Barkley, Manning, Jones react to the end of Pat Shurmur in New York

On Monday, the New York Giants decided to fire head coach Pat Shurmur. In two seasons with the Giants, Shurmur was 9-23. General manager Dave Gettleman will remain in his position, the team announced on Monday.

After the announcement of Shurmur’s dismissal, Eli Manning, Daniel Jones, and Saquon Barkley reacted.

Here is what they had to say:

Eli Manning:

Q: What’s your reaction to the firing today?

Manning: Coach Shurmur and I had a great relationship. I think he is a great coach, I think he is a wonderful man and (I’m) just disappointed. I think you always feel responsible when a coach gets fired. It’s obviously because as players we didn’t do our part. We didn’t play well enough, we didn’t win enough games. I feel for him and all the coaches. They worked hard and did a lot of hard work and a lot of good things. Obviously, just didn’t win enough games for them to stay on and move forward, so (I’m) disappointed.

Daniel Jones:

Q: How did the firing of your head coach hit you?

Jones: It’s tough. Obviously, that’s I guess part of the business and part of being at this level. But it’s tough on me, tough on all of us.

Q: What are you feeling right now?

Jones: Just disappointed. Coach (Pat Shurmur) obviously believed in me, Coach believed in all of us, and it’s disappointing. I’m grateful to him for the opportunity. I think he’s an excellent football coach and I really appreciate what he’s done for us.

Q: When something like this happens, do the players feel a part of it, as though they’re responsible as well?

Jones: Absolutely, no question. It’s a tough deal, but everyone is responsible. The players are very, very largely responsible for how this season has gone. I certainly feel responsible, and I think that’s the tough part. That’s the way we should feel and that’s the way it is. Everyone on this team feels that way. We have to use that to motivate us going into the offseason and make sure that we’re not in this position next year.

Q: He addressed you guys. Can you give us a little bit of insight into what that was like? He addressed you guys as a team?

Jones: He did, yeah. He let us know of the situation and told us that he appreciated us, our effort. Coach’s class and just who he is as a man was always apparent. It was apparent in that meeting also. I think the world of him. I have the ultimate amount of respect for him as a coach and as a person.

Q: Is it important to you that the next head coach be a quarterback guy, have a quarterback background?

Jones: That’s not necessarily up to me and well above my pay grade. My job is to work as hard as I can to improve, to learn the system and work with the next coach.

Q: In that vein, obviously, you’re not making the decision, but what kind of general characteristics would you be hoping for that the new head coach would have?

Jones: I don’t know. Just an energy and excitement for this team. I think the next head coach will do that. I trust the people making that decision. Like I said, my job is to work as hard as I can to learn the system and to continue to improve as a player.

Q: Going into the future, you’re the franchise quarterback. How do you accept the responsibility of being the quarterback of the New York Giants?

Jones: Just work hard every day to improve. Where we are right now as a team, where I am right now as a player, is not where we need to be. I feel that, I think this team feels that. If we want to get where we want to go, we’re going to have to use this, to learn from this. Otherwise, the season would have been pointless. We need to use it to motivate us, use it to improve going into the offseason.

Q: There are going to be several head coaching positions open in the NFL. What do you think makes the Giants’ opening so attractive?

Jones: I think, one, it’s a historic franchise with a lot of tradition. This team has a chance to, like I said, continue to improve. We have guys who can build a special team, be a part of a special team, and that’s our goal. We’re excited about this team. We know we have an opportunity to be special and we’re determined to do that. I think just the opportunity to be a part of this organization, this historic organization, is something anyone would be excited about.

Saquon Barkley:

Q: Are you surprised by the news of what happened with Coach (Pat) Shurmur?

Barkley: Yeah, I was surprised by it. Upset, we’re all upset. I’ve been preaching all season whenever anyone asked me about what I think about if our coaching staff are the right people, I always kept saying it’s easy to point the finger at one person. But at the end of the day, kind of like what DG (Dave Gettleman) said in the meeting, we’re all responsible. We’re all responsible for these last two seasons. Coach Shurmur is a heck of a person, heck of a coach, and definitely helped me develop over these last two years.

Q: How hard was it today when you heard the news?

Barkley: Very hard. It sucks. That’s your coach. He’s one of the guys that believed in me, believed in DJ (Daniel Jones), for us to get here and live our dreams of playing in the NFL. You don’t want to see anybody go out like that. It sucks because, like I said, you point the finger at one person. It wasn’t all him, it’s all of us. We just need to take that and learn from the lesson, and in the future, to be better.

Q: I think it’s probably just another reality of the NFL that as you move on in your career, that these things happen at this level?

Barkley: Yeah, definitely a hard reality. You understand what the NFL is, it’s a business. At some points, it’s going to happen to everybody. No matter if you go out your first year and as a rookie, you get cut, or you’re in year 12. At some point, it’s going to come to an end. You just have to cherish the moments, cherish the time you have in the locker room with your coaches and with your teammates, and try to take full advantage of the opportunities you have.

Giants’ Tisch: ‘We understand how frustrated our fans are’

The Giants today announced they have dismissed head coach Pat Shurmur after two seasons.

The team also confirmed that general manager Dave Gettleman will remain in his position.

Team president John Mara and chairman Steve Tisch revealed those decisions this morning, about 14 hours after the Giants concluded their 2019 season with a 34-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and a 4-12 record.

The Giants were 9-23 in 2018-19 and have not won more than five games in any of the last three seasons.

“Steve and I have had many extensive discussions about the state of the Giants,” Mara said. “This morning, we made the very difficult decision that it would be in the best interest of the franchise that we relieve Pat of his duties. The last three seasons have been extremely disappointing for the organization and our fans. Pat has been a successful and highly-respected NFL coach for 21 years and he is not solely responsible for our record. But we came to the conclusion it is best to have a fresh start with the coaching staff. We very much appreciate how much Pat has done for this franchise. He is a man of character and integrity and the team has conducted itself with pride and professionalism.

