Daniel Jones did what quarterbacks are supposed to do in these grim situations.
He called his third-quarter interception that was returned for a 97-yard touchdown and essentially sunk the Giants’ chances of a comeback in Monday night’s 24-3 loss to Seattle a “terrible decision” and an “awful mistake.” He heaped much of the blame for the inept offensive performance on himself, calling his play “unacceptable.”
He even took the blame for the 10 sacks he absorbed throughout the night, saying he has to do a better job of getting rid of the ball and making quicker decisions, as if the milliseconds of breathing room he was given would be long enough for even the latest, fastest artificial intelligence clouds to process information.
“I let the team down,” he said.
A more accurate take might be that it was the other way around.
Having one functioning offensive player is never a good situation for an NFL team. When even that player glitches out, as most occasionally do, what you are left with is the ugliness that has become the 2023 Giants.
It’s a team that has failed to score a touchdown in its two home games, managing only a 53-yard field goal on Monday to finally change the number under their name on the MetLife Stadium scoreboard. A team that finds itself buried under a 1-3 record with two daunting road games against Miami and Buffalo threatening to scuttle their season.
A team that essentially is running a middle school-level offense in which they snap the ball to their best athlete and hope he can do something — anything — with it in his hands.
The nuttiest part is that for a few moments, it seemed as if it actually had a chance to work.
Trailing 14-3 late in the third quarter, Jones willed the team down the field. He converted a third down with an 8-yard designed run and scrambled for 10 yards on fourth-and-1 to bring them to the 6,
Then, on second-and-goal from the 5, he crumbled with the defining error of the night.
He thought he saw a soft spot in the zone coverage and tried to hit Parris Campbell with a quick pass to the left that was picked off and returned 97 yards for a touchdown. Jones, who made an attempt to chase down Devon Witherspoon on the play, could only walk meekly to the bench with Brian Daboll trying to show him where things had gone wrong on one of the tablets before tossing it aside.
No, this isn’t what the Giants envisioned when they gave Jones a four-year, $160 million contract in the offseason. But more significantly, this isn’t what Jones envisioned when he signed that life-changing deal either — getting bulldozed snap after snap while playing 1-on-11 and trying to stay competitive.
If he has any luck at all, he’ll have spent some of his NFL fortune on the winning Powerball ticket worth a billion bucks and be able to walk away from this mess with a clean conscience.
But that wouldn’t be Daniel Jones. Instead, he’ll try to get better.
“I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to do that,” he said. “I didn’t play well enough . . . I’ve got to fix it and work hard to get it right, and I’m going to do that.”
There was, at least, some recognition that this is not all on him.
“I think we all need to play better together for sure,” he said. “That’s what we’re focused on as a group and I’m a big part of that, so I’m going to make sure I do that.”
The Giants have had one good half of play this season, their comeback win in Arizona, when Jones was able to take the game over and haul this heap of a roster to their only victory of the season.
That was impressive.
It cannot be a game plan.
Jones isn’t innocent enough to be completely absolved. He did cough up his 24th career lost fumble in the first half, which led to Seattle’s opening touchdown. He finished 27-for-34 for 203 yards and two interceptions. He also ran for 66 yards on 10 carries.
“We had a tough game, all of us,” Daboll said. “We have to do a better job of helping him.”
Jones has been placed in an unwinnable, unsustainable, unfair position of quarterbacking a team that can’t figure out what it is doing around him. And until they do begin to do a better job of helping him, as Daboll noted, nothing is going to change.