Roll call for the Giants nowadays is a depressing recitation — all that offensive skill-position talent unavailable, making football life far more difficult for quarterback Daniel Jones on Sunday against the Panthers at MetLife Stadium.
Jones will not have Saquon Barkey to hand the ball to. He will not be able to scan the field for Kenny Golladay or Kadarius Toney to throw to. He will not be able to stand tall in the pocket knowing his blind side will be protected by Andrew Thomas. As relevant as that is, no one cares about these absences.
These truths can co-exist: The Giants will be hard-pressed to score many points without their top playmakers, yet Jones will not get the benefit of the doubt if that indeed happens.
Jones is in his third NFL season and, barring a total meltdown down the stretch, he figures to be the Giants’ quarterback in 2022. Joe Judge, the second-year head coach, is committed to Jones, so much so that he kept him on the field for all 60 minutes of last week’s one-sided rout by the Rams. The more snaps for Jones, the better, Judge reasoned, no matter if the cause already was lost.
Unless there is a sea change within the entire Giants world, Judge and Jones are linked, for better or worse. The arrow was pointing up for Jones after four games, though the Giants lost three of those, but he was knocked out with a concussion against the Cowboys and then struggled through a three-interception, one-fumble afternoon in last week’s brutal 38-11 loss to the Rams.
Jones is doing what he can to remain positive. He tried to keep it light on Wednesday in his session with the media. Though he was unable to keep his balance after a rushing attempt near the Cowboys’ goal line went bad, Jones did not experience any debilitating concussion symptoms. He was able to keep his concentration and read on the flight home. His book of choice? “Stillness Is the Key’’ by Ryan Holiday — author, media strategist and entrepreneur.
Here’s a one-sentence synopsis of the book, from FourMinuteBooks.com: “ ‘Stillness Is the Key’ gives you the tools to harness the power of slowing down your body and mind for less distractions, better self-control and above all, a happier and more peaceful life.”
There is nothing especially happy or peaceful about Jones’ football life. A criticism of Jones’ game is that he too often speeds up when he should slow down. It is almost as if you can sense Jones is processing all the mayhem around him, rather than reacting to it in a more natural, instinctive way.
“Yeah, I think that just comes with making reads and playing the position,’’ Jones said. “I think it’s understanding when to get the ball out of your hands, trusting the read and going through it and being true to that. That’s my job, how you play quarterback, so definitely something I’ve got to continue to do.’’
His job has devolved into too much crisis management, operating behind an offensive line that is never the same, from game to game. This week’s iteration will be without Thomas, easily the best of the bunch, and there is every reason to believe Jones will be forced to run and duck for cover when plays are blown up before there is any chance for success.
“I think that’s a big part of the position and [offensive coordinator Jason] Garrett talks about it a lot,’’ Jones said. “We’d hope for it to be perfect every time, but the reality in pro football and for everyone across the league is, it doesn’t work out perfect, so it’s about managing situations and avoiding the bad plays.’’
There were two very bad plays last week, as two of the three interceptions were the kind of careless, unforced mistakes that for the most part Jones has not made this season. “Uncharacteristic’’ was the take from Garrett.
“They were fairly simple, basic plays and reads and maybe he got something into his head, he saw something that wasn’t there,’’ Garrett said, “instead of just going through what the progression is and making the right throw.’’
Jones needs to be sharper this week. No matter who is out there with him, and who is not.
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