“As owners, we take full responsibility for our recent poor record. It is our goal to consistently deliver high-quality football and we will do everything in our power to see that there is a rapid and substantial turnaround.”

Added Tisch, “The last two seasons have been a continuation of what has been a very difficult and disappointing period for our franchise. It is never easy to part with someone the caliber of Pat. But John and I came to the conclusion that we need a new voice in the coach’s office and made the decision to bring in new leadership.

“We understand how frustrated our fans are. They expect more from us and we expect more from ourselves. Our focus now is on developing and improving our football team so that our fans can enjoy the winning team they expect and deserve.”

Mara and Tisch believe that Gettleman is the best general manager for the team. His first draft class included running back Barkley, the No. 2 overall selection who set numerous records in his debut season and was selected the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. In addition, his 2018 draft choices included Will Hernandez, who has started all 32 games in his two seasons at left guard, linebacker Lorenzo Carter and defensive tackle B.J. Hill.

This year, the Giants drafted 10 players, including Jones, who started 12 games and established numerous franchise rookie records, including 24 touchdown passes. Jones is expected to be a fixture at the game’s most important position for many years.

The 2019 draft class also included Darius Slayton, a fifth-round selection whose eight touchdown receptions tied him for first among NFL rookie wideouts; Dexter Lawrence, who started all 16 games; linebackers Oshane Ximines and Ryan Connelly; and defensive backs DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Corey Ballentine.

“Dave Gettleman is our general manager in 2020 and hopefully for many years after that,” Mara said. “We believe he is the right person to lead us going forward. Dave has a long record of success. We think he’s capable of putting a great team together and he’s going to get that opportunity. To the extent we need to make changes in personnel or the way we do things, we’re going to discuss that.”

“Although our record didn’t reflect it this season, we believe Dave has assembled a strong nucleus of young players that will help us compete for championships in the future,” Tisch said.

Shurmur was named the 18th head coach in Giants history on Jan. 22, 2018.

The Giants finished their first season under Shurmur with a 5-11 record, a two-game improvement over their 2017 record.

Twelve of the Giants’ 16 games that season were decided by seven or fewer points, tying them with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for the most in the NFL. The Giants were 4-8 in games decided by seven or fewer points. The eight losses in such games were an NFL high. The Giants held a fourth-quarter lead in four of those games.

The Giants began the 2019 season 2-2, with the two victories coming in Jones’ initial starts after Shurmur decided the rookie would replace 16-year veteran Eli Manning as the team’s starting quarterback. But after defeating Washington on Sept. 29, the Giants tied a franchise record by losing nine consecutive games and falling to 2-11. They did not win again until Dec. 15, when they beat the Miami Dolphins. That was the second of two games in which Manning substituted for Jones, who was sidelined by a sprained ankle.

Mara and Tisch said they will immediately begin their search for a new coach. They did not identify any candidates.

“The search will be extensive,” Mara said. “We understand this a very big decision for our franchise. We’ve had three losing years in a row and, quite frankly, we have lost some standing as an organization. When you have three losing years in a row as we have, you face a lot of criticism. A lot of it is deserved. It’s up to us now to turn that around and get back to where I think we should be.”

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Giants’ Shurmur explains decision to waive CB Janoris Jenkins

On Friday, the Giants announced that cornerback Janoris Jenkins had been waived, which comes days after he argued with a fan on social media.

On Wednesday, the 31-year-old Jenkins got into it with a fan on Twitter. During their exchange, Jenkins called the fan a “retard.” Jenkins would apologize a few hours later via Twitter. 

On Thursday, Jenkins explained his use of the word “retard”: 

“Where I’m from, we use all kind of words for slang,” Jenkins said via nypost.com. “If it offends anybody, I’m sorry,” Jenkins said. “It’s a culture that I grew up in where I’m from. You know what I’m saying, we use all kinds of words for all kinds of slang. If you don’t know, it’s a hood thing or whatever.”

Jenkins joined the Giants as a free agent in 2016 after signing a five-year, $62.5 million deal. He started every game since the beginning of the 2018 season, a streak that reached 29 in a row vs. the Eagles. This year, he leads the team with 14 passes defensed and is sixth with 54 tackles (48 solo). 

Here is what Giants head coach Pat Shurmur had to say about Jenkins on Friday:

Q: How did you go about the process of determining today’s news on Janoris (Jenkins)?

Shumur: I released a statement, so I really don’t have much more to add other than the fact that I spoke to him. My understanding was he made an apology. After the apology, he made an attempt to rationalize his beliefs. Then yesterday, there was a decision made top down that we were going to move on.

Q: Is there more to it than just this incident? Was this like a final straw type situation?
A: I wouldn’t call it a final straw. Anytime moves are made, it’s obviously more than one thing.

Q: How much did his comments yesterday factor into the final decision, because you said you had spoken to him before?

Shumur: Yeah, it had something to do with it, for sure.

Q: He had used that word before in August of last year. Was he disciplined then for it?

Shurmur: Last year? I wasn’t aware that he used it, so no. I wasn’t aware that he used that word. It’s not a word you should use. I made that very, very clear yesterday. I made it clear to him as well.

Q: You guys made a big point of putting him in a leadership role and feeling confident about putting him in that role. Do you regret that seeing how things have played out?

Shurmur: No. You know what, you try to get all of the players to grow with regard to leadership. There are many things about Rabbit that… He practiced, he worked hard. As an older player, we had, as you all know, we have a very young group, so you try to promote leadership in all of the players. Just like working on any other element of a player’s game, you try to help them become better leaders.

Q: He had said some controversial things about the actual team earlier this year. The pass rush, then (Defensive Coordinator James) Bettcher. Every time you sat down with him, do you feel like he was listening to you then in hindsight or was he lying to you?

Shurmur: I had a relationship where I could talk to him and be very frank about my feelings all the way along. Our ability to communicate all along has been good. He was able to explain to me what he meant by what he said. (I’ll) just leave it at that.

Q: Were you surprised then how after sitting down with him, that that’s how it went from when you sat down to him to what he came out and said publicly afterwards?

Shurmur: I have nothing more to say on it. I’m not surprised by anything right now.

Q: Why cut instead of suspend? Why such a final decision?

Shurmur: It was just something we felt was best from the top down. That’s why. I don’t need to get into the rest of it

Giants’ Shurmur on Jones: ‘If he’s healthy enough to play, then he’ll play’

Uncertainty continues to be the buzzword regarding the identity of the Giants’ starting quarterback as they prepare to host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Daniel Jones’ sprained right ankle, which forced him to the inactive list Monday night in Philadelphia, continues to improve and he participated on a limited basis in the team’s jog-through today. He was joined by Eli Manning, who took every snap in the Giants’ 23-17 overtime loss to the Eagles and would again step in for Jones if the rookie can’t play.

Coach Pat Shurmur was asked when the team needs to know who will start.

“When the time is right,” he said. “The skill players have been interchanged so much that they’ve had a chance to work with both quarterbacks. It’s going to be the same type of game plan regardless of who’s playing. The sooner, the better. But all the way up to game time.”

That would give Jones the longest time frame in which to heal.

“If he’s healthy enough to play, then he’ll play,” Shurmur said. “It’s always medical. If he’s cleared, he’s cleared.”

Jones was hurt against Green Bay on Dec. 1. He has shed the walking boot he wore last week and continues to progress.

“I feel good,” Jones said. “I think I’ve gotten a lot better over the course of the last week. I’m taking it day to day, doing what they tell me I can do. I’m starting to move around a little bit more and it feels good. Keep trusting that process and like I said, try to get back out there as quickly as I can.”

Jones answered carefully when asked if he is “operating with the idea” that he might play Sunday.

“I think I’m trying to prepare to play,” Jones said. “Like I said, we are going to take it day to day. It will be evaluated how I feel throughout the week then a decision will be made. My job is to prepare to play.”

So is Manning’s. Shurmur said the 16-year veteran took the first-team snaps today. The Giants held a jog-through because it began less than 36 hours after the game ended. They will hold a standard practice tomorrow.

Manning will not let the ambiguity of the situation affect his work week.

“You still go about your practice, go about your preparation getting ready for Miami,” Manning said. “Got a lot of work, kind of an unfamiliar team, we don’t play them that often. So, just get in the film work, get the game plan and just see how it goes.”

Asked what he thinks his chances are of starting, Manning said, “I don’t know, we’ll kind of see how the week goes. Either way, you just prepare. Each day, I think we’ll get a little bit more insight into what’s going on.”

Jones started the 10 games prior to Monday night. Shurmur cited some hurdles Jones must clear – figuratively – if he is to face the Dolphins.

“I think we need to be smart coming back from any injury,” Shurmur said. “In the case of a quarterback, aside from going out and throwing, they certainly need to be able to protect themselves, and part of his game is moving around. I just want to make sure he’s healthy enough and fit enough to do that.

“I think if he’s ready to play, he should play. Part of what’s going on this year for him is helping us win games. He’s out there, every time he plays, he’s trying to help us win games. Then along the way here, there’s a lot of great development that happens for a young quarterback. Guys that are healthy and able, in our estimation, should be out there playing.”

It will likely be a few days until we learn if he will.

“We just have to see how (Jones) does by the end of the week,” Shurmur said. “He’s out here. He’s out of the boot, he’s into his regular shoes and he’s out here practicing. Again, we didn’t do much today. We’ll just have to see how he feels by the end of the week to see if he fits into the equation here.”

*Manning completed 15 of 30 passes for 203 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in Philadelphia.  But both he and the offense produced little in a second half in which the Giants were held scoreless.

“Some good, some bad,” Manning said of his performance. “There are always going to be plays – could’ve hung with the receiver a little longer here, made a certain throw there. So, some good stuff but also always plays that could be better.”

*Manning deflected a question about the potential of Sunday’s game being his final home start – or final start, period. The Giants will host the Eagles in their season finale, a game Jones might play even if he doesn’t suit up on Sunday.

“We’ll figure it out as the week goes,” Manning said. “Again, nothing is being decided today. All I can worry about is just getting prepared to play. Either way, whether I’m the starter or not, I’m going to be prepared. Just go about my business getting myself ready and getting the team ready to play.”

*Guard Kevin Zeitler (ankle/wrist) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (ankle) did not make it to the practice field because of their injuries.

*In addition to Jones, three players were limited: wide receiver Golden Tate (foot) and tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion, non-contact). Cornerback Corey Ballentine, who did not play Monday because of a concussion, was a full participant.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Giants’ Jones on fumbles: ‘I think it is as simple as keeping two hands on the ball and getting it out on time’

Daniel Jones is having a statistically-impressive rookie season with one notable exception. And he is determined to correct that shortcoming.

The Giants’ first-round draft choice has completed 63% of his passes for just under 2,000 yards and he leads all rookie quarterbacks with 15 touchdown passes. Jones is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with two games with at least 300 passing yards and four touchdown passes. The Giants will resume their season on Sunday in Chicago knowing Jones has been particularly productive in visiting stadiums. In four road starts, he is responsible for 13 touchdowns (11 passing, two rushing) and has a 101.9 passer rating (as opposed to 73.9 at home).

