EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The first report of the week on Daniel Jones' condition was positive, but Brian Daboll wasn't prepared to declare his quarterback good to go for the Giants' game Sunday night in Buffalo.
"I'd say we're optimistic," Daboll said on a virtual news conference Monday. "He's feeling better today, so think he's moving in the right direction. See where he is, obviously, when he comes back on Wednesday. But he doesn't feel terrible today.
"I want to get back upstairs and meet with the trainers and the doctors. Having talked to him, he said he's feeling probably better than maybe he thought he'd feel. So, I'm just going to hold off until I get an update and go through that but optimistic after talking to him."
Answering a follow-up question, Daboll clarified his optimism is "about this week."
Jones suffered a neck injury when he was sacked by Andrew Van Ginkel with 12:11 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Giants' 31-16 loss to the Dolphins in Hard Rock Stadium. Jones was immediately replaced by Tyrod Taylor and did not return. After the game, Jones said "my neck is sore."
Any neck injury creates concern, but particularly with Jones. He missed the final six games of the 2021 season after injuring his neck in a Nov. 28 game vs. Philadelphia.
"They're all different," Jones said of the injuries. "I don't know exactly what it is yet."
Jones has been sacked 16 times in two games, including 10 times last Monday night against Seattle. In five games, Jones has absorbed 28 sacks, the second-highest total in the league behind Washington's Sam Howell's 29.
"It's tough to see, man," tight end Darren Waller said. "A dude that's as tough as that, you know he's gonna pop back up time after time after time, but you still don't want to see that, especially having your quarterback or any guy on your team down and potentially had to be out. Nobody wants to see that,man. It's a violent, unforgiving game sometimes, but just praying that it's nothing serious with him."
When a quarterback is under constant duress, it can be difficult to accurately gauge how well he's playing. In Miami, Jones completed 14 of 20 passes for 119 yards and had neither a touchdown pass nor an interception.
One of his incompletions was a pinpoint throw that Waller admitted he should have caught for a touchdown.
"I think he made some good throws under a good amount of pressure," Daboll said. "I mean that throw that he made to Darren, he took a little punch step and was ready to throw it and there was somebody on him right now and he put it where he needed to put it. There were times where he had a little bit more time, the little double move to Waller, but I'd say he threw some balls under pressure and escaped and made some plays. Certainly, have to do a good job of protecting him."
Daboll said a long sideline throw to Darius Slayton in which the receiver was unable to stay in bounds was "very, very close. Daniel is a very tough competitor, and he took some shots."
Slayton said the receivers "definitely" could have provided more help to Jones.
"I think mine, I was close," Slayton said. "I'm not sure how close I was, but I'm sure I could have tried to drag and fall. And I'm sure Darren believes that he could have come down with that and that's all just steps we've got to make and plays we've got to make to help him out."
"I feel like the coaches gave me opportunities and that's all you can ask for," Waller said. "So, there's certain ones that I gottatake advantage of because you don't know what kind of momentum play that can be in the first half going into the second. I'll be thinking about that one. I'm grateful for the opportunities I do get."
The offensive line in general and the pass protection in particular have been heavily scrutinized this season. The Giants have used five different starting combinations in five games. Left tackle Andrew Thomas has missed four games with a hamstring injury and his loss has proven to be huge. His replacement, Joshua Ezeudu, spent training camp rotating between the two guard positions. Ezeudu was replaced by Matt Peart yesterday after Van Ginkel sacked Jones.
Center John Michael Schmitz missed the game with a shoulder injury. Ben Bredeson took his place and former right guard Mark Glowinski stepped in for Bredeson on the left side. Marcus McKethan started at right guard but left early with a knee injury, forcing Jalen Mayfield, a practice squad elevation, to play 45 snaps in his first regular-season action since 2021. Right tackle Evan Neal is the only lineman to start every game.
"That adds a different element," Bredeson said of the constant lineup changes. "Gelling is definitely something that's key with an offensive line, but this is why during training camp we had rotation and different combinations. It's something that we need to improve, and we obviously have different guys in there at different spots and we need to work on getting that gelling going as fast as possible."
Without reinforcements, what can the Giants do to improve the line?
"You have to get with them again this week, all of the guys, not just offensive line – everybody," Daboll said. "Obviously, we all need to improve. Coach them on the details, go out there, do what you need to do in practice and then have the confidence to go out there in the game to execute it."
*The status of the Giants' other two most important offensive players remains murky. Thomas hasn't played since the season opener a month ago, and running back Saquon Barkley has missed three games with a sprained ankle.
Daboll was asked to characterize his "level of hope" that they will face the Bills.
"I think that has yet to be determined here, so we'll see," Daboll said. "I think Saquon's probably closer than Andrew Thomas is."
*Asked about McKethan, Daboll said, "I'm optimistic for this week. But again, a lot can happen between now and when we get to play."
How about Schmitz and linebacker Micah McFadden, who was inactive yesterday with an ankle injury? "I'd say too early to tell on both those guys," Daboll said.
Wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, "will probably be down on Wednesday just because of his knee," Daboll said. "I don't think it'll be anything to keep him out of the game."