Giants still looking to win games while rebuilding on offense

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Pflum

After the Giants fell to 0-2 following their loss to the Buffalo Bills, the team's brass made the decision to promote Daniel Jones to the starting quarterback role. 

That, however, doesn't mean that head coach Pat Shurmur has given up on the Giants' season. He's expecting Jones to come out and win football games.

“I think we expect the players that we put in the game to perform well,” Shurmur said. “We try not to make excuses for the fact that players are young. If they’re in there, we expect them to play. I think that goes for quarterbacks as well.”

It is understood that Jones is a rookie and will make mistakes and have bad plays. However, the Giants will be holding him to a high standard as their new starting quarterback.

Shurmur said, “We demand that [rookies] perform well. We understand when things happen and why they happen, and we try to correct the mistakes. But no, we’re going to put him out there and expect him to do what he needs to do.”

The Giants' coach wouldn't say whether the change from Eli Manning to Jones excited him or the team, but he did say that he, and the rest of the coaching staff, would try to put Jones in the best position to succeed.

“I think it’s exciting when there’s change,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s a better question for the locker room. But as far as I’m concerned, we always put our best foot forward. We always give the players our best effort and put a plan together and call a game that will help them based on what their skillsets are. 

"The game gets called a little bit differently for Eli than it does for Daniel. You’re just trying to maximize the production out of whoever’s playing. That’s really where it’s at.

Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians is expecting things to be different with Jones on the field rather than Eli Manning. But rather than any major differences in play-calling, he is expecting Jones' athleticism to be a factor.

“I think the biggest thing is the mobility of Daniel,” Arians said. “It will be the same offense--we still have to stop Saquon. He’s a more mobile guy so you have to be a little more cautious of rush lanes and things like that. Expect a little bit more movement passes, but he’s still a rookie.”

Normally when looking ahead at a game it is common to say that a defense can take advantage of a rookie quarterback's inexperience. But Arians wouldn't commit to saying that they were counting on Jones being a rookie as an advantage

“I know he is a very bright guy and he’s been well-coached in college,” he said. “It’s a very hard position to play and I won’t say yes or no.”

“We look at their offense,” Arians added when asked if the lack of tape on Jones hurts Tampa's preparation, “they are not going to change what they are doing, it’s Pat’s offense, he’s just going to run it. For us, it’s trying to stop Saquon and force him to throw the ball.”

And Tampa's defensive game-plan is going to be centered on slowing down, if not stopping, Saquon Barkley. This will be the second elite running back Tampa has faced in as many weeks, but Barkley presents a different set of challenges than Christian McCaffery.

Arians said, “It’s a little bit different style of running game, I think that Saquon is one of those guys that he’s on another planet with his size, speed and also his pass-catching ability. McCaffrey is a different style of runner, but they are both very dangerous. I think Saquon is probably the best in the league right now.”

When Jones takes the field for the Giants, his receiving corps will look fairly different than the one that took the field against the Buffalo Bills. 

While Cody Latimer is in the concussion protocol and Bennie Fowler is dealing with a hamstring injury, the Giants are getting Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton back from the concussion protocol and a hamstring injury, respectively.

Giants' wide receivers' coach Tyke Tolbert is thrilled to get both players back. 

“It’s great,” he said. “Anytime you can add another playmaker, a dynamic playmaker like Shep [Sterling Shepard], to get back out there for us, it’s going to help us. We’re excited to have him back.”

He's also excited for the Giants to get Slayton's speed on the field after missing it for most of the pre-season and the first two regular-season games. Tolbert said “I’m always excited when you have speed on the field and to see it translate to big plays. I’m always excited about that.”

He added, “He [Slayton] has a dimension in our room, on our team, that really no one else has and that’s that speed. If you line up our entire team on the goal line and tell them to run a race, 

"Slayton will probably win 10 out of 10 times. He has that speed, that dimension, that we’ve been missing. Hopefully, we can get him back as quickly as possible and get him in the game so he can make some big plays for us.”

While Slayton is expected to play, he hasn't had much of a presence on the practice field this summer or thus far in the regular season. But while his on-field work has been limited, Tolbert is confident in the work Slayton is putting in on the mental side of the game.

“I’m confident because he’s in every meeting, he’s in every practice and he hears all of the corrections from other receivers. I ask him more questions in our meetings than probably anybody just to make sure he’s on top of everything so he’s on it mentally. He’s out there running around pretty well right now. We’re excited to get him back and see if he’s ready to go on Sunday.”

And if Slayton is cleared as a “full go” for Sunday's game, Tolbert has every confidence that he will be playing at full speed.

"I have full confidence in our training staff, so when they tell me a guy is ready to go full speed, I’m putting him out there, Tolbert said.

"We’re excited to have him back out there. Once he gets out there, he’ll be 100%. I’ll have full confidence in him to go out there and do that. I’m not concerned about him doing anything else, because if it happens, it happens. We’ll put somebody else in there like we’ve been doing.”