But no discussion of Jones’ debut season is complete without mentioning his giveaways. He has thrown eight interceptions in nine games (eight starts), which is not a terribly high number, particularly for a rookie. But he has lost nine of 13 fumbles, both NFL-high figures. In each of the Giants’ last three games – defeats to Detroit, Dallas and the Jets that extended their losing streak to six games – one of Jones’ fumbles was returned for a touchdown.

Jones is determined to reduce the number of times he loses his grip on the ball in the Giants’ final six games.

“There’s certainly a number of things that I need to work on, but yeah, that’s definitely one of them,” he said today. “And it probably is the most critical thing that I need to correct, so I’ll work on that.”

Although he is well-aware of the statistics, Jones denied he is “thinking maybe a little too much about it,” as a reporter suggested.

“I don’t think so,” Jones said. “I think it’s something that I need to be mindful of constantly. It’s not like a golf swing or something where you – it’s about being mindful of it and being aware in the pocket, protecting it and getting the ball out on time. I think all those things are important for me to stay mindful of.”

Coach Pat Shurmur, who constantly preaches ball protection, said there is “not a common theme on his fumbles.” Jones is ultimately responsible for all of them, but Shurmur said mitigating circumstances contributed to several of the fumbles.

“There were a couple of times where a guy didn’t get blocked properly and he got hit in the pocket where he’s getting ready to throw,” Shurmur said. “There was another one where he was actually in rhythm to make the throw and he got tomahawked from behind. That goes down as a sack fumble. As I look through them, there are a handful of times in there when there are other things happening around him that need to be better. A couple games ago, he’s scrambling, gets the first down and then fumbles at the end of the run. He can’t do that.

“To answer your question, there isn’t a common denominator. It’s not something that can’t be corrected. But much like when you get turnovers on defense, the same thing can be said when you give up the ball on offense. It’s certainly the ultimate responsibility of whoever’s touching the ball to make sure he does the right thing with it. But everyone around him has to do the right things as well.”

One of the basic corrections Jones can make is ensuring he keeps two hands on the ball whenever possible.

“I think that’s part of it, and just getting the ball out on time and not holding it,” Jones said. “I think it is pretty fundamental in that holding the ball with two hands is going to be more secure than not. So, making sure I’m doing that and getting the ball out on time.”

Shurmur isn’t the only one working with Jones on the fumbling issue. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula counsels him daily. Eli Manning, who holds the Giants’ career record with 123 career fumbles, and the team’s other veteran quarterback, Alex Tanney, have also helped.

“We’ve talked about it and those guys say the same thing,” Jones said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily a complex problem to fix. I think it is as simple as keeping two hands on the ball and getting it out on time. So, I’ve talked to all those guys, Coach Shula, Coach Shurmur. I think I definitely need to work on that.”

*The only Giants players who did not participate in today’s practice were the team’s top two tight ends. Evan Engram has a foot injury and Rhett Ellison is in the concussion protocol. The healthy tight ends are rookie Kaden Smith and Scott Simonson, who was re-signed just prior to the bye and hasn’t played in a game this season. In 2018, Simonson played in all 16 games with four starts and caught nine passes for 86 yards.

“Scott’s a very steady performer,” Shurmur said. “He did a lot of good things for us a year ago. With our injuries at the tight end position with Rhett and Evan, obviously, he was a guy that was on our short list. He was healthy, he came back in, looked good running around. Most likely, he’s going to get an opportunity to play this week.”

*Left tackle Nate Solder is in the protocol and did not participate in contact drills. Center Jon Halapio (hamstring) and right tackle Mike Remmers (back), both of whom did not play vs. the Jets on Nov. 10, practiced fully. So did wide receiver Sterling Shepard and cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who are also recovering from concussions. They have not yet been cleared to play in Sunday’s game.

“You’re in the protocol until you’re not,” Shurmur said. “A lot of the times, what happens is they get cleared at the end of the week, with the anticipation that they will be cleared. I hope that’s clear.”

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Giants’ Leonard Williams: ‘I think it’s important that we get a win as quickly as possible’

The Giants today returned to work after their bye with the same goal they had when they departed – find a way to win a game and end their season on a successful run.

“I think it’s important that we get a win as quickly as possible,” defensive tackle Leonard Williams said. “As important as it is to get a win as quickly as possible, I think it’s important to stack a win as well, like getting two wins back-to-back would be really important and it would be good for the team’s morale and going forward for the rest of the season.”

They can take a first positive step on Sunday, when they face the Bears in Chicago. The Giants haven’t won since beating Washington on Sept. 29 and will carry a six-game losing streak into Soldier Field.

At 2-8, is it best for the Giants to treat the post-bye portion of their schedule as a new season?

“I’ve never been in this situation, so I don’t really know how to answer your question,” said 10-year veteran wide receiver Golden Tate. “But I can just imagine that at the end of the day we all have a job to do. No matter what the circumstances are, we’re supposed to show up to work and be professionals in what we do, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way beside giving it my all and just go 1-0 each week. Besides that, although the record isn’t what we want, there are still jobs that are on the line. I’m going to try to set myself up for next year and the year after that. Just continue to show up to work with a positive attitude. I’m excited to play football and see what happens.”

When a team struggles as the Giants have, the bye provides little respite for some. The players can’t or don’t completely shut off football, because they remain focused on finding a way to win.

“Even when I was back home, I was still studying,” said linebacker Markus Golden, who leads the team with 6.5 sacks. “I was on the plane, I couldn’t even sleep because I was watching film the whole way. When a team isn’t doing too good and you go on the bye week, it’s kind of like, ‘Ah, I want to get back real quick so we can try to fix it.’ But at the same time, you have to have that space and get away a little bit, get with your family. Then come back and be able to rejuvenate and get out there and finish the season strong.”

