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Bucs 25, Giants 23: 7 ‘things I think’ as Giants fall to 1-7

Daniel Jones’ future, and other thoughts

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Here are a few things I think after the New York Giants lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 25-23, on Monday.

To be the future, Daniel Jones has to learn

Giants’ second-year quarterback Daniel Jones had two crushing, and inexcusable, second-half interceptions on Monday night. Both were on balls that either should never have been thrown or, if they were, should have been thrown far out of harm’s way rather than to a spot where they could turn disastrous. Which is exactly what they did.

If you want to say this loss falls squarely on Jones’ shoulders, I’m not going to argue with you.

The first interception wasted a 45-yard Dion Lewis kickoff return on the opening play of the second half. The second came when the Giants, clinging to a two-point lead, had driven into Tampa Bay territory looking for a score that would make it a two point game.

The two interceptions wrecked Giants’ scoring opportunities, and led directly to 10 Tampa Bay points.

Sadly, we have seen this mistake — not being able to quit on a play, throw a ball away or just take a sack and live for the next play — over and over from Jones this season.

Jones does so many good things. Monday, he often delivered the ball quickly and accurately on short throws. He threw a beautiful pass to Dion Lewis for a 7-yard touchdown. His 19-yard scoring pass to Golden Tate with :28 left could not have been thrown better.

Yet, the unforced interceptions continue. Jones now has 21 interceptions in 20 career starts.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said this about Jones:

“You know the young QB, he’s still trying to do too much ... It cost them basically the ball game throwing those two picks. But God bless him, he is hard to handle, and he’s a kid that thinks he can make a play.”

Jones hears over and over from the coaching staff that he has to get rid of the ball, that he can’t put it in harm’s way, that he has to be able to accept when a play is dead.

“That’s certainly what I have to do in those situations,” Jones said. “When you’re out there competing and playing hard you’ve gotta be able to understand that part of the game and understand when it’s over. I have to do a lot better job there.”

Jones said “the communication’s clear, the coaching’s clear” that he has to be better at “preventing the big mistake.”

“I’ve gotta do a better job applying it,” he said.

If he can’t — soon — it’s fair to wonder if the Giants will be back in the quarterback market this offseason. I am far from ready to say they need to be, but the repetitive nature of the mistakes from Jones is alarming and makes the question of whether or not he will ultimately become the long-term answer at quarterback one that needs to be asked.

I think this was a missed opportunity

The turnovers by Jones will get most of the attention. They weren’t, though, the only opportunities the Giants missed Monday night.

Jones failed to connect on approximately five deep balls, most to Darius Slayton. The astounding part is that Jones generally has excellent deep ball accuracy. Jones was also both late and inaccurate on the failed two-point conversion try. An on-time, on-target throw likely ties the game.

The Giants had an 11-point first-half lead. They still had a lead after three quarters. They had an opportunity for a stunning, signature victory. Instead, all they got was another try-hard, close loss that left Judge talking about improvement in his post-game video-conference.

I think you should never assume

I would have told you this sack of Daniel Jones was Dion Lewis’ fault. Geoff Schwartz explains why that wasn’t the case.

I think there is hope for the offensive line

I don’t know what the final grades will be for rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas rookie left guard Shane Lemieux, but without re-watching the game my first impression is that both pretty well.

Thomas was charged with a sack, but it came on a Jones scramble where Jason Pierre-Paul just fell off Thomas’s block and tackled Jones before he ran by. There was nothing Thomas could have done.

Lemieux likely made a mistake on the one sack shown above, but held up well. He needs to continue to play. I think he did enough that, should the Giants get a decent offer for Kevin Zeitler before Tuesday’s trade deadline, I would encourage them to take it.

I think Jason Garrett deserves props

The Giants’ offensive coordinator called a wonderful game. Perhaps he wasn’t aggressive enough on third and 10 from the Tampa Bay 15-yard line, calling a quick screen that went nowhere and forced the Giants to settle for a Graham Gano field goal that gave the Giants a 17-15 lead heading to the fourth quarter. Still, all-in-all I thought Garrett called his best game of the season Monday night.

The Giants masterfully mixed run and pass. They stuck to a plan of running straight ahead power. They used lots of quick throws to simplify the game for Jones. They were creative, using a throwback screen pass from Golden Tate to Wayne Gallman. They took a number of deep shots.

It’s not Garrett’s fault that Jones missed on far too many of those deep shots. That the quarterback threw two awful second-half interceptions. That Jones was late and off-target on a two-point try that should have tied the game.

I think Patrick Graham deserves props, too

There is no other way to put it than to say the Giants’ defense is outplaying its talent level. That is absolutely a credit to Graham, the defensive coordinator.

Graham used a variety of coverages on Monday, a number of times to such good effect that it enabled Giants’ pass rusher to pressure or sack Tom Brady. Graham is getting as much out of a Giants’ defense that really lacks dynamic playmakers as would appear possible.

I think the trade deadline will be interesting

As I said above, I think Lemieux showed the Giants enough promise that they could feel more comfortable with the idea of moving on from Zeitler. I also think Golden Tate reminded contending teams that he might be able to help them with his late-game touchdown grab.

We’ll see if both are still with the Giants by Tuesday night.