Giants’ Judge on Jones’ injury: ‘There are actually more question marks than answers right now’

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.


Giants’ McCoy: ‘I’m always going to be ready to play’

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.


Giants’ Jones: ‘I think our confidence as a team is continuing to grow’

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. 

Eagles’ Pederson says Giants had Philly ‘on the ropes’ in their Week 7 matchup

The New York Giants have been involved in a lot of close games in 2020. New York’s last five games have been decided by 10 points. In those five games, New York is 2-3, and both wins have come against Washington. This is the first season in their history in which they have played five consecutive games with such a small cumulative margin. The last NFL team with five games decided by no more than 10 points was the 1987 Chicago Bears.

In addition, the Giants have also played five straight games decided by three or fewer points in a single season for the first time in their history. No NFL team has played so many consecutive close games in a single season since the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 (who lost all five by a total of 13 points).

This week the Giants host the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles. In their Week 7 matchup against the Eagles, New York was on the verge of defeating Philadelphia after taking a 21-10 lead late in the fourth quarter, but Carson Wentz would lead the Eagles on two scoring drives to get the victory 22-21 at Lincoln Financial Field. According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, New York had his team on the ropes in that contest. 

“I go back and watch our first game, and they have us against the ropes there with just a few minutes left in that game,” Pederson said during a conference call with the New York media on Wednesday. “I’m sure it’s in the back of their mind obviously, as it would be with us. Listen, it’s one of these games, too, where it’s an NFC East opponent, and it doesn’t really matter what happened the first time, the last time, or everything in between. It’s always a good football game, it’s a tough, hard-fought football game, and that’s what we expect.”

This game is another chance for New York to make their move in the NFC East. The Giants are 2-7 and are 2 1/2 games behind the 3-4-1 Eagles, so a win for New York puts them right back in the mix for a division title. A loss and their chances of winning the division are probably over.

“Obviously, it’s a big game,” Giants OG Kevin Zeitler said on Monday. “We know where we’re at; we know where the division is at. Every win in the division is a big thing.”

Giants QB Daniel Jones added: “We’re certainly aware of the situation in the division and where the division stands. I think there’s opportunities for us. You can say it’s coach speak, you can say whatever you want to say it is, but the truth is we have to take it game by game. That’s the reality of how you have to approach these situations if you want to play your best week to week.”

While their record does not indicate it, New York has played decent football at times this season, but they have to find ways to close out games, and if they can find a way to beat the Eagles on Sunday, who knows, maybe the Giants could find a way to be legitimate contenders in the NFC East.

Giants’ Jones: ‘I think those were costly mistakes for us that I have to continue to work on and improve’

The Giants concluded the first half of their season just as they started it, facing one of the NFL’s best teams in MetLife Stadium on Monday Night Football.

On Sept. 14, they hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in Joe Judge’s first game as head coach. The Giants jumped to a 10-3 lead in the second quarter but were eventually worn down by a team that won by 10 points and almost two months later still hasn’t lost a game.

But the promise of that night devolved into an unfulfilling half-season. The Giants have lost leads, close games and, far too often, the ball. Those recurring elements were on display again Monday night in a 25-23 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants might have pulled the game out had it not been for a questionable non-call on a late two-point conversion attempt (more on that later).

The Giants’ last three losses – to Dallas, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay – have been by a total of six points. And they held a fourth-quarter lead in each of them. In earlier defeats to Chicago and the Los Angeles Rams, they had a chance to win or tie the game in the final moments but came up short.

“I think any competitor that’s playing in this league wants to win and wants to improve and show that by results,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “It’s a results business. So yeah, it’s definitely tough, and you want to go out there, after all the hard work, and come out with a win.”

“You talk about closing out the games. To me, closing out the games starts at the opening kickoff,” Judge said. “It’s a culmination of everything you’ve done for 60 minutes. Again, it’s never one player’s mistake, it’s everything collectively. There’s a lot of things that go into it, it’s a coach’s call, it’s how everything operates together on the offense or defense. It’s never one play that eliminates you in a game. It’s the effect of different plays throughout the game that add up.”

On Monday, the Giants owned an 11-point lead in the second quarter and an eight-point advantage at halftime. But Daniel Jones threw interceptions on the second play of the third quarter (leading to a Bucs field goal) and early in the fourth (setting up Tampa Bay’s go-ahead touchdown on Tom Brady’s eight-yard pass to Mike Evans).

“I think those were costly mistakes for us that I have to continue to work on and improve,” Jones said.

