Quarterback Daniel Jones showed last week he’s certainly capable of taking over a game. Even if his team is trailing big at halftime. Jones led the Giants on a franchise-record 21-point second-half comeback for their first win of the year, passing and rushing for a combined 380 yards and three touchdowns.
It’s the type of player we began to see last year, what was Jones’ fourth season but first with head coach Brian Daboll’s staff. He’s had five fourth-quarter comeback wins since this regime took over, so the ability to put the game in his own hands is definitely present.
But you don’t want it to get to that point because that means the supporting cast isn’t doing enough. And unfortunately, Jones may need to put the team on his back again Thursday night against the 49ers.
On a short week on the road against arguably the best team in the NFL, Jones will be without running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), left tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring), and left guard Ben Bredeson (concussion). And wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) is questionable and may need to delay his 2023 debut to Week 4.
On top of the injuries, it’s still unclear if the young offensive line will develop any consistency with a second-year left tackle (Josh Ezeudu), rookie center (John Michael Schmitz), second-year right guard (Marcus McKethan), and struggling second-year right tackle (Evan Neal) set to start.
Plus the team still doesn’t have many reliable receivers. Rookie Jalin Hyatt had two big catches in last week’s win over the Cardinals. And Isaiah Hodgins scored the game-tying touchdown. But Hodgins still racked up only 40 yards on the day, Parris Campbell gained just 21 yards, and Sterling Shepard had just one catch for four yards. Besides Hyatt’s two big plays and Hodgins touchdown, the only consistent receiving production came from tight end Darren Waller (six catches for 76 yards) and wideout Darius Slayton (three catches for 62 yards).
And just because Hyatt and Hodgins made big plays Sunday doesn’t mean they will against a talented 49ers defense. Don’t forget: Giants receivers combined for just five catches against the Cowboys, another NFC juggernaut, in Week 1. So the group still needs to prove it can stay consistent.
The point is, this Giants offense will not be equipped to compete against one of the NFL’s elites on Thursday Night Football. Which means all the pressure is on Daniel Jones, who once again must take over a game without a highly productive, highly dependable supporting cast by his side.
No one seems to be picking the Giants to win. And they probably won’t. But if they do pull off the upset, it’ll be because of the quarterback play in spite of the team’s various setbacks.
Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny