Daniel Jones knows he hasn’t been a big-game player. Since joining the league in 2019, Jones is 0-7 in prime-time games, with the four most recent losses all coming by three points or less. But as the New York Giants head into a Monday night road matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jones gave a brutally honest assessment of that statistic.
“I think each one of them was a different game,” Jones said on Wednesday. “We haven’t won enough games here recently, period, so you look at whatever the situation is. We’ve got to look at this game individually and preparing for that game. I really haven’t thought about [my prime-time record]. I didn’t realize it until recently.”
Jones’ history against Tampa Bay is something of a microcosm of his career so far. In his first career start, Jones erased an 18-point halftime deficit to get the win while throwing for 336 yards and two touchdowns. But in their Monday night matchup last year, Jones threw two interceptions in the second half as New York lost 25-23.
“I think when you look at that game, it was back and forth,” Jones said. “So, we’ve got to do a good job protecting the football and making plays when they come. There are things we’ll be able to learn from how they played us and how they game planned and what we were able to do. We’ll certainly look to that game.”
This time around, the Giants will face a Tampa defense devastated by injuries. The team placed Richard Sherman on Injured Reserve on Wednesday, giving them four cornerbacks on IR. Defensive tackle Vita Vea is questionable with a knee injury. However, Jones doesn’t think that in itself calls for a more aggressive offensive attack.
“I think, like I said, we’re playing against their defense and we’ll look to execute what our game plan is going in against their defense and trust our defense to play well and make their plays. That’s how we’re thinking about it going in,” Jones said.
Despite the changes in personnel, Jones is comfortable in his familiarity with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
“He’s a great coach,” Jones said. “You can see going into each game he has a little bit different of a game plan for each opponent and for both of the games we’ve played against him. They’ll be prepared, they’ll be ready to go. We’ve got to prepare based off what they’ve done this year and what they’ve done against us.”
On Saquon Barkley’s potential return
Running back Saquon Barkley returned to practice Monday and appears to be on track to return from a Week 5 ankle injury. Devontae Booker has impressed in Barkley’s absence — he ran for 99 yards on 21 carries against the Las Vegas Raiders — but Jones knows exactly what Barkley brings to the table.
“Like I said, I think he’s a dynamic player and can do a lot of different things with the ball in his hands – throwing it to him, handing it to him. But I think Book’s done a great job in the time he’s played and the opportunities he’s gotten. I think he’s really stepped up and played big for us. I think they both have different strengths and different things they bring to the table,” Jones said.”
The injuries are a situation Jones is all too familiar with. With offensive tackle Andrew Thomas perhaps able to play, the Giants could have their healthiest lineup since Week 1.
“I think kind of as you prepare for each week, you’re focused on the guys who are playing and what they do and kind of the game plan depending on certain guys and who’s going to be in what spots and how you see that working out in terms of what the defense is doing. I think that’s kind of how I’m focused on it and I know the guys who are hurt are really working hard to get back,” Jones said.
On playing against Tom Brady
It’s not quite Eli Manning vs. the Patriots, but Giants fans still get a certain hopeful feeling any time the team faces off with Tom Brady. Brady is coming off one of his worst performances of the season: 220 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in last week’s loss to the Washington Football Team.
“I think it’s how consistent he is in his decision-making,” Jones said of what makes Brady special. “I think you talk about understanding what the defense is doing and making a good decision on where to go with the ball every single time and how consistent he is with that, how well he understands that part and how accurate he is when he throws it.”