The second-year quarterback also overthrew Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton when they were open down the field.

On each of the picks, Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett had a fistful of Jones’ jersey in his hand and the throws were short. The first was picked off by Carlton Davis, the second by Sean Murphy-Bunting. Jones was asked if it would have been wise to hold onto the ball and go onto the next play.

“I think that’s certainly what I have to do is those situations,” he said. “When you’re out there competing and playing hard, you have to be able to understand that part of the game and understand when (the play) is over. I have to do a lot better job there.”

Jones has thrown nine interceptions this season. In every one of his 20 starts, he has thrown an interception or fumbled or both and his 36 turnovers since the start of the 2019 season lead the NFL.

“We’re just going to keep on coaching hard,” Judge said. “We’ve got to find inventive ways coaching it and drilling it. Then, as the player keeps on working, he’ll experience it through play, but there’s a lot of things we have to improve on collectively as coaches and as an entire team to help take him out of some of those situations right there, and it starts with me and we’ve got to keep making sure we put him in the best position possible.”

Of course, Jones has had his share of inspiring and uplifting moments and he was at his best on the Giants’ final drive, when he put them in position to tie the game and perhaps pull out a thrilling victory.

Ryan Succop’s fourth field goal of the game, a 38-yarder, stretched Tampa Bay’s lead to 25-17. The Giants took possession at their own 30-yard line with 3:34 remaining and no timeouts. Jones twice converted fourth downs, including a fourth-and-16 on a 20-yard pass to Shepard. With 28 seconds remaining, he connected with Golden Tate for a 19-yard touchdown to lift the Giants to within 25-23.

A successful two-point conversion likely would have sent the game into overtime. Jones took the snap and threw to his right for Dion Lewis, who had caught his first touchdown pass of the night. Rookie safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. seemed to collide with Lewis just as the ball was bouncing off his right arm.

An official threw his flag. But after a long discussion, referee Brad Rogers announced that no penalty had been committed. The Giants were two still two points shy of their second victory.

“I thought it was pass interference and was surprised when they picked it up,” Jones said. “So, we’ll watch it and learn from it and see what they say. Tough break.”

“I thought (the official) made the right call when he threw the flag,” Judge said. “I’m not sure why it got picked up, we had a pretty good view, I know they can’t use the jumbotron to replay. We had a pretty clear view of that as well. I thought (the official) made the right call the first time, and I thought normally your first instinct is right. That’s all I’m going to say about the officiating.”

Rogers spoke to a pool reporter after the game.

“The side judge (Eugene Hall) had the flag thrown on the play and came to the down judge (Jerod Phillips) who was on that side of the goal line,” Rogers said. “The communication between the side judge and the down judge was that the defender contacted the receiver simultaneously as the ball came in. And in order to have defensive pass interference, it has to be clearly early and hinder the receiver’s ability to make the catch.

“You want to make sure that it meets the qualifications for pass interference. And in our communication on the field, the down judge and the side judge communicated about the action and believed that it was appropriate to pick that flag up.”

The Giants got several solid performances, including Wayne Gallman’s 62 yards from scrimmage, Shepard’s eight catches for 74 yards and Jabrill Peppers’ 10 tackles and two pass breakups.

But in the end, turnovers contributed to another lost lead and another close defeat.

“We were able to make some big plays tonight down the stretch,” Judge said. “Ultimately, we have to overcome some mistakes, and we have to improve collectively as a coaching staff and as a team to give ourselves the best chance to be successful. We’re not asking for moral victories. We understand the people of New York deserve better, so we got to keep working to be better for them.”

They get their next chance Sunday in Washington.


Giants’ Jones: ‘I think everyone on this team feels like we’ve been in the position to win games’

The New York Giants had a great chance to get their first victory of the year on Sunday. However, after leading 17-3 in the second quarter, the Giants(0-5) would allow the Dallas Cowboys(2-3) to get back into the game, and ultimately, the Cowboys would defeat New York 37-34 at AT&T Stadium. 

While the horrific injury to Dak Prescott may have overshadowed the game, this was an exciting contest. Prescott would leave in the third quarter with a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. After relinquishing the lead, the Giants were able to take the go-ahead of Dallas midway through the fourth quarter 34-31 when Devonta Freeman scored on a seven-yard touchdown run.

However, Cowboys backup QB Andy Dalton led the team on two scoring drives, which allowed the Cowboys to tie the game and ultimately win at the buzzer when Greg Zuerlein hit a 37-yard field goal. It was Zuerlein’s second field goal in the final 1:56 after the Giants had taken a 34-31 lead.

