It’s not every week when studying an opponent that the leading rusher is the quarterback.
But that’s the case for Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley as he gets his group ready for the visiting New York Giants.
Second-year pro Daniel Jones leads the Giants with 92 total rushing yards through three games, the fourth-most rushing yards by a quarterback in the NFL this season.
The Rams have already faced Dak Prescott (74 rushing yards), Carson Wentz (74) and Josh Allen (84).
At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Jones is the fourth straight big, athletic quarterback the Rams will face this year. The Duke product posted solid athletic numbers last year during he pre-draft process, running at 4.7-second, 40-yard time at his pro day and posting a 33.5-inch vertical jump at the NFL Scouting combine.
“It’s a real strength of his,” Staley said about Jones. “Against San Francisco, he had three carries over 15 yards and he was able to get the edge a few times. Then against Pittsburgh, Chicago – those are pretty good defenses. So, this guy has got real athleticism.
“It’s a big part of them moving the chains, especially on third down. As we’ve seen these first three weeks, and as you’ve seen throughout the NFL, the mobility and the creativity of these quarterbacks is where defensive football becomes really challenging and I think you’re seeing it throughout the NFL. It’s tough and a guy like Daniel, he certainly presents challenges for you.”
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Asked if his team will continue to lean on Jones running the football, Giants head coach Joe Judge had this to say.
“We’ll take production from anyone we can,” joked Judge.
Of course, Jones has struggled taking care of the football. He’s turned it over 29 times (16 interceptions, 13 fumbles) in 16 games. The Giants are 3-12 in his 15 starts over two seasons.
Jones has turned it over six times this year in the first three games, one of the reasons the Giants are off to an 0-3 start.
“That’s something I’m continuing to work on,” Jones told New York-area reporters this week. “It’s something that I’m mindful of every day in my preparation and have to continue to work on. It makes it hard for us to win when you turn the ball over, and I can’t afford to do that.”
Staley said one of the things his defense can learn in playing Allen last week is to do a better job of keeping athletic quarterbacks like Jones in the pocket and now allow them to extend plays.
“I thought we made it tough on him,” Staley said about his defense’s performance last week. “He (Allen) made a lot of good plays. This week, we’ll learn a lot from that. There are definitely some circumstances where we can tighten up our rush plan. Maybe add a fifth rusher at times six rusher to help with that. I take full ownership of that and moving forward, we’re really excited to get better.”