EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — No matter what rookie quarterback Daniel Jones does the rest of the season, the New York Giants are going to continue to be an NFL also-ran until they do something with their defense.
Take a look at the standings.
There is no doubt Giants fans are overjoyed seeing Jones throw two touchdowns and run for two more in his first start, rallying the team from an 18-point deficit in a wild 32-31 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
The 1-2 record looks a lot better than 0-3.
But look at the right side of the standings, where it says points allowed. The Giants have given up 94 in three games. That's the worst in the NFC and the second worst in the league, topped only by the dreadful Miami Dolphins, who have given up 133.
The total points allowed for the Giants should be 97 and the record 0-3 despite how well Jones played, hitting 23 of 36 passes for 336 in his first start since replacing Eli Manning. The Bucs missed a chip-shot field goal on the final play. They should have won.
So before getting giddy with Jones, the sixth pick overall in the draft, realize the Giants still have a lot to do to get better to be a contender again.
R-P-O. The run-pass option was something lacking from the Giants' offense and Jones brought it with his ability to run and pass. Manning only ran as a last result. Now opponents have to be on the lookout for that other option and it was effective against the Bucs. Manning had seven career rushing TDs in 15-plus seasons. Jones is just five behind after his first as a starter.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
It would be easy to say everyone on the defense. Breaking it down, let's point a finger at cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He ripped the defensive line for failing to get a pass rush last week. He was toasted by Mike Evans, who finished with nine catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns. With the Giants clinging to a one-point lead late, Jenkins allowed Evans to get behind him for a 44-yard catch to the New York 9. Bucs rookie placekicker Matt Gay saved the Giants, going wide right from 34 yards on the final play.
Has to be Jones. While the Duke product played well in training camp and the preseason, this was his first start in real action. He didn't disappoint and now the pressure is going to be him to follow it up with another big effort. It's going to be tougher with Saquon Barkley out, but the Giants did their damage against the Bucs after the running back left the game.
After playing well in the first two games, the revamped offensive line was abused by the Buccaneers and linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who had four of Tampa Bay's five sacks. Barrett also had a forced fumble on one of the sacks, leading to a field goal. Left tackle Nate Solder, who signed a four-year, $62 million contract before the 2018 season, did not hold up against the speed rush, and the coaching staff didn't bother to give him help.
Barkley has a high sprain to his right ankle. That usually takes at least a month to heal. LB Alex Ogletree pulled a hamstring running with what the officials called a fumble. Booth review overturned the fumble call, so he was hurt on a play that should have been dead. His backup, Tae Davis, sustained a concussion. WR Russell Shepard has a sprained foot that is a concern.
Same as last week: 3 — the third-down statistics. After going 5 of 23 on offense in the opening two weeks, the Giants were 6 of 13 against the Bucs, or 46%. In the first two weeks, opponents had converted 11 of 23 against the defense, or 47.8%. Tampa Bay was 4 of 14, or 29%.
Having Jones and the offense play the same way against the Redskins on Sunday, while the defense and coordinator James Bettcher find a way to stop giving up so many yards and points. Tampa Bay scored on six straight possessions to take a 28-10 lead and then got conservative in the second half. It was the second week in a row the defense has played well for a half. Not good enough.