The New York Giants seek their first win when rookie Daniel Jones makes his NFL debut against the (1-1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—The Daniel Jones era has officially begun. On Tuesday, Pat Shurmur announced the 22-year-old rookie would start over two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning when the Giants face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
It’s a surreal moment for the Giants organization as they’re turning the page from the most prolific passer in the history of the franchise. But at the same time, they’re excited about the prospect of what Jones can bring to the offense.
Jones and the Giants will have their work cut out for them if they’re going to get their first win of the season as the Bucs have had 10 days off since their 20-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers last Thursday night.
Here’s what the Giants will need to do to get a win on Sunday:
1. Build Jones’ confidence
It would be natural if Jones experiences some jitters making his first NFL start, particularly on the road. So the Giants should try to build Jones confidence early by have him throwing short and safe passes.
Although the Giants will be without Cody Latimer, due to concussion, they will get Sterling Shepard back after missing last week with a concussion. Shurmur needs to draw up a game plan for Jones to get the ball into Shepard and Evan Engram’s hands earlier with short passes.
2. Press the Buccaneers receivers
Simply put, the Giants defense has been atrocious in their first two games of the season, giving up 63 points. The secondary, particularly, has been awful allowing Cowboys and Bills receivers to run free downfield.
One of the issues is that the Giants cornerbacks have been giving receivers too much cushion on the line of scrimmage. On Sunday, defensive coordinator James Bettcher needs to change things up by having Janoris Jenkins, DeAndre Baker and the rest of the corners press Mike Evan and Chris Goodwin so they don’t get free releases to run downfield.
3. Feed Saquon the ball
The best way to make Jones’s NFL debut go as smoothly as possible is to get the ball into the hands of Saquon Barkley often. Through two games, Barkley is averaging 137 all-purpose yards a game and he continues to prove that he’s a threat for a big gain at any moment.
Last week, the Bucs defense held Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey to 53 all-purpose yards on 18 touches. If Tampa has success early containing Barkley the Giants can’t get discouraged and go away from Barkley. The Bucs will be without rookie linebacker Devin White so Barkley should be in for another big game.
4. Utilize Daniel Jones' legs
The biggest benefit of Jones being the quarterback is the added dimension he brings with his mobility. Shurmur can open up the playbook by having more rollout passes and run-pass options.
When Jones played in the preseason, the Giants didn’t use any RPO, so the Bucs defense won’t have any film to game plan against it. Jones’s mobility could be just what the Giants need to pull off the upset.
5. Force Jameis Winston into making mistakes
James Bettcher has come under fire for how poorly his defense has performed in the first two weeks of the season. This week, they’ll face a cornerback in Jameis Winston, who has the ability to light up defenses, but also has a tendency to turn the ball over.
In 58 career games, Winston has thrown 61 interceptions. Bettcher must dial-up schemes to pressure Winston and confuse him into making mistakes. The Giants defense should come away with their first interception of the season.
Many feel the offense will be better with Jones at the helm because of his mobility and accuracy. But until they prove otherwise, the Giants defense can’t be trusted until they showcase actual production.