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Cover 3: Takeaways from Giants vs. Buccaneers

Three Giants.com writers discuss the biggest takeaways from the Giants’ 32-31 victory over the Buccaneers in Week 3:

John Schmeelk: When you evaluate quarterback play, there is always going to be good and bad. Daniel Jones, as great as his debut was, made some mistakes. But what he showed on Sunday should make fans extremely optimistic about his future as quarterback for the Giants.

As Pat Shurmur pointed out in his postgame press conference, there are things a quarterback can be trained to improve upon. A quarterback can be trained to protect the football when he is in the pocket. A quarterback can be trained to get the ball out quicker. A quarterback can be trained to make better decisions with the football.

Daniel Jones did things, however, that are innate and very difficult to teach. His natural ability to feel pressure and move in the pocket is impressive. The way he can read a defense, and quickly know the right place to go with the football is something most rookie quarterbacks are unable to do. The game seems to slow down for him, as he is able to calculate many variables in an extremely short period of time to get the ball where it needs to be. He carried his preseason performance to the regular season, despite the uptick in competition. Generally speaking, accuracy cannot be taught, and Jones is accurate.

Those kind of innate skills give a very high baseline of performance that should help Jones as his career continues. How high a level of quarterback he ends up being when all is said and done remains to be seen, but the Giants have someone that has the innate skills necessary to be special. The fun part will be watching him try to get there.

Dan Salomone: Now is not the time for “I told you so.” That will come later if Daniel Jones keeps it up. There’s no reason to think he can’t, but the best part of the rookie’s first start was the victory. Yes, his poise was evident to the most untrained eye, his throws were on point, and his running added a new dynamic. The Giants, however, would have passed on his skillset if they didn’t believe it led to wins.

Critics, if there are any left, will call it luck after Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the Giants’ one-point victory. He wouldn’t have felt the pressure if Jones didn’t lead the Giants on a 10-play, 75-yard drive in which he completed five of seven passes for 68 yards before he ran in the go-ahead touchdown with 1:16 left in the game. The Giants sealed their first victory of the year. This team is thirsty for wins, not flash. Jones looks like he can provide both. At least, he did for one game.

Lance Medow: The biggest storyline is clearly Daniel Jones’ impressive performance in his first career start, and rightfully so, but don’t overlook what the weapons around him did to aid that effort. In the first two games, the Giants’ offense was plagued by several mental mistakes, including dropped passes and penalties. While no game is perfect, those issues didn’t haunt Big Blue in Week 3. Instead, it was the extra effort and explosive plays that stood out. Evan Engram topped the list as he posted his second 100-yard receiving game with a touchdown in the first three weeks of the season, highlighted by a 75-yard catch-and-run to ignite the offense on the very first possession of the third quarter. Engram also had a sensational one-handed grab on the first drive of the game to convert a third-and-six from the Buccaneers 26. It helped set up an Aldrick Rosas 36-yard field goal.

In addition to Engram, Darius Slayton went above and beyond the X’s and O’s in his regular-season debut. Most impressively, the rookie wide receiver made a great block on Engram’s long touchdown in the third quarter. He also hauled in a 46-yard reception that highlighted an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that came on the Giants’ second possession of the third quarter. Those two scoring drives were critical in helping overcome an 18-point deficit. Slayton finished with three receptions for 82 yards and Sterling Shepard reached the century mark for the first time this season on seven catches, including the touchdown reception that punctuated that 80-yard touchdown drive in the third. Not sure if that grab was even Shepard’s most impressive play, given he also connected with Jones for 36 yards to help move the Giants into the red zone on their last possession that resulted in Jones’ go-ahead seven-yard rushing touchdown. Several players won their one-on-one battles and made key plays for the quarterback. That was just as important as Jones’ decision-making and toughness in the victory over Tampa Bay and a big reason why the Giants executed so well in the red zone.

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