Giants’ Daniel Jones shows toughness in loss to Cowboys

Sacrificial tributes in “The Hunger Games” spend less time running for survival than Daniel Jones did against the Cowboys Monday night.

As impressive as Patrick Mahomes’ no-look passes or Lamar Jackson’s exciting moves, Jones kept his team competitive under 24 pressure siege — the most against a Giants quarterback since at least 2009, according to ESPN. Ten of those pressures came from a four-man rush (not a blitz), according to NextGenStats.

With the exception of Saquon Barkley’s 36-yard touchdown run, Jones was a one-man band, clambering nine times for 79 yards and getting off 12 hits (five sacks).

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) walks off the field after the Giants lost to the Cowboys, 23-16, on Monday, September 26, 2022, in East Rutherford, NJ
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) walks off the field after the Giants lost to the Cowboys.

The failure of the offensive line to protect Jones and the receivers’ failure to gain separation on routes was a big part of the quarterback’s first three sales-ridden seasons. He’s strong enough to take a beating, but is he good enough to consistently make winning moves?

All those obscuring factors had to be minimized this season so the Giants could finally get a clear picture of whether Jones is worthy of a big second contract. Monday was a reminder that the season could end without clarity.

“You never want” [breakdowns] happen, but that’s also a good evaluation to get, especially for a quarterback,” said head coach Brian Daboll. “If you’re under pressure or things aren’t always perfect, how can you create ad lib and plays if it’s not exactly as it is in the game diagram? I thought he did that well.”

The Giants haven’t won enough (14-26 with Jones as the starter) or scored enough (the fewest points in the NFL since the start of the 2020 season). But that has to be measured by how any other quarterback would fare with the Giants’ constraints, piling the odds on Jones.

“He was under some coercion,” Daboll said in the understatement of the year. “He escaped. He made some loose plays. He did some things with his feet. He made some good throws. I thought he was very good on the sidelines. He’s improved every game. He’s really improved every practice and he was a good leader out there. And he did as hard as he could and gave us a chance.”

The Giants had only 10 players on the field—five linemen, two inside linebackers, two safeties, and an edge rusher—when Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a game-binding 1-yard touchdown. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale dropped out of a base pack with two cornerbacks on the previous game.

“Wink called for a staff group and there was one player who didn’t go in,” Daboll said. “So we have to listen carefully to the playcaller’s instructions and be ready to go.”

Guards Ben Bredeson and rookie Josh Ezeudu did not rotate, as they did in the first two games. Ezeudu, whose run-blocking is superior to his pass-blocking, didn’t play on offense. But the rotation continued at cornerback, where rookie Cor’Dale Flott started on the outside, but played fewer snaps (19) than the practice squad Fabian Moreau (39).

RB Antonio Williams – who has played 33 special teams snaps – was waived and LB Charles Wiley was dropped from the practice squad. If Williams approves waivers, he may be reassigned to Wiley’s spot and eligible for three matchday raises to the active roster.

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