When it comes to playing in front of a national audience, the case can be made that Daniel Jones is the worst quarterback ever.
Of course, he’s not. There have been plenty of other players who have stunk far more than he does . . . and there have been times during those spotlighted contests, too, when he’s actually been pretty good. But no quarterback in the history of football has done what Jones has done to start his career: lose his first seven prime-time games.
"I didn’t realize it until recently," Jones said on Wednesday of his misfortune under such circumstances.
Prime Dime he is not.
He has one last chance this season to Buc the trend.
The Giants face the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Monday night, the last of the three scheduled prime-time games on their schedule. It’s a daunting task considering they’re facing a team that has the undisputed greatest quarterback of all time as well as a few others who can hold their own in arguments about the best to ever play their positions.
Add in the lights and late kickoff, and history shows that the Giants could be in a lot of trouble. They have dropped nine straight prime-time games in a span that predates Joe Judge’s arrival and includes two games that Jones was injured for and did not start (Eli Manning and Colt McCoy fared no better than Jones in their prime-time starts during this string of futility).
So what do the Giants plan to do about this?
Not much. At least not as far as their preparation or routine leading up to Monday night’s game is concerned.
"We’re all kind of creatures of habit when it comes to football," Judge said. "We have not changed anything specifically because of prime-time games. I’ve been a part of that. It hasn’t always made the biggest difference to be honest with you. To me it’s we’ll get prepared and go out there and play."
As for the reasons behind the prime-time slump, there are plenty. For one, those contests tend to be against better competition. The Giants have three scheduled this season, one against the defending NFC East champion and two against the two teams that played in last year’s Super Bowl. Watch the promos on TV leading up to Monday’s game and you’ll realize that the Giants are an afterthought.
It’s also easy to create a slice of failure out of a large pie of disappointment. Sure the Giants have lost their last nine prime-time games. They’re also 16-32 overall since their last prime-time win, a Nov. 12, 2018 victory over the 49ers.
"We haven’t won enough games here recently, period," Jones said.
And while Jones gets saddled with the record, he has not been the problem in all of those losses (he has seven touchdown passes and seven interceptions in the seven games). Had Evan Engram pulled in a pass to seal the victory over the Eagles last year, or had the Giants stayed onside for Washington’s missed field goal and Patrick Mahomes’ interception to Darnay Holmes this season, his record would be significantly better.
"I don’t think prime time is getting to us," cornerback James Bradberry said. "Any given Sunday. Or Monday. Or Thursday."
Unless, of course, you are the Giants. In which case those spotlight games have burned.
"We’re preparing for this week," Jones said, focusing on the Bucs and not the broadcast. "Each game is different, each game is a different opportunity . . . We have to look at this game individually and prepare for that game."
Beyond being winless in late time slots, Jones is also 0-4 in nationally broadcast games that start at 4:25. He has never won a game when all or most of the country is watching. Ten of his 11 NFL victories as a starter have been 1 o’clock kickoffs.
The one outlier? His first career start that began at 4:05.
That game, like this upcoming one, was in Tampa and against the Bucs.
At least that’s something for the Giants to hold onto as they prepare for their next experience with national exposure.
Giants' last nine prime-time games, all losses
Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019: At New England, 35-14
Monday, Nov. 4, 2019: Vs. Dallas, 37-18
Monday, Dec. 9, 2019: At Philadelphia, 23-17 (OT)*
Monday, Sept. 14, 2020: Vs. Pittsburgh, 26-16
Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020: At Philadelphia, 22-21
Monday, Nov. 2, 2020: Vs. Tampa Bay, 25-23
Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020: Vs. Cleveland, 20-6**
Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021: At Washington, 30-29
Monday, Nov. 1, 2021: At Kansas City, 20-17
*-Eli Manning started
**-Colt McCoy started