Mike Shula on How The Coaches Are Trying to Help Daniel Jones Reduce Turnovers
Giants' offensive coordinator Mike Shula has been pleased with the progress made by rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. But if there’s one glaring deficiency in Jones' game that Shula is hoping to help the rookie get cleaned up as soon as possible, it’s been his turnovers.
Jones committed three more turnovers last game losing two-fumbles (one returned for a touchdown) and throwing an interception just before halftime, which led to a Cowboys field goal. Jones now leads the league with 16 turnovers (eight interceptions, eight fumbles).
“We, as an offense, have to get the ball out faster when we’re throwing the ball. That’s when you’re most susceptible to turning the ball over, is when you’re throwing the ball, whether it’s a bad decision or a bad throw as an interception, or getting a sack, strip fumble in the pocket,” said Shula in diagnosing some of the issues Jones has had.
“We work hard on protecting the football when we’re not throwing it,” he added. “Keeping two hands on it. But you have to secure the ball.”
Shula is referring to the play on 3-and-6 when Jones dove forward into multiple defenders when trying to pick up the first down. As a result, Jones lost his first fumble of the game and put himself at risk by sacrificing his body to make a play.
“You’re trying to find the first down marker to make sure you get the first down. Then you’re trying to figure out how to fall, and suddenly, you have guys that are pretty good, maybe a little bit faster than what you’ve seen the last few years that can get to the ball quicker and know how to get the ball out.”
In addition to improving his ball security, Shula would like to see Jones approach those times when he has to make an open-field block a little wiser.
Against the Cowboys, the rookie put himself in harm’s way when he tried to serve as a lead blocker on a reverse. Jones absorbed a hard hit from Cowboys safety Xavier Woods but bounced back up after it was delivered.
“(He can) Just kind of close the cushion a little bit quicker,” Shula said. “He was kind of way out there in space, and then suddenly thought he could go one on one from about 40 yards with a defensive guy. But you can find ways as a quarterback to block and not have to do it like as a lead blocker with that much space between.”
While both issues need to be fixed, the turnovers are hurting the Giants by giving the opponent a short field or easy scores. So far this season, opponents have scored six touchdowns and five field goals off miscues by Jones, who, during his college career at Duke, lost the ball 54 times in his career.
“The biggest thing is when you’re in the pocket, and you’re not throwing the ball until you’re throwing the ball, keep two hands on it,” Shula said. "Obviously, you want to keep it in front. But there are sometimes you can’t help it. The best way you can get it where you’re not getting the ball stripped out is to get the ball out faster.
“That’s not just the quarterback; that’s us,” he added. “That’s designing plays where the ball gets out faster, getting open faster, protecting a little bit longer, getting your reads quicker—all of those things come into it.”
Shula is hopeful that time and lots of reps will help Jones overcome this and other struggles.
“You have to kind of keep preaching it. Then when you research it further, you say ‘Hey, well, stay out of long-yardage situations. That’s when you’re most susceptible to it.’ So, all those things combined.”