After missing a game due to a hamstring injury, Giants QB Daniel Jones returned on Sunday against the Cardinals, and unfortunately for him, it was a struggle.
Jones and Colt McCoy were under pressure all day against Arizona and were sacked eight times, including five by Cardinals LB Haason Reddick. Jones finished the game 11/21 for 127 yards with no touchdowns and three fumbles, one of which was lost. Ultimately, New York(5-8) would fall to Arizona 26-7 at MetLife Stadium.
New York totaled 159 offensive yards, their lowest total since they gained 150 yards in a 38-0 loss at Carolina on Sept. 22, 2013. In addition, New York’s seven points are their lowest total since they were shut out by the Tennessee Titans, 17-0, on Dec. 16, 2018.
Jones seemed limited on Sunday and finished the game without a rushing attempt for the first time in his career.
On Monday, Giants head Joe Judge was still comfortable with his decision to start Jones against Arizona.
“I just go back to we saw he could protect himself in the pocket and move fluidly through the pocket,” Judge said. “He could get rid of the ball if he needed. If he had to eat a sack at some point, that was something we were going to go into the game plan, knowing it could happen. Obviously, there are some things that come up in the game. You get hit in the pocket at certain points. He is no different than the other 31 quarterbacks in the NFL. They all deal with the same risks every time they drop back in the pocket. To answer you directly, he was able to protect himself yesterday. No, there is no regrets, there’s no second-guessing. We took a lot of time discussing a lot of things, scenarios with doctors, coaches, making sure it was the best position for the team. That’s the decision we went with and move forward.”
If Judge feels Jones is healthy and looks the way he did in practice last week, Jones will start next Sunday night against Cleveland.
“Yeah, if Daniel is healthy to play and he looked the way he did in practice last week, I’d have no hesitation of playing Daniel at all,” Judge said. “We made a calculation. We have a lot of confidence in Colt (McCoy). This has nothing to do with Colt. But there’s also a commitment we’ve made to Daniel as our quarterback and how we’re running this offense. We have confidence in all of our players. But if he’s healthy enough to go out there and protect himself, and we don’t feel he’s putting himself in greater danger to be injured worse, and he’s going to give the team a competitive advantage of going out there, then we’re going to play him.
If Jones looks the way he did against Arizona, McCoy gives New York the best chance to defeat Cleveland. Jones needs to be able to move and use his legs. He did not have that against Arizona, and it showed. The Giants are fighting for supremacy in the NFC East, and after the loss to Arizona, they are a game behind the first-place Washington Football Team(6-7), so these final three games are huge for the Giants, and they need Jones to be at his best for them to win those games.
Over the past four years, the New York Giants have had a hard time defeating their NFC East rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Coming into Sunday’s game, Philadelphia had beaten New York eight straight times, but all of that ended on Sunday. Behind QB Daniel Jones, who threw for 244 yards and ran for 64 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown run, the Giants defeated the Eagles 27-17.
With the victory, New York(3-7) wins their second straight game and are 1.5 games behind the Eagles(3-5-1) for the top spot in the NFC East. According to Jones, who had a season-high passer rating for the second week in a row – 100.9 after posting a 94.2 rating last week in Washington, New York’s confidence is growing.
“I think our confidence as a team is continuing to grow,” Jones said. “We were certainly frustrated through the first stretch of the season. Frustrated not to get the results we expected, but we didn’t let that discourage us. We didn’t let it affect our confidence week in and week out. We continue to improve, continue to work towards the next week, and I think that’s ultimately what has helped us do that, continue and grow, and the challenge is to keep doing that, and we’ll continue to build confidence through that work and through that improvement.”
For the second straight week, Jones was turnover-free, and Giants head coach Joe Judge sees a quarterback who’s getting better.
“This guy is a young player who is developing; he’s learning a lot every week,” Judge said. “You can see his improvement week to week. Sometimes there’s something you want to get off the tape, and he understands that, and we correct that in practice, working hard. But there’s a lot of games he’s played where maybe there’s a blemish that takes away from the 99% of the really good football he has played. But Daniel continues to be an improving player, he’s a tough dude, mentally and physically, and that spreads throughout our entire team. When he steps into that huddle, there’s 10 guys looking at him knowing he’s going to be the one to give them the answer to the problem on the field.”
Giants S Jabrill Peppers, who was apart of the Giants’ defense that held Philadelphia to 0-for-9 on third-down conversion attempts, feels the team is buying into what Judge is selling.
“Joe(Judge) has been a part of a lot of winning programs,” Peppers said. “All we had to do was buy-in. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. A lot of the times, it was more execution things. When you see how close you are, and then it’s a play here and a play there, it kind of keeps you wanting to keep pushing and keep chomping at the bit. You have to stay bought in because it’s going to turn and we felt that. We were in it damn near every game we played, and it just came to a couple plays here and there. That’s our mindset, man. We’re going to stick to the script, come to work to get better each and every day and execute on game days.”
It appears the Giants could be the best team in the NFC East, and in the last two weeks, the Giants have shown the ability to close out games. If the Giants keep playing at this level, don’t be surprised if they represent the NFC East in the playoffs this season.