The Giants’ 34 points was their highest total since their 41-35 overtime victory in Washington on Dec. 22, 2019. They had scored a total of 47 points and had not scored more than 16 points in their first four games. The 34 points are great, but New York is still 0-5. 

“Look, obviously they’re disappointed after any game where we don’t come out winners, but one thing I know about our team is it’s a resilient group, and it’s a hard-working bunch,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said after the game. “We’ll come back to work this week, we’re going to see great energy, we’re going to have great focus, and we’re going to get tuned in and ready for another division opponent. All of our focus, whether it’s win or loss, shifts to the next opponent the next morning anyway, so we’ve got to clean up this game, get ready for the next opponent, and move on forward.”

According to Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who was 20/33 for 222 yards with no touchdowns and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, New York has to continue to stay the course.

 “I think it’s been a tough start. To say we aren’t disappointed, would be a lie,” Jones said after the game. “We certainly are, it’s been a tough start. I don’t think anyone on this team is discouraged. We’re not going to allow ourselves to be discouraged and let this start affect the rest of this season. We have a lot of football ahead of us, and I think everyone on this team feels like we’ve been in the position to win games, we’ve improved as a team, and we’re capable of winning each of these games.

“So in terms of our confidence as a team and what we believe we’re capable of doing, I think that’s going to be the important thing in us finishing strong and winning these games down the stretch. So, that’s where we are as a team, we’re disappointed, we want to win every game, but we’re not going to let it affect our preparation and how we approach these next 11 games.”

Even at 0-5, New York still has a shot in the lousy NFC East. The Giants are two games behind the Cowboys in the division. The next few weeks for New York is vital as they play division foes Philadelphia and Washington, which Jones discussed after the game

“Yeah, all these divisional games are big games and important games,” Jones said. “Certainly, like I said, at this point we’ve lost, but I don’t feel like we’re out of the division at all. We have a couple big games coming up, and all we can do is prepare as hard as we can and be ready to play those games. Like I said, we’re not going to let this game affect us going forward, and how we prepare for the next opportunity.”

At this point, the Giants are not a good football team, but they played well against the Cowboys, which could be something to build on in the coming weeks.

Giants’ Jones on loss to 49ers: ‘We know that we’re capable of playing a lot better than we did today’

After three games, the 2020 New York Giants are looking a lot like the 2019 version of this team, which finished 4-12. On Sunday against the 49ers, Giants QB Daniel Jones had two turnovers (interception, fumble), and New York(0-3) was routed by San Francisco(2-1) 36-9 at MetLife Stadium.

In three games, Jones, who had 23 turnovers last season, has turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions. New York had only 231 yards of total offense on Sunday, and they did not run a play in the red zone. The second-year quarterback finished the game 17/32, 179 yards, one interception.

“I think you look at each one of those individually and try to understand what happened, what the mistake was, and move on from it,” Jones said after the game. “You know, I need to do a better job, and that’s something I’m focused on. I think those are costly mistakes, and I certainly need to correct them.”

Defensively, New York allowed 49ers backup QB Nick Mullens to throw for 343 yards and one touchdown. The Giants could not get off the field, and were unable to force the 49ers to punt. However, even with the struggles, DE Leonard Williams believes New York has a good football team.

“I do think we do have a really good team and a tough team, and I never see any quit in this team. I believe that we’re right there and we just need to fix a few pieces and a few little gaps here and there and stop beating ourselves,” Williams said. “It’s already hard to beat a team, and it’s going to be harder when we’re making mistakes on ourselves as well, so I just think that we need to overcome a few of those mistakes that we’ve been making and just keep playing hard.”

Jones echoed Williams’ sentiment, and he believes the team will improve moving forward.

“I think for us as a team, and for everyone in the building, it’s important that we correct the things that went wrong,” Jones said. “We understand what went wrong and we’ll improve from this game, and not to let it define us as a team. We know that we’re capable of playing a lot better than we did today. I think there were a lot of things that happened that were uncharacteristic of who we are and what we can be.

“As a team, we need to understand that we need to move forward and go back to work determined to play better and to fix the things that have gotten in our way these first few weeks. We’re not going to let it affect our confidence; we’re certainly not going to let it affect how we work and how hard we attack this week, how hard we attack the preparation towards the Rams. I think we have the guys in the locker room to do it, and that mindset and that approach this week will be key.”

