Daniel Jones wasn’t perfect.
That was inevitable. After his sterling debut in last week’s preseason opener, did you really think the rookie quarterback could go his whole career without ever throwing an incomplete pass or making a mistake? Unrealistic expectations to the absurd degree, of course.
It also may have been somewhat fortuitous. It allowed Jones to show a talent that might otherwise have gone unrecognized, one that certainly comes in handy for every NFL quarterback. That’s the ability to bounce back from adversity.
One of the many things the Giants love about Jones is his skill at shaking off bad plays and moving on. They could have done without so many of those bad plays in Friday night’s game against the Backup Bears, of course, but he was able to demonstrate his resilience after a squirmy stretch of football that included three straight incompletions, two lost fumbles and three scoreless possessions.
He rebounded from those gaffes to lead the Giants on two scoring drives to close out the first half in a 32-13 victory over the Bears.
“He didn’t panic,” Pat Shurmur said. “He dropped the ball a couple times, he didn’t call his parents. He did a good job of getting us in the end zone.”
On his fourth drive, Jones brought the Giants to a field goal and a 10-3 lead by going 4-for-4 for 42 yards, including a 27-yarder to Brittan Golden. Then, after a safety by the Bears, Jones again went 4-for-4, this time for 56 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Jones with 1:14 left in the second quarter for a 19-3 lead.
It was the second straight week that Jones threw for a touchdown on his final pass of the game.
Jones finished the game 11-for-14 for 161 yards and a passer rating of 138.4. Not perfect. But not too shabby, either.
Almost parenthetically, Eli Manning started the game and led the Giants on a brisk touchdown drive. He was 4-for-4 for 42 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown pass to Bennie Fowler III. But that’s what a 16-year veteran is supposed to do with a starting offensive line in front of him while the Bears hibernated their starting defense. Manning, the Giants have made fairly clear, will be their starting quarterback to begin this season. The preseason is about evaluating the readiness of Jones.
Jones’ best pass of the game came on his first drive, the second of the game for the Giants. He dropped back in the pocket, saw receiver Cody Latimer streaking down the left sideline and flung a strong pass that Latimer was able to high-point and catch for a 40-yard gain. Jones put the ball exactly where it needed to be, when it needed to arrive, and it was his third straight completion to begin the game.
On the next snap, however, he fumbled the football while stepping away from the exchange under center and gave it to the Bears. The rookie looked every bit like a rookie.
That began a mini-avalanche of bad football for Jones. He threw three straight incomplete passes over the next two possessions (although one was dropped) and then fumbled again. This time he was caught holding the ball too low and too casually and Bears linebacker James Vaughters swooped in and stripped it from his grip.
Shurmur’s advice to Jones: “Don’t do that. It’s very simple: Don’t drop the snap, and keep two hands on the ball in the pocket.”
“I was very upset,” Jones said. “Those are two mistakes you can’t make. Two bad mistakes.”
Mistakes that Jones was able to rebound from.
“That’s a big part of football for everyone, particularly quarterbacks,” he said. “There are going to be things that don’t go great. Obviously, you never want that and you try to guard against them. But when they happen, you have to find a way to make it work.”
Notes & quotes: Alonzo Russell didn’t catch a pass but had an impact, making a touchdown-saving tackle on an interception return and forced a fumble in punt coverage . . . Rookie Jon Hilliman ran for 56 yards and a TD . . . The Giants rested Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram . . . Cornerback Antonio Hamilton left the game with a groin injury in the first half. Hamilton started in place of DeAndre Baker (knee).