Although the bye might seem like a sensible time to make extensive personnel or strategic adjustments, coach Pat Shurmur dismissed the feasibility of that notion.

“Let’s think about it for a minute,” Shurmur said. “What does a bye week entail? You come back from your previous game, you clean that up, you have a couple days of practice and then the league mandates that they’re off for four or five days. Then you get ready for your next opponent. The important thing is to go back and look at the things and try to clean up the things that you’re not doing well and keep building on the things that you’re good at. I guess my point is there’s not as much time as everybody thinks to make these wholesale changes that sometimes people think may happen.”

Shurmur was asked for specific areas in which he would like to see the Giants improve.

“Along the way, you’re playing good football and all of a sudden, you give up a third down,” he said. “Or you’re playing good football and you give up a big play. Or all of a sudden, you’re moving the ball and somebody misses a block and you have a sack fumble. Those are the kinds of things you have to clean up. That’s just doing the same, being consistently good throughout. I think those are the things that when you look back on it, you say, ‘Okay, this is the handful of things that created a bad situation for us.’ Then you do what you can to eliminate those.”

That process continued today and the Giants are hopeful it will produce a winning result on Sunday.

*Tight end Evan Engram, who was inactive last week against the Jets with a foot injury, no longer wears a walking boot and believes he has a chance to play against the Bears.

“It’s definitely possible, I feel good,” Engram said. “We’ll see where we’re at (in the) middle to the end of this week. I’m staying locked in in meetings, game plans and stuff like that, that’s very important as well. I think as long as I stay prepared mentally and continue to do what I do with my foot, I could be ready to go.

“I’m feeling really good, progress is going along really well. The trainers are doing a really good job, it’s definitely on the upward trend of getting back soon.”

*Two offensive linemen who did not play vs. the Jets – center Jon Halapio (hamstring) and right tackle Mike Remmers (back) — returned to practice today. Left tackle Nate Solder, who left the Jets game with a concussion, was excused for personal reasons.

*Wide receiver Sterling Shepard practiced fully and cornerback Janoris Jenkins wore a no-contact yellow vest. Both players are in the NFL concussion protocol.

“They’re still going through it, so we’ll see what the week brings,” Shurmur said. “But we’re encouraged that they’ll make it through.”

*Tight end Rhett Ellison, who is also in the protocol, did individual drills.

*Rookie tackle George Asafo-Adjei, who suffered a concussion in training camp and has been on injured reserve all season, returned to the team.

“It’s his first day back,” Shurmur said. “He’s making good progress, but we’ll just have to see. Put him through the paces here and see how he does.”

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Shurmur on Jones: ‘He’s thrown 15 touchdowns, he’ll look at the eight interceptions, and look at the fumbles’

Nick Gates played every snap at right tackle in the first start and extensive action of his career. Eric Smith, who had never before played a regular-season down, participated in 75% of them at the crucial left tackle position after Nate Solder suffered a concussion. When Janoris Jenkins was later concussed, the top three cornerbacks were rookies DeAndre Baker and Corey Ballentine and Sam Beal, who played his first professional game, preseason or regular season.

Oh, and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones played another game that displayed his exhilarating possibilities while also fumbling three more times, including one that was returned by the opposition for a touchdown.

The promise and potential of youth is always exciting, but the growing pains associated with it, not so much. The Giants were reminded of that again yesterday in their 34-27 loss to the Jets, their sixth consecutive defeat.

“The decision to go with them, in most cases, there is no decision,” coach Pat Shurmur said today. “They are the best players at the position. The challenge is for anybody that does anything for the very first time. They are talented players, but anybody that does anything for the very first time, there is a lot to be learned. There’s, I guess, pains that come with growing and we’ve just got to be very consistent, we’ve got to raise them right, we’ve got to coach them hard, and we’ve got to do like you do with any player. But they have the ability to get experience, and we all know there is no substitute for experience.”

The Giants, who next play in Chicago on Nov. 24, saw both sides of the young player coin yesterday.

Jones threw for 308 yards – his third 300-yard game since taking over as the starter in Week 3 – and for the second time in three weeks, threw four touchdown passes without an interception. Fellow 2019 draft choice Darius Slayton – playing in his eighth game – caught two of the scores, part of his career-best 10-catch, 121-yard game.

But Jones was victimized on one of the game’s biggest plays, when he was sacked for a nine-yard loss by safety Jamal Adams, who ripped the ball from his hands and raced 25 yards for a touchdown that extended the Jets’ lead to 21-13 early in the third quarter.

The Giants will practice tomorrow and Wednesday before beginning their bye-week break. Shurmur was asked what the to-do list will be for Jones, who has lost nine of his 13 fumbles.

“He has already been here, so first and foremost, we debriefed the game,” Shurmur said. “We are going to practice for two days and he’s going to go through the same process we as coaches do. I think of quarterbacks in that way. He’ll go through all the situational football, he’ll look at the things he’s done well. He’s thrown 15 touchdowns, he’ll look at the eight interceptions, and look at the fumbles. You basically go through everything that you’ve done, and you try to sit back, take a breath, and try to do the things you need to do to correct them. Which we’ve been working on all along, you are just able to sit back and do it in total.”

Shurmur praised Gates, who stepped in for the injured Mike Remmers (back).

“I thought he played well,” Shurmur said. “Listen, he’s a tough, competitive guy. We were looking forward to seeing him play because we feel like he has a chance to be a good player. He battled. One thing about Nick Gates, he’s tough, he’s competitive and he tries to do things the right way. He had a lot of really good plays out there.”

