This is what the 0-3 Giants will be attempting to do with their season when they play the Rams on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif.
It, too, is what their quarterback Daniel Jones must do with the football if the Giants are able to hold onto whatever sliver of hope remains to their 2020 season.
Jones, in his second year, has been a turnover machine since the moment he was handed the keys to the Giants’ offense last season.
In his 16 career games, Jones has an eye-popping 10 games with multiple turnovers, which is the most in the NFL since the beginning of last season. He was intercepted 12 times last season and fumbled 18 times, losing 11 of those. That’s 23 turnovers in 12 starts.
In three games this season, he has been intercepted four times and lost two fumbles. That’s 15 NFL starts and 29 turnovers. An impossible winning combination. It’s of little surprise his career record as a starter is 3-12.
Jones’ six turnovers in three games this season have him on pace for 32, which is death by dumb mistakes for his team.
“It’s something that I’m mindful of every day in my preparation and have to continue to work on,’’ Jones said this week. “It makes it harder to win when we’re turning the ball over and I can’t afford to do that.’’
Coach Joe Judge on Friday said of his quarterback’s work this week: “I love his response. This guy is coming in laser focused.’’
Receiver Darius Slayton, Jones’ favorite target, said on Friday: “He came out poised, ready to practice, ready to work. I know he’s not going to be shaken by whatever, our slow start or what have you.’’
What’s perhaps most alarming about this ongoing problem is the fact Jones made every effort in the offseason to curb the problem by bulking up to become stronger and withstand the hate and heat in the pocket, and by working with a personal quarterbacks coach designed to help with ball security.
Yet, despite all of the offseason work, the same things continue to happen, and it’s killing the Giants, who are just flawed enough in other areas (read: defense) that they cannot withstand their quarterback giving the ball away.
“I certainly didn’t expect it going into the season; it’s something I’ve worked hard on to improve,’’ Jones said.
Jones says and does all the right things. It’s pretty clear to everyone around him that he’s smart, conscientious and committed. But smart, conscientious and committed doesn’t win football games when the ball is constantly turned over.
Another New York quarterback who played in these parts a few years ago named Mark Sanchez, like Jones, said and tried to do all the right things. Yet he spent his career dispensing turnovers faster than pharmacies selling hand sanitizer in the COVID-19 era.
Sanchez, who ended his career with 89 interceptions to his 86 touchdown passes, never stopped turning the ball over despite all of his efforts to curb it. And subsequently, the flame in a career that began as the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft and included AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two seasons, was extinguished far too soon, because coaches could no longer trust him to protect the pigskin.
In Sanchez’s four seasons as the Jets starter, spanning 62 starts, he was intercepted 69 times. He also fumbled the ball 29 times and lost 17 of those. That’s 86 turnovers in 62 starts. Jones is on pace to produce similar numbers.
This is not to compare Jones and Sanchez and their respective skill sets. It’s meant to illustrate where Jones is right now.
Until Jones stops giving the ball away, he’ll be in danger of walking the same precarious path Sanchez did before eventually no team wanted him as its quarterback anymore because he couldn’t be trusted.
“I don’t think it’s a rare thing for young players who play quarterback to have these issues,’’ Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said this week. “Daniel has a chance to be a really good player. He has all the physical tools. He has all the intangibles you want. He works hard at it, he’s tough, physically and mentally, and I think this is just something that the more he plays, hopefully the better he gets at it.’’
It is early — 16 games into a promising career for Jones. But in this league, it can get late early pretty quickly.
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