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Giants notebook: Daniel Jones, motion on offense, Jihad Ward’s value, more

Emptying the notebook on a Friday as the Giants prep for the Carolina Panthers

Syndication: The Tennessean Andrew Nelles / / USA TODAY NETWORK

When Justin Herbert threw a goal line interception Thursday night that might have cost his Los Angeles Chargers a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, it was our Tony DelGenio who took to Twitter and made the obvious Daniel Jones reference.

That’s how it is. A quarterback considered a star like Herbert gets some slack because of all the unexpectedly great things he also does to help his team. I have seen Tom Brady throw end zone interceptions. I watched Eli Manning do it a couple of times late in his career. Guys like that get some level of forgiveness, some level of the thought that “you won’t see that mistake very often” when it does happen.

Jones? He does not have the cachet to generate that type of response. He gets a “there he goes screwing up again” reaction. He gets people wondering what head coach Brian Daboll confronting him on the bench after the play means for Jones’ future.

My $.02? Daboll’s immediate reaction to the play does not change the long-term quarterback calculus at all. Daboll was coaching. He was trying to win a game. He wanted to get information from the quarterback, and to give him some.

My take on Jones has always been that odds are against him proving he deserves to be the Giants’ starting quarterback beyond this season. In my view, I think he has to show Daboll and GM Joe Schoen that he is a quarterback the Giants can win because of. Not a quarterback you win with, or who prevents you from winning.

As many good things as Jones did against the Titans, and he did a lot, it’s plays like that end zone interception — if they continue — that will have the Giants looking for a new quarterback in 2023.

On the move

The Week 1 debut of what had been billed as a vastly different Giants’ offense was widely anticipated. It did not disappoint. The Giants scored only 21 points, but it felt and looked different.

If it looked like the Giants used motion (pre-snap and at the snap) more than they did the past couple of season, it is because they did. By a wide margin. I checked with Pro Football Focus data scientist Timo Riske and his numbers showed the Giants using some type of motion on 59 percent of their offensive plays vs. Tennessee. Last season, they used motion only 29 percent of the time.

“I think any time you can distort the box whether it’s creating a numbers count, getting guys in different spots, influencing second level and third level defenders - that helps whether it’s pass or run, it can help whatever the scheme you want to run,” offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said. “I think it helps also with the o-line getting certain angles on blocks. I think it can help in the pass game where you are creating certain types of leverages. There’s definitely a lot of benefits to it.”

Veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who had a 65-yard touchdown catch vs. the Titans, approves of the movement.

“It helps a lot. I mean it’s a lot of moving parts. Anytime you can mix up the defense that way and get a chance to see what they’re in, you can get a beat on them. This game is about inches and it’s the small things. So, any beat that you can get on the defense, it helps us out,” he said. “This whole offense is pretty different than any offense I’ve ever been in. It’s tough to grasp but whenever you get it, you can see how explosive it can be.”


— Oshane Ximines on only being partially successful in trying to douse Daboll with Gatorade after Sunday’s victory over Tennessee

Jihad Ward’s value

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale revealed Thursday that Ward had been unanimously named the team’s Week 1 defensive player of the game.

“He’s a physical, tough guy that is the character of what you’re looking for as a defensive player. He sets the pace, especially in the run game on setting the edges, and he took it personal that game, and that’s what has made him who he is.”

Martindale also said something far more revealing about his personal feelings for Ward, and his value to the Giants.

“Wherever I’m at, I hope I have Jihad Ward with me.”

Ward is not a Giants’ captain, but might as well be. He is a presence. A boisterous personality. Unafraid to hold teammates accountable. A player who started his college college career at Globe Institute of Technology, a Manhattan school that no longer exists. When the Giants had that massive training camp fight, it was Ward the team fed to a hungry media to send the message of unity it wanted sent. It was Ward who pulled head coach Brian Daboll out of a media scrum Thursday so he could get to practice.

Ward said he is just “being the same ole Haddy (his nickname).”

“I’m just being myself to be honest with you,” Ward said. “I’m not pretending (to be) something I’m not, I’m just being myself out here.”

Belton’s role

Rookie safety Dane Belton will make his NFL debut on Sunday, playing for the first time since breaking his collarbone early in training camp. Don’t expect a big role for the fourth-round pick immediately.

“I think he’s physical. I think he’s fast. I think he knows the system,” Martindale said. “We’ve just got to knock the rust off of him. So, we’ll see how he feels when he’s out there, and we’ll just slowly build with him.”

Ready for the ‘gunslinger’

Baker Mayfield will be at quarterback Sunday for the Carolina Panthers. Martindale faced him a number of times when Mayfield was QB of the Cleveland Browns and Martindale was defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

“I know him, and he knows me. So, it helps him, too,” Martindale said. “He’s one of those guys. And I’ve done this comparison before with him, and I said before when he first came out and playing against him, he’s a gun slinger. Who did they always call gun slinger? (Former Quarterback) Brett Favre. Right? And what did Brett Favre do? He left Atlanta, went to Green Bay, and he took off. Might be the same thing here for Baker.”

About that 46-yard punt return

Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said this week that punter Jamie Gillan was “a little off” in terms of his ball placement on kicks against Tennessee. That, likely, was part of the problem on the 46-yard punt return the Giants allowed in Week 1.

“It wasn’t exactly what we want, and he knows that,” McGaughey said. “A lot of times when you go through the process of making a change, it’s one thing to do it out here in practice, it’s a whole other thing to do get in the game and feel that game pressure. It’s a whole different scenario. So, he needs to get a couple more game reps so he can feel more comfortable trying to do different things in the game that he’s been trying to do, so he’ll get there.”