Defensively, the Giants started three rookies in tackle Dexter Lawrence and cornerbacks DeAndre Baker and Corey Ballentine. They combined for five tackles. Young linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines totaled six stops. Beal was called on later in the game. “(He) actually did a pretty good job the first time back, competing on special teams a little bit,” Shurmur said.

But Baker was flagged for a costly pass interference penalty to open the fourth quarter, setting up Le’Veon Bell’s go-ahead one-yard touchdown run on the next snap. Shurmur was asked if he is considering “wholesale” changes in the secondary.

“We’re constantly working all the players,” he said. “When Beal was in there, our starting three corners were a guy that didn’t play last year and two rookies. Certainly, Julian Love gets work at safety for us. We’ll just see as we move forward.

“When you look at mistakes, sometimes there are physical breakdowns, and that happens. A guy just gets beat. In any situation, you’re always working on the fundamentals. It’s something you work on all the time. There is a lot of really good fundamental play, and then there are times when you see somebody do something right three or four or five times, then the next time it doesn’t come out the right way.  That’s what you have to just keep working on.”

Then, presumably, the young players will continue to grow and improve.

“We’ve just got to take advantage of this time we have here, go back and look at some of the things that we’ve done well, because there were a lot of things we did well,” Shurmur said. “But, we certainly made mistakes in that game that cost you and we’ve got to find a way to eliminate those. We’ve got to keep getting some of these guys that are out there playing for the first time to be more consistent throughout the game. So, that’s where we’re at. Our focus is obviously to improve and do what we can to win our next game following this bye week.”

*Shurmur said Saquon Barkley is “feeling much better. He’s fine. … I saw him today and he said he was feeling a lot better.” Barkley gained just one yard on 13 carries yesterday. He missed three games earlier this season with a sprained ankle, but he refused to blame his output against the Jets on any injury.

*Tight end Rhett Ellison was placed in the concussion protocol after the game.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Giants’ Shurmur: ‘We put the guys on the field that give us the best chance to win, and they’ve got to play well’

The Giants this week will participate in a rivalry game vastly different from the one they just played, but the objective remains the same: improving their performance.

Last night, a one-point game entering the fourth quarter morphed into a 37-18 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants’ fifth consecutive defeat left them at 2-7, including 1-2 against NFC East foes. Dallas swept the season series for the third year in a row.

The Giants have one more game prior to their bye. On Sunday, they will be the visitors in MetLife Stadium when they take on the 1-7 Jets. Although this is a regular-season rivalry that is contested quadrennially, emotions will be high on the field, where two struggling teams will be fighting for a victory, and in the stands, where both sides will be well-represented.

“I haven’t played in this (rivalry) obviously, but I’m well aware that there are a lot of Giants fans and Jets fans that it’s going to be a very competitive weekend from that standpoint,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said on a conference call today. “I’m aware of all that, but we have to do the things to beat the Jets. We have to play better than we did last night. That game was within one score for a great deal of the time, and we were ahead at the beginning of it (taking a 12-3 lead in the second quarter). It got away from us. So, we need to do the things that we have to do to win the game and not let it get away from us. That really doesn’t matter who you’re playing. But I’m certainly aware of the fact that for this region, and for New York and New Jersey and the fans and everybody involved, this is going to be a big deal.”

The Giants can target several areas for improvement during their short work week. Saquon Barkley ran for only 28 yards and averaged 2.0 yards a carry. Daniel Jones threw an interception and lost two fumbles, giveaways that led to 13 Dallas points. Jones was sacked five times and absorbed numerous other hits. The offense scored just one touchdown on five trips inside the Cowboys’ 20-yard line, forcing Aldrick Rosas to kick four field goals of less than 30 yards. The Giants had 16 opportunities to convert on third down and succeeded just five times.

“We’ve got to bounce back,” said wide receiver Golden Tate, whose spectacular one-handed catch set up the Giants’ only touchdown, a one-yard pass from Jones to Cody Latimer. “We’ve got to understand the situational football. We have to be much, much, much better being efficient on third down, penalties. You know when we get in the red zone, we have to get points, especially against an offense like (Dallas’). They have some big-time players.”

The Giants’ defense surrendered 139 rushing yards to Ezekiel Elliott, who averaged 6.0 yards a carry. Dak Prescott threw an interception on the game’s first play, but thereafter completed 22 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The Giants committed eight penalties for 71 yards. Dallas converted just four of 11 third-down opportunities, but three of them were in the decisive fourth quarter, including a backbreaking 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Copper on third-and-12 that pushed its lead to 12 points with 7:56 remaining.

“You definitely can’t let them in the end zone in that situation with the time that was left,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “You have to get off the field and we had ample opportunities to get off the field.

“As I say every week, you just have to clean up on the little things, you have to execute as a whole team, play complementary football at the end of the day.”

Shurmur hinted there will be no lineup changes. If the Giants are going to reverse course, it will be with the lineup they’ve been fielding.

“I think we play the best players,” Shurmur said. “It just so happens that on our roster, some of our best players are young players, and that’s the reality of it. We put the guys on the field that give us the best chance to win, and they’ve got to play well. If for some reason they’re making mistakes, then we’ve got to clean that up. And the same can be said for us as coaches, we’ve got to clean up the things that keep us from winning games.”

Sunday would be a good time to start.

*There will be at least one change on the roster. The Giants today activated cornerback Sam Beal off injured reserve and he will make his NFL debut Sunday against the Jets. Beal, a third-round selection in the 2018 supplemental draft, missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery and was sidelined this year with a hamstring injury.

To create room for Beal, the Giants waived second-year safety Sean Chandler.

The former Temple star played in all 25 games after making the roster last season as a rookie free agent. But he has played just 26 snaps on defense this season, none in the last two games. He has one special teams tackle.

The Giants also terminated punter Sean Smith from the practice squad.

