EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Daniel Jones didn't play his best career game Monday night, but he performed admirably under adverse conditions, said the man who must make those evaluations.
Persistently pressured by the Dallas Cowboys' defensive front, Jones completed 20 of 37 passes for 196 yards. He threw an interception on the Giants' final offensive play after intended receiver David Sills slipped to the ground. Jones was sacked five times and absorbed 12 hits. He also ran for 79 yards on nine carries, many of them unscheduled after the Cowboys chased Jones from the pocket.
The Giants left MetLife Stadium with their first defeat of the young season, 23-16, but coach Brian Daboll was impressed with his quarterback's performance.
"I think he's made steps each game," Daboll said today in his postmortem. "I thought he played well yesterday. He was under some duress. He escaped. He made some loose plays. He did some things with his feet. He made some good throws. He competed his tail off. I thought all the guys competed. I thought we played hard, and we competed for 60 minutes. We just lacked on some other things that caused us to have the result that we had.
"I thought he was really good on the sideline. Again, I think he's improved every game. He's really improved every practice, and he was a good leader out there. And he competed as hard as he could compete and gave us a chance."
He did so despite rarely benefitting from a clean pocket. DeMarcus Lawrence led Dallas' charge with 3.0 sacks. Dorance Armstrong and Donovan Wilson each had a sack and two quarterback hits.
In three games, Jones has been sacked 13 times, trailing only Washington's Carson Wentz and Cincinnati's Joe Burrow (15 apiece).
"Yesterday wasn't just the line," Daboll said. "Were there some plays that we got beat? Yeah. There were. I think everybody can do better. All of us, altogether. There was some stuff inside, like I said some games, some edge stuff. We can chip better. We can stay on a little bit longer. I think (offensive coordinator) Mike (Kafka) was trying to – we were going quick at times, trying to throw it quick, use seven-man protection. We used jams on I don't know how many snaps. It was a lot. We can help in that area too and be better in those areas – whether it be tight end with the backs. Again, it was a good front. They got the best of us, and we're going to have to continue to keep working to get better."
The Giants would prefer Jones have an opportunity to play without so much pressure from the opposing team. But how he responds to it is all part of the unending assessment of the quarterback.
"You never want that to happen," Daboll said. "But that's a good evaluation to get, too, particularly on a quarterback when they're under pressure or things aren't always perfect and how you can ad lib and make plays when it's not just exactly like it is on the play diagram. I thought he did that well.
"I think what we try to do each week is just see where we're at for that week – evaluate the performance. Again, we evaluate the performances on past, but I thought he made good strides. Obviously not scoring enough points, and we left some plays out there on the field. But the job that he did in terms of running the offense, handling things when things weren't always perfect. The last play he threw that pick, but it really wasn't on him. I thought that he's making improvement. I think that's important as we go throughout the season."
View photos from the Giants' Week 3 game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
*Lawrence slipped past rookie right tackle Evan Neal on each of his three sacks. How can the Giants help improve the seventh overall selection in this year's draft?
"We just keep on building the technique," Daboll said. "There's growing pains. I would say it's not just Ev, which he got beat a couple times on the edge by a pretty good player. There were a lot of things we could have done better. And protection-wise after going through it, whether it's the chips, the (running) backs, one-one-ones against the blitzers, the inside movement, the games inside. There was quite a bit of things. But Evan's a diligent guy. We'll work on improving him and try to be better next week."
*Rookie outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux – taken two spots ahead of Neal in the draft - played 37 snaps in his NFL debut, while second-year pro Azeez Ojulari participated in 30 plays in his first 2022 action.
They each had one tackle and zero quarterback hits.
"They did a good job of blocking us," Daboll said. "There were a couple in there that we had. Again, they were on their pitch count. I thought they gave good effort. Thibs' first game as a pro. Did some good things, but some things we definitely need to get better and work at. But give Dallas credit, too. They did a good job of blocking us."
*The Giants had just 10 players on the field when Ezekiel Elliott tied the game with a one-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
"On that play on the goal line (defensive coordinator), Wink (Martindale) called for a personnel group, and there was one player that didn't go in," Daboll said. "We need to do a good job of listening to the play caller's instructions and go in and be ready to go."
View photos of the Giants commemorating the 2022 Ring of Honor class during halftime of the Week 3 matchup against the Cowboys.