New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones see eye-to-eye on one key factor.
They both think Jones has made steady progress since Shurmur made Jones the starting quarterback after the second game.
There have been predictable struggles for Jones – turnovers being at the top of the list – but there have been enough good signs to indicate that the Giants made the right decision when they drafted him sixth overall out of Duke.
The Giants have a three-game losing streak going into Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, and Jones is coming off one of his worst performances of the season. He had an interception and lost two of his three fumbles in last week’s 27-21 loss at home to the Arizona Cardinals.
Despite those miscues, Jones told reporters this week that he’s making improvement.
“In some plays, in certain situations, I’ve made progress,” he said. “And In others, I haven’t.
“That’s the challenge – to keep making progress, and to make progress throughout the game, throughout the situation – whatever it is – to continue to improve on everything.”
Meet this week's opponents, the New York Giants.
It was a matter of “when,” not “if,” Jones would take over for veteran Eli Manning as the starter, and that time came in Week 3 after the Giants lost their first two games.
Jones gave the Giants an immediate lift. He threw two TD passes without a pick in a win over the Bucs and had one touchdown against two picks in a win over Washington.
He’s had an interception in each game of the losing streak, three of them against the Patriots.
Shurmur, who grew up in Dearborn and played and coached at Michigan State, sees Jones facing the same challenges other rookie quarterbacks do in making the transition to the speed of the pro game.
“I think there are things he does in each game he improves on in terms of familiarity with the offense, the speed of the game,” Shurmur said in a conference-call interview. “I still think he’s an aggressive thrower.”
Jones also has adapted to handling the pressure of being the focal point of the team.
“It’s very natural for him to lead,” Shurmur said. “He works hard to do the right thing. He’s got courage to speak when he sees something that needs to get fixed. He’s a very talented young man that’s fighting through an NFL season like every young player.”
Barkley back: Lions safety Tavon Wilson referred to Saquon Barkley as a “home run hitter” when asked about facing the Giants’ star running back.
Barkley had 18 carries for 72 yards, with a long run of 20 yards, in last week’s loss to the Cardinals. It was Barkley’s first game back after missing three full games and part of another because of a high right ankle sprain sustained in Week 3.
As a rookie last season Barkley lived up to his billings as the NFL’s next great running back by rushing for 1,307 yards, 11 TD and an average of 5.0 yards per carry. He added 91 catches for 721 yards and four TDs.
Barkley said he felt good against the Cardinals, even after he took a hit on the ankle and left the game briefly.
“Someone landed on it,” Barkley said. “I knew that was part of the healing process. That’s part of football.
“I felt good. I was able to take my normal workload. Physically, I feel good. We didn’t win. I’m never satisfied with that.”
Giant steps: They’ve gotten their 2-5 won-loss record with mini-streaks – two losses, two wins, and their current three-game losing streak.
Discrepancy in third-down conversions has been a key stat in their wins and losses.
With Eli Manning at quarterback in the first two games, the Giants had conversion rates of 2-for-11 and 3-for-12.
With Jones as the starter, the Giants won the next two games and had conversion rates of 6-for-13 and 8-for-13. In the first game of the three-game losing streak, they had a conversion rate of 8-for-16, but it fell off to 2-for-10 and 4-for-12 in the next two.
Bottom line: Sustaining drives obviously helps the offense, but it also keeps the defense off the field.