The Giants’ to-do list for this season includes winning enough games to make things interesting and seeing once and for all what they have in Daniel Jones.
But the events of Monday night at MetLife Stadium illustrated an obvious football reality:
It is impossible to win games consistently and/or to evaluate one’s quarterback when there is little or no pass protection.
The Giants’ 23-16 loss to the Cowboys featured the worst display of offensive line play witnessed at the stadium since . . . well, since the Jets’ similarly awful performance in a 27-12 loss to the Bengals on Sunday.
But while the Jets were going with the immobile and therefore helpless Joe Flacco at quarterback, the Giants at least had Jones’ scrambling ability going for them.
The guy battled bravely all night in the face of a Dallas assault that included 12 quarterback hits and five sacks — three by DeMarcus Lawrence, who left the game early with an injury.
Jones rushed nine times for 79 yards when he was not desperately trying to get off passes. He finished 20-for-37 for 196 yards and one interception, which came when his receiver, David Sills V, slipped and fell on the Giants’ final offensive play.
“He put his body on the line,” center Jon Feliciano said of Jones. “He went out there and gave it all he had. It’s up to the rest of us to help him.
“Too many hits. The run game was there a little bit, but we can do better there as well. We have to have [No.] 8’s back. I mean, he went out there and played his [expletive] off. Everything he did, we just have to have his back.”
Not surprisingly, Jones refused to place blame on anyone other than himself despite numerous questions from reporters from a variety of angles about the impossible positions into which he was put.
“They’re a good front,” Jones said. “They’re a good defense. You’ve got to give credit to them. They played hard. But I think there are things we can all do better with that. We’ll start with me, finding space to step up, finding space to move around the pocket and make some plays. So I’ll study that.”
Is he concerned about the number of hits he is taking?
“I feel good,” he said. “It’s football. It’s part of playing the game.”
Credit to Jones for not throwing his teammates under the bus. But it is coach Brian Daboll’s job to see things clearly and act accordingly, and he was under no illusions about the pass protection being remotely in the vicinity of adequate.
Daboll said coaches tried all sorts of ideas to slow the onslaught, including having running backs and tight ends help the linemen. Nothing worked.
“The coaches, you can only call so many things,” he said.
Rookie right tackle Evan Neal had a particularly difficult day with the Dallas front four, linebacker Micah Parsons and assorted other attackers.
Daboll said his message to Neal simply would be: “Keep your head up. Let’s get ready to work next week. We all have days or plays that we wish we could have back. Go back and work on it and get better and get ready for next week.”
Said Neal, “I’ve just got to play better. There’s no other way to call it. I can get technical with you [reporters] all day long, but I’ve just got to play better.
“There’s no other way to slice it or sugarcoat it. I’ve got to play a better brand of football.”
As for Jones, whose value as a potential long-term answer at quarterback will be an ongoing subplot all season, Daboll was impressed with how he reacted.
“Nobody did well enough,” Daboll said. “We understand that. But I think he’s making progress and he fought and battled. He made some really good plays out there under some duress.”
Daboll called Jones a “tough, tough player” who is capable of taking some hits, but not like this.
“There’s no question we’ve got to do a better job of protecting him,” Daboll said.
If they do not, the present will be a failure and the future will remain a mystery.