It’s based on the opponent and what our players do well. We’re going to try to find the best way to use their strengths. As the guys put the game plan together for this week as we talk through different scenarios, I’m sure there may be a different wrinkle here or there at some point. That’s not just because of what there is a limit of. We ran our offense yesterday with Colt, and Jason called it off the same play sheet and the same way. Colt went out there executed and did a good job for us.”
If McCoy starts, the Giants need a backup quarterback – or two. Their only other signal-caller is first-year pro Clayton Thorson, a 2019 fifth-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles who is on the practice squad. Judge also mentioned as possibilities Alex Tanney, who spent the 2018-19 seasons with the Giants and is currently out of football, and Cooper Rush, who is on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad. Both were with the Giants in training camp.
“I haven’t gone through all of those lists yet,” Judge said. “We had those conversations. We just wrapped up meetings with the players. I’m going to jump back into some personnel discussions when this call is over.”
The Giants have five games remaining. After the long trip to Seattle, they host the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns, visit Baltimore and end the season at home against Dallas.
Judge conceded that keeping Jones out of the Seattle game might give him a chance to play in more of those stretch-run contests. The 4-7 Giants have won three consecutive games and are in first place in the NFC East pending the outcome of the Eagles-Seahawks Monday night game in Philadelphia.
“That’s always part of it,” Judge said. “Again, I kind of go back to the first two things I said. It’s just short-term putting him on the field, can he hurt it any worse? I don’t think you want to look at it in terms of this game is not as important as maybe another game coming up. To me, it’s always that one game season. You don’t want to do anything stupid that’s going to risk the player and lose him long-term. But I’ll let the doctors kind of decide what the short-term risk is.”
And he’ll decide what the longer-term benefit is to the Giants.
Daniel Jones might want to play with extra caution in the Giants’ first post-Thanksgiving Day game next year.
For the second time in his two seasons, the Giants’ quarterback was injured in the game immediately after Turkey Day. Last year against Green Bay, he suffered a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for two games – and enabled Eli Manning to enjoy one last triumphant moment.
On Sunday – 72 hours after the holiday – Jones injured his right hamstring in the Giants’ third consecutive victory, a 19-17 triumph against the Bengals in Cincinnati. With his status for next week’s game against Seattle uncertain, Jones latest issue might open the door for Colt McCoy to temporarily join the starting lineup.
Asked after the game if he is confident this won’t be a long-term injury, Jones said, “it’s tough to say. I think we’ll go back and look at it, examine it and go on from there, so that’s my focus now and I’ll certainly look to do that as soon as we get back.”
Did the doctors and athletic trainers indicate he will be able to play next week in Seattle?
“No, you take it day by day and get back and look at it, examine it and work to improve it every day,” he said.
Because the in-depth examination of Jones’ leg had yet to begin, coach Joe Judge also had no definitive answers regarding his quarterback’s status when he spoke to reporters via Zoom after the game.
“I don’t really know much,” Judge said. “I actually talked to him on the sidelines in terms of how he was. It was at a point where he couldn’t continue in the game, which takes a hell of a lot. Daniel is a really tough dude. So, we’ll take a look and see what it is. I don’t have much more information than what you guys probably got from the T.V. at the point right now. He just has the doctors and get some MRI’s – things like that are standard procedure. We kind of MRI everything around here.”
Jones was injured on a seven-yard run with about 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter. He participated in two more plays, including a two-yard pass to Wayne Gallman that he threw without moving his legs, before going to the ground in pain. After he was examined on the field by the Giants’ medical staff, Jones left the field and was replaced by McCoy, the 11-year veteran and first-season Giant, who made his first appearance of the season with 9:39 remaining in the quarter.
Jones returned for the start of the Giants’ next offensive series. But he lasted just two plays and left the game for good after grabbing his hamstring on a pass to Evan Engram that was incomplete.
“Just felt it on that play and didn’t feel like I could get a lot on it really or do what I needed to do to be effective and move the ball and throw it accurately,” Jones said. “Just look to rehab it, do whatever I can to heal it up as fast as I can.”
Jones concluded his day with 16 completions in 27 attempts for 213 yards and neither a touchdown pass nor an interception.