The Giants have to get better play out of Jones. He has a lot of ability, but the turnovers continue to get in the way. It’s still early, and the Giants play in a lousy division. However, at 0-3, if things don’t turn around fast, it could be another long season in New York.  Hopefully, for New York, the turnaround starts next week on the road against the Rams. 


Giants’ Jones: ‘Definitely tough to see anyone go down, especially a guy that works as hard as Saquon(Barkley)’

On Sept. 22, 2019, Saquon Barkley was carted off the field at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa with a sprained ankle that subsequently forced him to miss three games, the first absences of his career.

Fast forward to exactly 52 weeks later, on Sunday afternoon in Soldier Field in Chicago. The Giants’ third-year running back again needed assistance to get to the locker room. This time, the injury is to his right knee, suffered on the first play of the second quarter of a 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. How long he will be sidelined was not immediately known.

Barkley will undergo a thorough examination on Monday. And while the news could be bad, coach Joe Judge put up a brave front.

“Obviously we’re all praying for the best,” Judge said in a postgame Zoom call with reporters. “I would just say this, regardless of whatever the outcome is going to be and what the doctors say tomorrow, I wouldn’t fall asleep on 26. It’s going to be a hell of a story either way.”

The Giants hope it is one with a happy ending. But they are aware Barkley could be sidelined for an extended period.

“Definitely tough to see anyone go down, especially a guy that works as hard as Saquon does,” quarterback Daniel Jones said. “And, you know, we don’t know what it is yet, but certainly keeping our thoughts and prayers with him. He’s a guy that comes to work every day. I know he’ll attack any challenge, and we’re all here to support him. So, yeah, always tough to see a teammate go down.

“I don’t think anyone knows exactly what the injury is or what that sets us up for. So, dealing in hypotheticals right now isn’t the most productive thing. But whatever it is, we’ll respond as a team and do the best we can going forward.”

Barkley wasn’t the only key offensive player to leave the game with an injury. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who led the Giants with 57 catches last season despite missing six games, hurt his toe in the second quarter and did not return.

The unfortunate irony is this was the first game in which the Giants had all their offensive weapons in uniform at the same time. In addition to Barkley and Shepard, wide receivers Golden Tate and Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram all played.

“Certainly, a tough break there for us today,” Jones said. “But I know those guys will battle and I think they’ll attack the challenge and we’re excited to support them, and we’ll have guys step up. So whatever the situation is, we’ll attack it and respond as a team.”

Barkley was hurt as he was running right. He gained six yards before cornerback Eddie Jackson came up to stop him, grabbed Barkley high and threw him to the ground. Barkley’s right leg seemed to land awkwardly and as soon as he hit the ground, he grabbed his knee and then removed his helmet.

Barkley did not put weight on his leg as he was helped to the bench area by Judge and assistant athletic trainer Justin Maher. He was placed on a cart and transported to the locker room. The Giants announced Barkley would not return to the game and will undergo an examination on Monday.

“In terms of carrying Saquon off the field that was just simply he’s a big dude and I wanted to make sure we get him over there with the least amount of stress on his leg as possible, and tried to just take the weight off,” Judge said.

Although he had just four carries, Barkley led the Giants Sunday with 28 rushing yards. Wayne Gallman was inactive, so eight-year veteran Dion Lewis took over at running back. He finished with 20 yards on 10 carries, including a one-yarder for the Giants’ only touchdown, and four catches for 36 yards.

Lewis, who joined the team as a free agent on April 1, said he is prepared to take on a larger role if necessary. But for both team and personal reason, he would much prefer it not be at the expense of his friend and teammate.

“He’s Saquon Barkley, so you lose a guy like that, it’s a huge loss,” Lewis said. “But you know, as a team, everybody’s gotta step up. Receivers gotta step up, O-line’s gotta step up, running backs have gotta step up, quarterback’s gotta step up, defense has gotta step up, everybody has gotta step up. It’s not going to be one person who steps up to make up for what he’s done, it’s going to take all of us.”

Lewis said he spoke to Barkley after the game.

“I just told him to keep his head up, stay positive, believe in God,” Lewis said. “Nobody knows what’s really going on right now, so just try to keep his head up. He’s a great kid, and we’ve grown extremely close since I’ve been here, so you know, definitely feel for him.”

Defensive players echoed Lewis’ concern.

“It’s definitely a tough moment,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “I don’t know exactly what’s going on completely, but I saw him and said, ‘Hey, I’m praying for a quick recovery for whatever it ends up being.’ I hope to see him back as soon as possible.”

“Of course, your heart stops for a minute,” cornerback James Bradberry said. “But we really don’t know the verdict of Saquon’s injury right now, so prayers up to him and we’re hoping for the best.”

Shepard was injured on a 24-yard reception with just eight seconds left in the half. He was stopped by rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Shepard returned to the sideline at the start of the second half but soon returned to the locker room.

“Looked like the defensive back landed on his foot at the end of the first half,” Judge said. “He caught that big ball across the middle in that two-minute sequence. He tried to play through it. Obviously, it was something he couldn’t really run full speed on. So, we’ll see what the doctor says.”

The Giants will know much more about the condition of Barkley and Shepard after they are examined on Monday.


Giants’ Jones: ‘I certainly feel like I played good at times and bad at times’

For all NFL teams, each game is a collision of good and bad, of highlights to be savored and lowlights to endure. It is a tussle to maximize the positive while striving to eliminate the negative.

So it was for the Giants in their season opener Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They had plenty of moments to build on offensively and defensively, players who performed impressively and plays that would have brought cheering fans out of their seats – had there actually been fans in the seats.

But plenty of disappointing plays also punctuated the Giants’ 26-16 loss in Joe Judge’s coaching debut in empty and silent MetLife Stadium.

Indeed, all the good and the bad were on display in one third-quarter possession, when the Giants traveled 87 yards – from their own nine-yard line to the Pittsburgh four – yet inexplicably and hauntingly scored zero points because Daniel Jones – under pressure from linebacker Bud Dupree – floated a pass to Darius Slayton that was intercepted by defensive tackle Cameron Heyward – the first pick of his 10-year career.

T.J. Watt had intercepted a Jones’ pass in the second quarter and those two turnovers led to nine Steelers points, a not insignificant number in a game decided by 10 points.

“He had two throws I know he wants back. Down at the goal line, that’s something we can’t have happen,” Judge said. “Look, I’ll talk to Daniel a little bit more about it, I’ll watch the tape and make sure we clean up everything involved. That’s definitely something you can’t have, 19-play drive and come away with no points, especially down there in the low red (zone). That’s not acceptable, but I’m proud of the way he played aggressive, I’m proud of the way this team stuck together.”

Jones completed numerous pinpoint passes despite absorbing three sacks and constant pressure from Pittsburgh’s ravenous defense. The numbers were 26-of-41 for 279 yards.

Fellow second-year pro Darius Slayton caught six of those throws for 102 yards and scored both of the Giants’ touchdowns, from 41 and seven yards (the latter with 1:52 remaining and the Giants in catch-up mode). Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley also had six catches each.

But Barkley and the running game couldn’t gain traction behind the Giants’ new-look offensive line. He rushed for only six yards on 15 carries. Jones led the team with 22 yards on four attempts.

“I’m not really too concerned with the stats,” Barkley said. “You have to give credit where credit is due. They have a great defense, especially their defensive front. They made some plays and we weren’t able to win the game today.”

Defensively, new middle linebacker and captain Blake Martinez tallied a team-high 12 tackles (eight solo) and linemen Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence registered sacks. But the unit did not force a turnover and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns, two to JuJu Smith-Schuster.

“This is a team that makes a lot of explosive plays,” Judge said. “I think [defensive coordinator] Pat [Graham] was able to limit some of the production early on, really do a good job against the run game early on, forced them to be one-dimensional, put a lot of pressure on Ben. That was good for our defense, that limited some of the exposure the guys had. They made adjustments, they’re a good team, they’re going to take some shots down the field. That’s a very talented team, very talented offensive skill group. When you play the Steelers, you have to understand they’re going to make plays.”

The Giants are convinced they should have made more. On the game’s eighth snap, Pittsburgh’s Diontae Johnson muffed a Riley Dixon punt and Devante Downs recovered the ball for the Giants at the Pittsburgh three. Barkley gained one yard before Jones threw a pair of incompletions, forcing Graham Gano to kick his first Giants field goal, a 21-yarder.

After the Steelers tied the score on Chris Boswell’s 41-yard field goal, Slayton beat cornerback Steven Nelson and caught Jones’ perfect strike to put the Giants back on top. The defense forced a three-and-out, but Watt intercepted Jones on the Giants’ first play, leading to Roethlisberger’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Smith-Schuster. Boswell’s extra point try bounced off the right upright and the Giants still held the lead at 10-9.

But they couldn’t hold it until halftime. The Steelers took possession at their own 22 with 1:32 remaining in the second quarter. They never faced a third down as Roethlisberger directed an eight-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard touchdown pass to James Washington with seven seconds left that gave Pittsburgh a 16-10 lead it never relinquished.

“We have to do better at the end of the half, we have to finish ourselves in the red area, so those are the big things that stuck out right there,” Judge said.

The Giants seemed poised to jump back ahead in the third quarter, when they executed their longest drive in six years. The Giants converted five third downs on the series, the first when Jones hit Slayton for 18 yards on third-and-14 before gaining 15, four and six yards on successive third downs, concluding with a five-yard pass to Sterling Shepard that kept the march moving. Barkley’s longest run of the night, a seven-yarder, left the Giants just four yards from the goal line. But Dupree’s pressure forced Jones to throw while he was falling backwards and Heyward’s interception proved to be a gut punch to the Giants.

“Obviously a play I’d like to have back,” Jones said.  “I’d like to have a chance to look at it with the coaches tomorrow and we’ll look into it. That’s a costly mistake there after a long drive, so… you know, something I got to work on and improve on. … We can’t afford those mistakes in those situations.”

After the pick, the Steelers ran 20 plays and scored 10 points while the Giants ran three and punted. The Giants did not score again until the game was virtually out of reach.

“I think as an offense, I thought we did some good things and some not so good things,” Jones said, “and I certainly feel like I played good at times and bad at times.”

He wasn’t alone.

Giants’ Slayton believes Jones is a different player in 2020

With the NFL season almost upon us, all 32 teams are optimistic about the possibilities, including the New York Giants. Last season, the Giants struggled and finished 4-12, which was expected. As they enter the 2020 season, New York has a new coach in Joe Judge, and they could have their franchise quarterback in Daniel Jones.

In 2019, Jones, who was the sixth overall pick in that year’s draft, came into the season as Eli Manning’s backup. As he enters the 2020 season, Jones, who threw for 3027 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, is the starting quarterback for New York, and according to Giants WR Darius Slayton, Jones is a different guy.

 “I think the biggest area of growth for him is just taking a big step from year one to year two as far as just command, and that comes with obviously, coming into a new system this year, learning and getting it down,” Slayton said on Thursday. “But, I think one thing that he grew as the season went on last year was his command, and I think he’s continued to build on that this year as far as his command of the huddle. At the line of scrimmage, being sure of himself, being assertive. I think he’s done a great job of also developing his leadership skills as well.”

Giants president and CEO, John Mara, is confident that Jones can be the guy for the team moving forward.

“I feel good about him right now, the amount of work he’s put in, the way he’s looked at camp,” Mara said. “I’d like to see him take the next step this year. I’m confident that he will do that. The thing that is gratifying to me is that I know our coaching staff is very high on him right now. Guys that have been around successful quarterbacks in the past, and they think that he has what it takes to get us to the next level. Every indication so far is that he does have what it takes. I feel good about where Daniel is right now. Obviously, we want to see him move to the next level. But I think he did a good job last year. Obviously, he had the issue with the (NFL-high 23) turnovers. But he showed a lot of grit and a lot of promise and made a lot of big plays. I think with the right supporting cast around him, I think the sky is the limit for him.”

It will be difficult for teams to be a cohesive unit from the start without a preseason. Still, at this point, Jones is confident in the Giants’ offense as they get ready for the season-opener against Pittsburgh.

“We’ve done a good job as a team simulating some of those preseason games and trying to get reps with a game feel to it, practicing a lot of situations and a lot of things that would come up during games,” Jones said. “I feel like as a team, as an offense, we are in a good spot. We’ve had a good camp and made progress every day towards where we need to be. Next week, we’ll be into game prep and into Week One. I feel like we’ve had a good camp, and we’ve been able to simulate a lot of the game like situations that you would have gotten in the preseason.”

Giants RB Saquon Barkley added this about not having a preseason: “My first really live-action has been Week One to be completely honest. But as a team, I think even though we haven’t faced any other teams, I think from the coaching staff, they did a really good job this camp of simulating what it’s actually going to be like. I see what you guys say about practice, how it’s hard, and this and that. But I think it’s done a really good job for us because we needed that. Like you said, the preseason has gone away. We also did a really good job of getting guys opportunities and chances to show what we’re able to do and what we’re able to bring to the table, and also prepare us and get us ready for the first game of the year.”

Teams that have good quarterbacks always have a chance in the NFL, and for the Giants, who have won only nine games in the last two seasons, Jones’ improvement and command of the offense could make things better for this team in 2020.