The more things change — and, boy, they have changed — the more they stay the same, at least for Giants quarterback Daniel Jones on Friday night.
Jones, stepping into an empty MetLife Stadium for the final intrasquad scrimmage of Giants training camp, did little in a half’s worth of work to show that he has put behind him the fumbling issues that plagued him as a rookie, as the defense beat the offense, 23-22.
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Lorenzo Carter had his strongest performance of the summer, sacking Jones four times. On Carter’s final sack, he punched the ball loose, but officials blew the play dead because it was ruled Jones had his red jersey touched before the ball came out.
Protecting the football is the biggest hurdle Jones must clear to take the significant leap forward in his second season, after fumbling 18 times in 2019.
Friday night, Jones led the offense on one drive to a field goal, but was unable to convert the lone red zone trip into a touchdown.
Jones was not done any favors by his offensive line, though, as Carter made Cam Fleming look like a turnstile all half.
However, it is still only August, and this was only the second competitive situation (in addition to last week’s scrimmage) for Jones behind the Giants’ rebuilt offensive line and in a new system. Jones also had one efficient drive, completing all four of his passes on a first-quarter possession.
Overall, Jones’ helter-skelter performance Friday mirrors what has been an inconsistent training camp.
Here’s a breakdown of Jones’ performance in the scrimmage:
8-for-11 passing, 4 sacks
Darius Slayton broke wide open on a slant pattern, and Jones led him nicely for a big gain and a first down. For the second consecutive scrimmage, Slayton was a favorite target of Jones, as the two connected on three of four targets.
Early in the second quarter, Jones tried to hit Slayton deep downfield near the end zone, but the ball was badly underthrown and hit safety Julian Love, who was providing blanket coverage, in the back.
Jones had his first pass batted down at the line of scrimmage by defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, but responded nicely by hitting Sterling Shepard on a slant route for a nine-yard gain despite Devante Downs in blanket coverage.
The completion to Shepard showed Jones is capable of bouncing back from a bad play. He also went a stretch completing five consecutive passes across two possessions. This is the closest thing to live game action that Jones will experience before the regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and there were some things to like and some mistakes that still need cleaning up.
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