Daniel Jones has certainly brought a new dimension to the Giants’ offense.
In his first two starts he’s been able to run for 61 yards. Some of his best plays during this small sample, in fact, have come from his running. He scooted into the end zone twice against the Bills, including on the game-winner, and against Washington he converted a third-and-13 in the third quarter by spinning away from a potential sack and sprinting for a gain of 16 yards and a first down.
That doesn’t even include some of the throws he’s been able to make on the move, juking around the backfield before finding open receivers.
“He’s slippery,” said Giants wide receiver Golden Tate, who has been watching from afar while serving a four-game suspension but returns to the field this week. “He finds his way out of some sticky situations and makes plays.”
They might soon start calling him Danny Dash.
But Jones also brings a new dimension to the Giants’ backup quarterback job, too. Because every time a quarterback runs with the ball in the NFL, he’s putting himself in peril. The Giants don’t have to look too far to find some examples of how dangerous it can be to have a young quarterback who feels invincible dart around the field only to find out he isn’t. It’s happened a few times to Carson Wentz with the Eagles. He hasn’t played a 16-game schedule since his rookie year in 2016.
Just this weekend it happened to Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky (shoulder), while scrambling away from a pass rush, and Bills quarterback Josh Allen (concussion), while lunging for a touchdown.
Both of those injuries happened against the next two defenses the Giants will face, the Vikings and Patriots.
That’s not to say that Jones is doomed, but he certainly is at more risk than Eli Manning was.
The most remarkable aspect of Manning’s career with the Giants may be that he never missed a start because of injury in 16 seasons. In fact, there were only two that he didn’t finish because of injury. In a league in which the question each Sunday is not whether a starting quarterback will be knocked out of a game but which one (or two or three) it will be, Manning was always able to avoid such hits.
Being Manning’s backup used to come with a great perk: Weekends off. Now that he is the backup, Manning likely reaches for his helmet each time Jones scampers.
Of course, Manning never really took off on runs like the 16-yarder Jones had against Washington, lunging forward, head-first, for the first down. Tight end Evan Engram admired the play. Well, most of it.
“That’s just him,” Engram said. “That’s his edge, that’s his heart. He’s just got to slide feet first.”
Not necessarily, coach Pat Shurmur said.
“Those are acceptable slides now if you go head first,” he said on Monday. “If you give yourself up, they are not supposed to be able to hit you. It’s like baseball now. You can slide head first or you can slide feet first. That’s kind of an acceptable body language to not get whacked.”
Tell that to the 250-pound linebacker screaming in to prevent a first down. Sure, a hit there might draw a flag and 15 yards. It also might send a quarterback into concussion protocol.
In 2019, though, the results clearly outweigh the risks. And now that the Giants have joined the rest of the NFL in this era of quarterback mobility, they feel the same way, too.
“Typically if you have a long scoring drive, the quarterback somewhere in there has got to do something with his feet to keep it alive,” Shurmur said. “He may scramble and throw the ball away, scramble to get some yards, maybe scramble and throw what I call a 60-yard checkdown. But that’s what you see around the league.
“Now,” he added, “the important thing is that you’re smart about it and use good judgment.”
So far, Jones has managed to remain as unscathed as his win-loss record.
The Giants should want to keep both that way for as long as possible.
Tate officially back
The Giants addedTate to the active roster after his four-game suspension and promoted linebacker Josiah Tauaefa from the practice squad on Tuesday. To make room they released wide receivers Bennie Fowler and T.J. Jones... TE Isaiah Searight was handed a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances on Tuesday. He’d been on IR for the Giants since training camp and will revert there after the suspension.