EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Daniel Jones was angry, so Pat Shurmur was pleased.
Because Jones is the Giants' rookie quarterback and Shurmur is his head coach, it's probable that specific union of emotions will be a rare occurrence. But it happened yesterday, when Jones threw his first interception of training camp. In a red zone drill, he was picked off by a fellow 2019 draft choice, Corey Ballentine. And Jones' displeasure was obvious.
"He was pissed," Shurmur said today. "So yeah, I'm good with that."
"I certainly wasn't happy about it," Jones said. "It's going to happen, that's part of playing the game. Corey made a heck of a play there, definitely something to learn for me from that. I can be sooner making that decision, probably put the ball a little higher in the back of the end zone. Definitely not happy about it, but something to learn."
Jones has progressed each workday since he reported for rookie minicamp in May, two weeks after the Giants selected him sixth overall in the NFL Draft. That process has accelerated in the first two weeks of training camp. Jones has a deep understanding of the offense, is learning what the defense is trying to do, and most often makes the correct decision where to throw the ball. But not on the play in which Ballentine intercepted his second pass of camp.
The former Duke quarterback has made mistakes in camp. Jones was asked why that one seemed to stick with him.
"Well, I think just the situation," he said. "A turnover in the red zone is a costly mistake and we talk about that a lot, scoring points in the red zone, touchdowns. Making sure we are getting points. Anytime we turn it over in the red zone, that's a costly mistake. I think that had something to do with it. I think in a lot of those situations, there is a lot to learn from. That situation right there is the reason for the reaction."
Shurmur has coached NFL quarterbacks for almost 20 years, so he saw more positives in the play than Jones did.
"When we look at that play in total, it was an aggressive throw downfield," Shurmur said. "That's the thing, when you're grading the quarterback, when non-coaches are grading the quarterback, they look at it one way. I look at it as that was an aggressive throw and you want that. You just maybe want him to put it in a better spot or whatever. Put it just where the defender can't quite get it as well as Corey did. But Corey made a nice play on it. It's aggressive. He took a shot at the end zone. It was a touchdown, not a check down mentality. It was an interception. You learn from it and move on."
Jones has demonstrated an even temperament on and off the field, but he will occasionally step out of character, particularly after getting picked off in the end zone.
"I get can fired up on the field," he said. "I think usually I have pretty good control of that, I think I do on the field also. I think when something like that happens, it's going to get you going a little bit. As long as it doesn't take away from how you are playing and your decision making, I think that's natural."
Jones has taken most of the second-team snaps, with Eli Manning working with the first team. Rookies often talk about the speed of the NFL game compared to what they experienced in college, but Jones has adjusted well.
"It's slowed down to some extent," Jones said. "I still think I'm learning a lot, I wouldn't say that in terms of my development or my progress, it's still pretty early in the development. Maybe that's just the reads and seeing the defense. You know the defense is going to put something in new the next day. I think it's a constant process and learning and adapting and learning on the fly for me right now. Still slowing down.
"As we've gotten a little bit further into camp, the defense has put in more different looks and a lot of stuff I haven't seen before. You're playing against an NFL defense that can do a lot of different things, so I think it's that, it's seeing and understanding the defense quickly, and kind of letting that lead you into your decision and into your progression. So, I think that to me has been a challenge."
Off the field, Jones is rooming with his former Atlantic Coast Conference rival and fellow first-round draft choice, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, who was asked what Jones is like.
"Probably how he is with you all, a little quiet," the former Clemson Tiger told reporters, "But I got him to open up more. He's accepting that I'm his roommate, and I talk a little trash. I asked him, 'Do you see us in your face all the time?' He said, 'No, because you all can't touch me,' or something like that. Just a little trash talk."
"Dexter's funny, I don't know if we will get into it," Jones said. "He's had a really good camp so far, it's fun watching him play. You can kind of see it when we talk every night, you can tell he's getting more comfortable and figuring out the defense and what they want him to do. It's not fun to play against, but it's fun to watch him and how well he's playing."
In addition to hearing from his roommate, Jones endured the traditional rookie rite of singing in front of his teammates.
"I tried, I put my best foot forward," Jones said. "First time I sang 'Wagon Wheel,' but that didn't go over great, so I tried 'Buy You a Drank' by T-Pain and got a little better response."
The young man is clearly learning to adjust on and off the field.
*Alex Wesley, a rookie free agent receiver from Northern Colorado, passed his physical and was activated off the physically unable to perform list.