Daniel Jones
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

After three subpar performances, Daniel Jones is poised to bounce back against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium this Sunday.

Jason Leach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—Over his first four NFL starts, Daniel Jones shut down his wide array of critics. Even his biggest detractors have to be impressed with the accuracy and poise the New York Giants quarterback is displaying in the early part of his career.

However, since his NFL debut, when he helped engineer an 18-point second-half comeback in a Week 2 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he has had three less-than-stellar performances.

In each of the three games that followed, Jones’s passing yards, passer rating, and QBR have gone down in every game. Some of this can be attributed to going up against tougher defenses, opponents having more film on Jones and injuries to Giants playmakers.

Team Comp Att Yards Comp% TD INT QB Rating QBR
Buccaneers 23 36 336 63.9 2 0 112.7 88.6
Redskins 23 31 225 74.2 1 2 78.0 66.7
Vikings 21 38 182 55.3 1 1 65.9 33.5
Patriots 15 31 161 48.4 1 3 35.2 25.5

This can be expected from a rookie quarterback as they go through the peaks and valleys of their first year in the NFL. But there are reasons to believe Jones will have a bounce-back game against the Cardinals.

For one, he’s facing a Cardinals defense that’s 30th against the pass. So far this season, the Cardinals defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for 1,776 yards, 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Jones and head coach Pat Shurmur must be salivating knowing they’re facing a defense that has been this putrid against the pass.

Another advantage for Jones comes from his long week of preparation. The Giants last played on Oct. 10 during a Thursday Night Football game against the New England Patriots.

Additionally, as a competitor, he’s probably anxious to showcase his skills in front of the No. 1 overall pick, Kyler Murray. Sunday will mark the first meeting between the first two quarterbacks taken in the draft.

The fourth and most important reason to believe Jones will have a bounce-back game is that, barring a setback, Jones will have his two best playmakers on the field on Sunday—Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram.

Barkley has missed the last three games due to a high ankle sprain and Engram missed Week 6 against the Patriots with a knee injury. But both fully participated at practice for the second game in a row on Thursday, and are expected to play on Sunday.

Due to the high ankle sprain, Barkley sustained in Week 3 against the Buccaneers, he and Jones have only been on the field together for less than one half of football. Having a dynamic playmaker in Barkley will certainly make life easier for Jones.

“I think we have done a good job running the ball these past couple of weeks,” Jones told reporters when asked if having Barkley back would help take some of the pressure off of him. “Obviously, he’s a playmaker, he makes a lot of plays. We all have to do our job, we all have to make plays when we get the opportunity.”

Sunday will mark the first time all year that Jones will share the field with Barkley, Engram, Golden Tate, and rookie Darius Slayton. There’s also a slim possibility that Sterling Shepard could play as well. He was limited in Thursday’s practice.

Expect the Giants to open up the playbook and be more daring in the play-calling on Sunday. As a result, expect Jones’s performance to resemble how he played in his NFL debut as opposed to the three games that followed. He’ll be dropping dimes all over the field against a suspect Cardinals defense.

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