Daniel Jones will start his 10th game at quarterback on Sunday. It probably will be with the seventh combination of skill position players alongside him.
The Giants are likely to be without wide receiver Golden Tate (concussion) and tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion) when they play the Packers at MetLife Stadium, leaving the rookie quarterback with yet another grab bag of targets with whom he will take the field.
Jones, in other words, quickly has become the most dependable piece of the offense, the one guy the Giants have been able to count on to be on the field. And he’s been doing it for only about two months.
But the menagerie of teammates with him has been a challenge throughout the season. The Giants had four key offensive weapons in mind when they began the year, but Engram, Tate, Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley have yet to play a single down together.
“That’s just our season,” said Barkley, who missed three games with a high ankle sprain. “We’re doing this well, then there’s something here. We have these guys healthy, then this guy’s not healthy. It’s just up and down, up and down, up and down. Those are the things that every team faces and we’ve been facing this year.”
But rather than shrink from the rotating lineups, Jones has been able to embrace it and play with consistency. He has thrown 17 touchdown passes, connecting with nine teammates for scoring plays.
In the last four games, Jones has thrown 11 touchdown passes and one interception. His fumbles continue to be an issue, though.
“I think it’s part of what we’re doing on offense, especially in the red zone,” Jones said of the passing efficiency. “I think we’ve had a good plan for it and we’ve been able to get open, and you’re just trying to find the open guy.”
Whoever that happens to be.
Last week Jones got Shepard back from a concussion only to lose Tate to one. The likeliest starters on Sunday will be Barkley at running back, rookie Kaden Smith at tight end and Shepard, Cody Latimer and Darius Slayton at wide receiver.
“We’re confident in the guys to step up,” Jones said. “We’ve had guys go down, but I think every time someone’s gone down, someone’s stepped up and played well. So I have a lot of confidence in those guys and I think we have chemistry across the board with a lot of different people. I have confidence in them and I know the team does, too, so we’ll be ready.”
Notes & quotes: The Giants could have been eliminated from playoff contention if the Cowboys had beaten the Bills on Thursday, but their 26-15 loss left open the slightest mathematical door for the Giants to win the NFC East. To do so, they will have to win their final five games, have the Cowboys lose their last four, and have the Eagles lose to either the Dolphins or Redskins. The Giants already have been eliminated from the wild-card races … Markus Golden has a team-best 7 1/2 sacks, the highest total by a Giants linebacker since Jessie Armstead had nine in 1999.