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Rookie records aside, Daniel Jones must learn how to protect the ball

Daniel Jones of the Giants heads for the

Daniel Jones of the Giants heads for the sidelines during a game against the Eagles at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Daniel Jones collected an impressive set of rookie records. But as he looks ahead to becoming an NFL sophomore, he’s going to need to find a cure for a problem — failure to hold on to the football.

With the Giants trailing the Eagles by three points early in the fourth quarter in the season finale on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Jones managed to fumble twice on one play.

He dropped the shotgun snap, picked it up, then was stripped of the ball. It got away, and that led to the game getting away.

The Eagles took over at the 2 and converted the turnover into a touchdown en route to a 34-17 victory, leaving the Giants’ final tab at 4-12.

“Costly mistake at a key point of the game,” Jones said.

The two fumbles lifted his total to 18, including 11 that were lost. That followed a preseason in which he fumbled three times and lost two. Jones thinks that’s the biggest thing that needs fixing.

“That certainly is clear to me,” he said. “It’s something I need to work on and improve, hold on to the ball, make good decisions when I am throwing the ball. All that stuff is key to our success and something I need to improve on.”

Jones threw a late interception, giving him a reasonable total of 12. He also threw for 301 yards — his fifth 300-yard game — and for his 24th touchdown. That extended his Giants rookie record.

The sixth overall pick in the draft also set Giants single-season rookie records for most completions (284), attempts (459) and passing yards (3,027). He also ran for 279 yards.

In other words, there was a lot to like here.

“He’s going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Saquon Barkley said. “That’s a fact. I know that for sure. Not just because of his talent. He’s very talented. But put the talent aside. Just look at the way he comes to work. One of the first people in and one of the last people to leave . . . He’s very rare. He’s going to be very special.”

Jones replaced Eli Manning in Week 3. In Week 17, Jones tied Manning for the second-most consecutive games with at least one scoring pass (12) in franchise history.

This likely was Manning’s final game in a Giants uniform.

“Eli was huge for my growth and my development,” Jones said.

He felt the same about Pat Shurmur, whose future as Giants coach is in doubt.

“I certainly support him and believe in him as a coach,” Jones said. “I think he’s a tremendous football coach.”

With his first season now over, he can look back and feel some satisfaction.

“I feel like I’ve progressed a lot, improved a lot in a lot of ways,” Jones said. “But at the same time, there are things to work on . . . I understand that. But looking back to Week 1 or Week 3, I feel like I’ve come a long way.”

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