ARLINGTON, Texas — Daniel Jones saw his first action in his first NFL game on Sunday. In answer to your question: No, there’s no debate about the Giants’ starting quarterback.
Jones, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft and Eli Manning’s heir apparent, played on the Giants’ final drive, but only because the game was out of reach and coach Pat Shurmur wanted the rookie to get his feet wet.
“I thought it was the right thing to do to get him some work,” Shurmur said after the Giants’ 35-17 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
Jones entered with 1:46 to play in the fourth quarter and the Giants trailing by 18 points. He went 3-for-4 for 17 yards and looked comfortable in his NFL debut.
But on his final play of the game, Jones fumbled the ball while fighting for first-down yardage, which resulted in a turnover.
Jones also lost two fumbles in the preseason, though he mostly looked sharp in those games.
“We don’t want to fumble a ball like he did,” Shurmur said. “You can see he’s a competitive guy. He’ll learn to run that out of bounds. But in his mind, he competes and wanted to guarantee we get the first [down].
“He’s just got to secure the ball.”
Jones said it was exciting to get on the field, but he knows the only reason he did was because of the score.
And it was much earlier than at least one interested observer had hoped. Giants president and co-owner John Mara said last month that he hopes “Eli has a great year and Daniel never sees the field.”
So much for those plans, although even Mara must have agreed with Jones getting some action, given the score.
“It was good, exciting to run out there, certainly,” Jones said. “I think just it being a regular season game has a different feel to it. I think the circumstances in the game also played a little different. Still exciting to run out there.”
Jones said he needed to be more careful with the ball on his fumble.
“I just didn’t do a good job keeping the ball tight to my body and let it go,” he said. “So gotta make sure I’m secure with the ball. I think the smart play was to run out of bounds. Definitely something to learn there.”
Jones said he didn’t find it awkward to replace Manning.
“I don’t think there was an awkwardness to it. I’m the backup quarterback, so that’s my job,” he said.
Manning had no problem with the decision, either.
“The game was out of reach at that point, and [Shurmur] took some guys out,” Manning said. “I was fine with that.”
Jones said he’s trying to do whatever he can to help the team, even if he’s not playing.
“You’re just trying to stay engaged, trying to find a way to help, seeing what’s going on, understanding what’s going on and understanding what we’re doing on offense,” he said.
Overall, it was a positive experience for the former Duke quarterback.
“Just getting the feel for the first time in a regular season game,” he said. “There’s always things to learn, and I’ll definitely learn something from the time I was out there.”
But there’s no plan for more action. At least not yet. Until further notice, Manning is still the starter.