The inevitable finally happened for New York Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones on Sunday.
Andrew Van Ginkel of the Miami Dolphins came screaming around the edge past an utterly helpless Joshua Ezeudu, smashed into Jones and Jones did not get up. Jones reached one knee, was assisted off the field and went directly to the Giants’ locker room. He was diagnosed with a neck injury, the severity of which is unknown.
When we see him play again is anyone’s guess. He told coach Brian Daboll after the game that he would be “OK.” He told reporters during a post-game press conference he gamely held that he felt “fine,” and that he would have further testing on Monday.
“We’ll know a lot more tomorrow,” he said.
The last time Jones suffered a neck injury, he ended up on injured reserve and missed the final six games. Like everyone else, all we can do right now is wait for the test results.
Whatever you think of Jones, seeing him exit the game like he did in the fourth quarter with an was just a matter of time. Whether it happened Sunday, or at a point later in the season, it was going to happen eventually.
This is the play Jones was injured on, with Ezeudu late to get off the ball at the snap.
Jones has taken about as brutal a beating this season as a quarterback can take under the current rules. The sack that knocked him out of the game was the sixth he suffered on Sunday and the 28th he had taken in less than five full games.
Jones also took several big hits while escaping the pocket or on designed runs. Is he a good quarterback? A bad quarterback? That’s up to you to decide. I know he is a tough, competitive man. Sometimes the hits are his own fault for holding the ball too long or not getting down or out of bounds quickly enough.
Mostly, though, a porous offensive line has allowed teams to turn Jones into a piñata all season.
(Thanks to our commenters for pointing out the graphic above).
An injury was going to happen at some point.
The Giants were missing two offensive line starters. They were starting their fifth different offensive line in five games. Ezeudu is a guard playing left tackle. Practice squad player Jalen Mayfield played most of the game at right guard after Marcus McKethan was injured. They really don’t have a single offensive lineman playing well.
A Jones injury was inevitable. The lack of ability to run any semblance of consistent offense was also entirely predictable.
At 1-4 and with no end to their misery in sight, of course there will be chatter in the fan base about whether or not the Giants should draft Caleb Williams of USC or Drake Maye of North Carolina, the top two quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft class, if they are in position to do so next April.
Maybe Jones will be fine. Maybe he won’t be and we watch Tyrod Taylor play for the rest of the year. Or maybe Taylor plays and he gets broken, too, in which case we watch Tommy DeVito. Or Jake Fromm. Or Mike Glennon. Or whoever else is willing to take the punishment.
Unless the Giants find some solutions to the horror-show that has been their offensive line throughout the first five games of the season it isn’t going to matter who plays quarterback. It isn’t going to matter if Saquon Barkley comes back.
The Giants gave Jones a four-year, $160 million contract in the offseason. They gave him Darren Waller, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Wan’Dale Robinson, Jalin Hyatt and Barkley.
This was supposed to be the year that Jones showed us once and for all that, given the opportunity, he could lead a potent offense.
Only that opportunity has never been there.
Andrew Thomas got hurt Week 1 and the Giants’ All-Pro left tackle hasn’t played since. Judging from the fact that he did not practice last week, I wouldn’t count on him returning any time soon.
Ezeudu isn’t a left tackle; that much is obvious. This Giants organization doesn’t think Matt Peart is one, either. That’s obvious too.
Left guard has been a merry-go-round between Bredeson missing time with a concussion and now having to play center. Neither Shane Lemieux nor Mark Glowinski has been up to the task, it seems. John Michael Schmitz is promising, but the rookie center is hurt.
Marcus McKethan is learning, and showing some promise at right guard. But he left Sunday’s game with another knee injury. No telling if he will miss time.
Defenders continue to run around and through right tackle Evan Neal. As much as you want to believe/hope/pray that the 2022 No. 7 overall pick can improve, the time to admit that isn’t going to happen is getting closer.
Daboll was asked directly if the Giants had the players to make it possible for them to protect the quarterback. He didn’t answer the question. Here is what he said:
“Yeah, I mean, we got to do [a] better job. Just all the way around.”
When you are playing practice squad guys (both Jalen Mayfield and Jaylon Thomas got into Sunday’s game), inexperienced players, and guys who aren’t at their natural positions there is going to be some drop off in play. That is obvious.
As offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said during the week “it’s just part of being in the National Football League. There’s injuries everywhere.”
There is poor offensive line play throughout the league. Yet, we saw the Seattle Seahawks function Monday without either of their starting offensive tackles. Did Miami miss starting left tackle Terron Armstread when rolling up 524 yards of offense on Sunday?
Bobby Johnson is a veteran offensive line coach with a good reputation. It is fair at this point, though, to question him. Why can’t the Giants identify or pick up a stunt? Why does there so often seem to be a free runner while two offensive linemen block the same guy? Why have the Giants insisted on playing Ezeudu at left tackle, where he clearly doesn’t belong?
It’s fair to question GM Joe Schoen’s offensive line choices. He has drafted four players in two years and signed one veteran free agent. Are we sure any of them are answers? Not yet, though there should be optimism about Schmitz — and perhaps McKethan.
It will help when Thomas returns. Justin Pugh might help if he still has something left at age 33 coming off a torn ACL. Considering the state of affairs the line is in, we will probably start finding out about Pugh next Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. Maybe it will help if Schmitz is able to come back soon and Bredeson is able to go back to guard.
Right now, though, the Giants are not coming close to playing competently on the offensive line.
Sunday, Daniel Jones paid the price. Which I think we all knew he eventually would.