*After missing two games while in the NFL concussion protocol, rookie Corey Ballentine returned to take over as the slot corner for second-year pro Grant Haley. Ballentine had four tackles (three solo) and knocked away a pass.

“Corey was back healthy, we felt like we wanted to change it up and give him an opportunity,” Shurmur said. “He had worked both outside and inside, he had been dealing with some injuries certainly. Obviously, you all weren’t aware of the week of preparation, but I thought he went out there and battled. He did some good things last night and we just wanted to give him an opportunity. We like where he’s come, and we felt like he did some good things last night.”

*Shurmur said tight end Evan Engram “has a little bit of a sore foot. I don’t have any details on that, we’ll just have to see as the week goes on and how he’ll do.”

*Shurmur is uncertain about the immediate future of wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who returned to the concussion protocol on Sunday after telling the team’s medical staff he didn’t feel well Saturday night. Shepard has missed the last four games, and Saturday he said he expected to play against Dallas.

“This is a serious injury, and in my mind, it requires a serious response,” Shurmur said. “We want to make sure he’s well before he goes back out there.

“I think we have to use good judgement and we need to be very deliberate about guys coming back from injuries such as this. There are signs and there are things, as they go through coming back from concussions, they certainly go through the protocol, but there’s also the activity and how they respond to it and all of that. At some point, we just have to use our gut. … I think as a coach, because there is a certain amount of activity that has to take place, this time of year it’s obviously practice, you watch him. That’s why you watch them practice, you see how they respond to it after and how they handle it the next day. As he went through that process, he wasn’t feeling well, so we made a decision. I just think we have to be smart and be very observant in these situations and try to make good decisions. Player safety is certainly on the front burner for us.”

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Shurmur on Jones: ‘He’s tough, he’s resilient, and I think he has a bright future’

Pat Shurmur is walking a tightrope on which many NFL head coaches have previously tried to keep their balance.

Like anyone in his position, Shurmur’s primary objective is to win football games. His concurrent and sometimes contradictory challenge is to win them while developing a rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones. And right now neither endeavor is as seamless as Shurmur would prefer.

The Giants yesterday fell to 2-5 with their third consecutive loss, 27-21 to the Arizona Cardinals in soggy MetLife Stadium. Jones passed for 223 yards, including a perfectly-thrown 28-yard touchdown to tight end Rhett Ellison. But he also threw an interception and lost two fumbles, turnovers that led to 17 Arizona points. Jones had a third fumble that was recovered by tackle Nate Solder.

In five games since taking over as the starter, Jones has thrown six touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He has also lost five fumbles for 11 total giveaways, or more than two a game.

Both Shurmur and Jones believes those miscues will decrease as the rookie gains more experience. Until then, Shurmur will emphasize the importance of securing the ball.

“We have to continue to do that,” Shurmur said. “Certainly, ball security is primary, especially for the quarterback. He got it swatted out of his hand on a screen. He was trying to hold off, Saquon (Barkley) popped a little bit late. But generally speaking, yeah, he has to secure the ball better.”

Asked how he can avoid some of the turnovers, Jones said, “I think just making sure I have two hands on the ball in the pocket is a big thing, just not letting myself get lazy with that at all, just making sure I’m consistent with that. And when I’m running, keeping the ball secured, I think all those little things that you’ve heard for a long time that are just kind of fundamental to anyone holding the ball I think are things that I need to do better.”

Another emphasis is for Jones to release the ball quicker. He was sacked eight times yesterday and could have avoided some of them by simply releasing the ball a tick or two earlier.

“That’s always something that they have to do,” Shurmur said. “They have to get the ball off on time, and most of the time he does. But those couple of plays he doesn’t, we have to get those fixed.”

Jones conceded he might have to speed up the play timer all quarterbacks have in their heads.

“I think that’s important to always have that in mind, and I think I need to do a better job in a lot of cases of just sensing when that timer is going off or when maybe I do have an extra half-second,” he said. “I think kind of just developing that, continuing to learn in those situations, and I’ll be using that to help me progress and help me in the next situation. So, yeah, I think I need to do a better job with it.”

Shurmur was asked if he would consider a quarterback change if neither the turnover situation nor Jones’ performance improved. That would presumably mean going back to Eli Manning, who, by the way, also threw seven interceptions – against three touchdowns passes – but lost only one lost fumble in his first five career starts 15 years ago.

“No,” Shurmur said. “I think Daniel is going to learn from everything that’s going on. Just like all the other rookies and their playing, they’re going to learn from the things that happen. But you have to learn and you have to win games, and I’m well aware of that. I’m totally well aware of that.”

Though the turnovers tend to obscure the fact, Jones is making strides.

“I think I’ve made progress in some senses,” he said. “In some plays, in certain situations, I’ve made progress, and in others, I haven’t. So, that’s the challenge, to keep making progress and to make progress throughout the game, throughout the situation, whatever it is, to continue to improve on everything.”

“I think he made a lot of nice throws in the game yesterday,” Shurmur said. “Obviously, that was a tight throw to Rhett in the end zone for a touchdown. He’s aggressive. He made another one down the sideline to Evan (Engram) that would have put us in scoring position (but the ball was dropped). He made some other really good throws. He’s tough, he’s resilient, and I think he has a bright future. That’s what I like about him.”

Jones’ youth and inexperience are not atypical of these Giants, who have 23 players on their 53-man roster who are rookies or second-year players.

“I think we’ve all made that point, that we’re very young,” Shurmur said. “There are a lot of rookies out there. We have to win games, and we have to find a way to do it this week (at Detroit).”

