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A short break for things to slow down for Giants' Daniel Jones

New England Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley, right, hits

New England Patriots linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley, right, hits Giants quarterback Daniel Jones after he released a pass in the second half on Oct. 10, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. Credit: AP/Elise Amendola

It’s been 3 1⁄2 whirlwind weeks since Daniel Jones was named the Giants’ starting quarterback. For a few days now, and for the first time in that role, he’ll be able to stop the world from spinning.

Or at least slow his part of it down a bit.

After Thursday’s 35-14 loss to the Patriots, the Giants don’t play again until Oct. 20. “We’ll get a little bit of a break mentally and physically,” Jones said.

It is an opportunity to start preparing for the Cardinals, but it also gives Jones and the Giants a chance to reflect a bit on his first four starts.

He is 2-2. He has totaled seven touchdowns (five passing, two rushing) and committed eight turnovers (six interceptions, two fumbles). He has excited the franchise and its fans, but he also has made a number of mistakes.

While his numbers may be diminishing from that ridiculously successful debut in Tampa, including his three-interception game on Thursday night, Pat Shurmur said he is making good progress in the most important measurement for him.

“This has been a great month for him in terms of learning how to play in this league,” Shurmur said on Friday. “Each week we talked about how the defense we’re playing is better than the one before. Certainly the last two defenses [New England’s and Minnesota’s] were top five in the league . . . He learned a great deal from this last month.”

That’s not to say his interceptions are excusable because he is a rookie. “Regardless of whether you are in your first year in the league or you have been doing it for a very long time, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong,” Shurmur said.

Jones concurred.  “The fact that I’m young or the fact that I haven’t played much, it isn’t an excuse,” he said. “I don’t think that helps. I’m not going to use that to help myself feel better.”

He has to eliminate the turnovers. He has to make better reads and better throws. Put simply, he has to do more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff . . . and do so without curbing his aggressiveness to the point of reducing his effectiveness.

It’s unlikely that Jones will face back-to-back defenses as ferocious and overwhelming as the two he just faced at any point again this season. He might never face that type of defense in consecutive games for the rest of his career. The Giants lost both of those contests by wide margins.  But the long game, the one not necessarily measured by victories or touchdowns or interceptions in 2019 but by the success of Jones and the Giants in the years to come, still seems very much winnable.   

“It’s fair to say that some of the things that Daniel is going through, he’s going through for the first time,” Shurmur said. "When he goes through it a second time, he should be that much more prepared for it.''

“There are still really bad mistakes, things I can’t afford to do,” Jones said. “The challenge is I have to be able to learn from those and to prevent them from happening again.”

Deal Saquon in vs. Cards?

The Giants waived running back Austin Walter and re-signed third-string quarterback Alex Tanney less than 24 hours after announcing the opposite transaction on Thursday. They had to promote Walter from the practice squad because they were short on healthy running backs. While Walter likely will return to the practice squad and can be brought back to the active roster at any point, waiving him is perhaps the surest sign yet that the Giants expect Saquon Barkley to play Week 7.

Shurmur said Barkley worked out on the field on Friday. He has been limited in practices since last Friday with a high ankle sprain suffered on Sept. 22. “He’s making good progress,” Shurmur said. “We’ll just have to see what the week brings.”

Barkley was one of three offensive starters who missed Thursday’s game, along with tight end Evan Engram (knee) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion). Backup running back Wayne Gallman also was out with a concussion. Shurmur refused to use their absence as a crutch for Thursday’s loss but said on Friday: ‘We’re certainly going to welcome anybody back who can get healthy to play against Arizona … I’m looking forward to getting everybody back. It’s a good thing when you have a lot of healthy scratches.”

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