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Amid his rookie struggles, Giants remain confident in Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones of the New York Giants walks

Daniel Jones of the New York Giants walks to the sidelines late in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 20, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Golden Tate played with a rookie quarterback in Seattle. At the time Russell Wilson broke into the league, Tate was just a third-year player. “We both kind of didn’t really know what was going on,” the Giants receiver said.

Now a 10-year veteran, Tate has a much better understanding of life in the NFL, what it takes to succeed and where the trapdoors of failure are located. But he’s back with a rookie quarterback again, this time Daniel Jones, who has to learn all of that for himself.

It does mean tolerating certain deficiencies, Tate said.

“But it’s nothing you make verbal,” he said Monday. “You don’t want to bring down his standard. You want to teach all young guys the correct way to do things and what the expectations are, but mentally you know that there are going to be mistakes made, there are things that are going to pop up that they are just not familiar with.”

The Giants have seen too many of those from Jones in the last three games. Seven turnovers in that stretch. Zero wins, including Sunday’s uninspired 27-21 loss to the Cardinals.

After a blazing start that ignited everyone’s imagination about how good Jones can be — accompanied by speculation that he might be able to jump over the so-called growing pains that many rookie quarterbacks encounter — his short-term flame has been doused.

At least on the outside.

Internally, the Giants are just as high on Jones as they were when he led them to that comeback win over the Bucs in his first career start a little more than a month ago. “I’m definitely not going to lower my expectations for DJ,” Tate said, “and I don’t think he is, either.”

Neither are the Giants. Pat Shurmur said the turnovers have to be fixed and that Jones needs to stop giving the ball to opposing teams, whether it be by interception or fumbling. But he also said he has no plans of making any quarterback changes because of a few struggles by the rookie.

“No,” he said firmly Monday about the concept of benching Jones. “No. I think Daniel is going to learn from everything that is going on. Just like all the other rookies in there playing are going to learn from what’s happening.

“But you have to learn and you have to win games. I’m well aware of that. Totally well aware of that.”

Jones is not the first quarterback to hit a rough patch as a rookie. He’s not even the only current Giants quarterback to have experienced such early and high-profile misery.

In his rookie season, Eli Manning lost six straight games before posting a victory and looked lost in many of those efforts.

The next year, the Giants won their division, and two years after that, they won the Super Bowl.

Jones said he doesn’t rely on such history to repeat itself.

“I don’t know if I’ve thought about that a whole lot,” he said. “I think the focus right now is to improve and fix what we need to do better and try to get back on track this week. I’m certainly confident in myself, I’m confident in the team, that we will fix it.”

Shurmur said there is plenty that Jones does well and that he has seen growth from the quarterback despite the outward look of regression. He also understands that mistakes carry more weight than successes and that it takes only one or two of the former to overshadow a dozen or more of the latter.

“What’s right is right,” Shurmur said last week, insisting that he does not grade Jones on a rookie curve. That’s still the case. But there also is the reality of having a first-time signal-caller and play-facilitator at quarterback.

“I think that’s part of playing as a rookie,” Shurmur said Monday. “There are going to be some things that pop up and you see for the first time, and you react to it.”

And hope that the lessons start to sink in.

“He’s tough, he’s resilient and I think he’s got a bright future,” Shurmur said. “That’s what I like about him .  .  . But we live in the real world.

“The real world is you need to win football games.”


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