*Shurmur was asked to review his decisions late in the fourth quarter yesterday, most notably eschewing a punt at the Giants’ 33-yard line with 2:35 remaining and going for it on fourth-and-15 with the Giants trailing by three points. Jones was sacked for a 13-yard loss by blitzing cornerback Patrick Peterson, who forced a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Hasson Reddick. Zane Gonzalez kicked a 35-yard field goal that extended Arizona’s lead to 27-21.

Barkley had gained just three yards on a third-down draw. Shurmur, who had decided before that play to try to get the first, was asked if anything could have altered his decision.

“Anything could change anything as you go along,” he said. “The flipside of it is if you punt the ball away, you may never see it again. That’s the flipside. The reality of it was we didn’t make it, so I’m here standing here with the scrutiny of not making it. I get that. But the reality of that was we then stopped them. We had two timeouts and the two-minute warning. We did stop them and make them kick a field goal, and we still had another opportunity to go in there and win the game. I get that. We all live with the decisions we make. The ones that we make that don’t work, we have to live with it and you try to learn from it.”

*Shurmur did have one bit of good news: “There were not really any injuries to speak of from yesterday.”

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Jones on his four starts: ‘I’ve been inconsistent overall’

One month ago tomorrow, Pat Shurmur shook up the Giants’ world when he announced that rookie Daniel Jones was replacing 16-year veteran and franchise icon Eli Manning as the starting quarterback.

Jones has since started four games – a quarter of an NFL season – winning the first two and losing the most recent two, including a 35-14 defeat at New England last Thursday. The 2-4 Giants are preparing to host the 2-3-1 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but today marked a natural point to reflect on the transition at the game’s most important position.

“I talked to him last week, I said it’s kind of an interesting month he had,” Shurmur said. “He went through a lot in the first month, learned a lot and did a lot of really good things. We’re looking forward to him continuing to improve in all facets of playing quarterback.”

On Sept. 22, Jones had the best starting debut of any quarterback in Giants history. He led the team from an 18-point halftime deficit to a 32-31 victory at Tampa Bay while completing 23 of 36 passes for 336 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 112.7. Jones did lose two fumbles. But he also led the team with 28 rushing yards on four carries, including two seven-yard touchdowns, the last which scored the deciding points on fourth down with 1:16 remaining in the game. Two days later, he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

The following week, Jones threw for another touchdown, and his first two interceptions, in a 24-3 trouncing of Washington. But losses to Minnesota and the Patriots have evened Jones’ record at 2-2. And he has thrown more picks (six) than touchdown passes (five).

“I think it’s been, looking back on the month, kind of up and down,” Jones said. “I’ve been inconsistent overall. I’ve been good and been bad. I think there are certainly a lot of things to learn. When you look at the scheme or some of the decisions, some of my habits or bad habits, I think there are a lot of things to learn. So, I’ll kind of separate those problems, (and) those individual issues and try to improve. But also, just getting more comfortable and getting more accustomed to what we are doing. I think I’ll continue to learn and grow, but I’ve certainly had the opportunity to learn a lot this month.”

Shurmur was asked today about Jones learning to find a balance between throwing the ball away and keeping it in an effort to make a play. It’s one of the many facets of quarterback play the 22-year-old is continuing to work on.

“You have to be a good decision-maker early, in the middle and late in downs.” Shurmur said. “Young players that are hyper competitive like he is, they try to make a play all the way throughout. But as you go through this as a quarterback, there are times when it’s important you use your legs and unfortunately throw the ball away. They get used to that as they go. Just like he’s getting used to every single thing.”

Jones has yet to play without a full complement of offensive weapons. That will likely happen again on Sunday, as wide receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Wayne Gallman remain in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

In his first two starts, Jones was without wide receiver Golden Tate, who was serving an NFL suspension. Saquon Barkley sprained his ankle in the first half against the Buccaneers and has not played since. He was joined on the inactive list for the New England game by Shepard, Gallman and tight end Evan Engram (knee).

But the Giants’ most valuable ball-handlers are working their way back. Tate played in the last two games, and against the Patriots caught six passes for 102 yards, including a 64-yarder for the team’s only touchdown.

Both Barkley and Engram were full participants in practice today, seemingly making it more likely they will play against Arizona.

But when asked if it is “reasonable to assume” they will play on Sunday, Shurmur said, “We’ll just see what the week holds. I’m sure everyone has questions with regard to it, but they practiced today and they did well. So we’ll just see.”

Jones was similarly cautious when asked how the offense changes with Barkley in the backfield.

“I think we’re going to take it day by day and see how he feels,” Jones said. “I know he’s been working hard, so we’ll see. Hopefully, we’ll have him out there.”

Engram reiterated today what he said Monday, that he feels good and will play.

“It’s going to be good getting back out there,” Engram said. “I was pretty down about missing last Thursday and I’m definitely really hungry. Getting back out there is going to be fun. I’m going to be a kid in the candy shop again and just go out there and have fun, make some plays.”

Barkley is scheduled to speak to the media tomorrow.

Tate is looking forward to lining up with Barkley. He has yet to play in a game with the splendid running back, including the preseason (when Barkley didn’t play a down).

“I’m excited to be on the field with him and block for him and whatever is needed to help him score and help us win,” Tate said. “He’s a huge part of this offense, we’re excited about it. We have to do our jobs the best we can to spring each other.”

If Barkley, Engram and Tate all play, it will give the Giants a good chunk of the arsenal they envisioned having, and perhaps help makes Jones’ second month more successful than the first.

“Just more options, we can spray the ball everywhere, which makes it tough to cover us,” Tate said. “The more options we have the better off we are, the better team we are. I know we are all excited.”

*Rookie cornerback Corey Ballentine did not practice after becoming the fourth Giants player to enter the NFL concussion protocol.

The other three – Shepard, Gallman and defensive tackle Olsen Pierre – were on the field with non-contact restrictions and were officially limited.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen