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.