McCoy, the 11-year veteran and first-season Giant, completed six of 10 passes for 31 yards with a long completion of 15 yards in his first appearance of the season. He also rushed for seven yards on five carries.
McCoy had last played on Oct. 6, 2019, when he started for Washington against New England. In his only action of the 2019 season, McCoy completed 18 of 27 passes for 122 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. This was McCoy’s 41st career game. If he takes the first snap against the Seahawks it will be his 29th start.
“You never want to see D.J. go down like that, but we always have to be prepared and be ready,” McCoy said. “It felt good to get out there, call some plays and execute. There’s a few I’d really like to have back, but always thankful to get a win. I thought the defense played outstanding today, kept us in it. This is a tough league, so when you can get three in a row that’s big for our confidence and for our team.”
And they had faith in him.
“I think he came in and managed the game well,” Judge said. “I think he made some big time throws in some tough situations. He ran the ball tough.”
“I thought he did a great job coming in and executing and moving the ball down the field and scoring some points there,” Jones said. “That was big time and obviously I’ve learned a ton from Colt, he’s played a lot of football, been in this league for a long time and I think you were able to see that when he gets out on the field and executes, and how well he did it. Good to see the team get a win down the stretch and I thought Colt did really well.”
Although he doesn’t get first-team reps in practice, McCoy knows he must produce when he’s needed on game day.
“I’m always going to be ready to play, but I hate it for D.J.,” he said. “He was playing really well, just like he has been the last several weeks. I just didn’t want to let our team down. I was going to be prepared and you never know when these situations pop up. I work hard in practice and I know my teammates have confidence in me, and I just tried to go out there and secure the win for us.”
Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman added McCoy for these situations. In addition to being a capable quarterback, McCoy is a mentor to Jones and a helpful practice player.
“We talk about Colt not having a lot of snaps,” Judge said. “I’ll be honest with you, we benefit a lot defensively from having Colt run the offense against us on a weekly basis. I think he benefits from seeing a lot of competition in practice. But nobody gives our defense bigger headaches than Colt. Finally, a period on Friday of him going through the red area is always as tough as it gets because he’s out there to win. He’s out there to compete. He does a lot of things. He’s a veteran. He has a lot of experience to draw from, but at the same time, he keeps himself as prepared as can be. He’s mentally always into it. Physically, he’s ready. I thought he got in the game today and he helped us win.”
Time will tell if McCoy will be called upon to do that again next week.
With Daniel Jones in place as the starting quarterback, the Giants seemingly have their franchise quarterback for years to come. However, with Eli Manning’s retirement, the Giants needed some experience in their quarterback room, which they have found.
The Giants signed QB Colt McCoy, who spent the past five seasons with the Redskins. According to the NY Post’s Ryan Dunleavy, it’s a one year deal worth $2.25 million, which includes $1.5 million guaranteed and could be worth up to $3 million.
“I’m excited to get going in that. I’m sure you guys all know the structure,” McCoy said during a conference call on Wednesday. “I’m assuming Daniel(Jones) is the starting quarterback, he was the sixth pick in the draft, and he has a super bright future. That doesn’t just count out coming in and practicing hard and working hard in the classroom, and in the film room studying.
“I have sort of mentioned on another phone call earlier that for me, I’ve been a backup and a starter,” he continued. “The way that I approach it is, number one, making sure that Daniel feels as comfortable as he can going into these games. Understanding and feeling good about the game plan and our preparation all week long so he can go out and play as best he can.
“I take pride in helping him feel that way and helping Coach Garrett. Being an old guy, you don’t get a lot of reps, but you have to do a lot of mental reps. The second part is the responsibility of being ready to play if something were to happen. You have to go in from the bench and play well, and that’s expected, those two things. I’ve been a starter, and everyone wants to be a starter, but as a backup, it’s just as crucial to handle your business that way. I really feel confident that I bring value to this team and to that quarterback room.”
The 33-year-old McCoy is a reliable backup for the Giants. The 10-year veteran has started 28 games, and he’s not a bad option if Jones falters or gets injured. Obviously, since Jones was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 Draft, it’s probably going to take an injury for McCoy to get playing time in 2020.