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Giants grades: QB Daniel Jones gives offense a fresh new and improved look

Quarterback Daniel Jones of the Giants rolls out

Quarterback Daniel Jones of the Giants rolls out and runs for a first down in the second quarter during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. Credit: Getty Images/Mike Zarrilli

OFFENSE: B PLUS

Daniel Jones looked fairly good in his first start. The rookie quarterback led the team in passing (336 yards) and rushing (28 yards). He was 23-for-36 passing with two touchdowns. While he did not throw an interception, he did fumble twice during five sacks. Sterling Shepard (seven catches, 100 yards) and Evan Engram (six, 113) were tremendous assets. The team gained 384 total yards and did it without much contribution from their best player, Saquon Barkley, who had 10 rushing yards on 8 carries before leaving with an ankle injury.

DEFENSE: C

A week after calling out the team, Janoris Jenkins did little to back up his words. The cornerback allowed Mike Evans to score three touchdowns and catch eight passes for 190 yards, and while he was much better in the second half, he let up a long 44-yard gain in the final minute that set up the would-be game-winning field goal. But others did much better. Michael Thomas’ tackle on third-and-3 with 3:19 left was a key stop that gave the ball to the Giants for the go-ahead drive. Rookie Ryan Connelly became the leader on the defense with Alec Ogletree (hamstring) sidelined, and he had an interception. The Giants totaled four sacks, two by Markus Golden.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

When Dexter Lawrence blocked an extra-point attempt late in the first quarter, it seemed like a minor footnote in the boxscore. The Giants wound up winning by that one point. For a while, this was the only unit that was functioning properly. Michael Thomas and Antonio Hamilton each had important open field tackles in punt coverage. The Giants allowed just 1.8 yards per punt return and no kickoff returns. Aldrick Rosas kicked a 36-yard field goal and Ryan Dixon had some clutch punts from deep in Giants territory in the second half.

COACHING: B PLUS

Pat Shurmur certainly pushed a lot of the right buttons going all the way back to Tuesday when he named Jones the starter. He and the coaching staff were able to take a team that was without Barkley and Ogletree and trailing 28-10 at halftime in a road game and orchestrate a win. Offensively, the playbook was wide open with designed runs for the quarterback, new formations, and some excitement. It wasn’t flawless. The Giants nearly cost themselves a win with clock management and they burned a timeout when they challenged an offensive pass interference call.

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