EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The weather was cloudy and calm here, but that didn't preclude the two most prominent members of the Giants football operation from using the word "storms." But they were not discussing the weather.
Coach Joe Judge, asked about Daniel Jones winning the NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award, said as part of a lengthy response, "I've seen him weather a lot of storms."
Jones was cited by the NFL after throwing for a career-high 402 yards and two touchdown passes longer than 50 yards in the Giants' 27-21 overtime triumph on Sunday in New Orleans, their first victory of the season after three losses.
When it was Jones' turn to field questions from the media after practice, he was asked what Judge was referring to.
"I don't know, I mean, we haven't won enough games – that's no secret – the first two years, and obviously this season didn't start how we wanted it to or expected it to," Jones said. "Those are storms we've all had to weather, and we've got to continue to progress, continue to improve. I think it was a big win for us, but it's over now and our focus is on Dallas and making sure we're prepared this week."
Jones played his finest game of the season in winning his second career player of the week award and his first since his NFL starting debut as a rookie two years ago. He completed 28 of 40 passes (70%), exceeded 300 passing yards for the first time since the 2019 season finale and led an offense that scored 17 late points to overcome an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Judge was asked if winning the award might help Jones' "psyche" or "confidence."
"When someone gets an award like that, that's a team award," Judge said. "Any time a quarterback gets an award, that starts with the protection (Jones was not sacked in the game). That starts with the skill players being able to make plays with the ball in their hands. It starts with the defense and the kicking game giving field position and opportunities to get the ball back and make plays. Obviously, what he's done is he's capitalized on the opportunities and that's what we preach to all of our players. You can't force when the opportunity comes your way, but you have to handle it the right way when it does. He obviously has done that. He's put our team in a position to have success. I see him improving every day.
"In terms of just national awards improving someone's psyche, I've seen this guy weather a lot of storms already. In our short time together, I've seen him weather a lot of storms. In terms of anything on the outside influencing him, if he's going to go ahead and have this make him feel good, what's it going to be when it crashes down the other way? This guy does a good job of just making sure he stays focused on what the task at hand is and move forward every week."
Judge was asked to cite any examples of storms Jones has weathered.
"I'm not going to go into the specific details," Judge said. "But this kid's pretty mentally tough. In terms of handling any outside influence, positive or negative, I've seen this guy already just go ahead, come in and be unfazed and unaffected, and make sure he influences the team the right way internally."
The issues Jones is dealing with are similar to those faced by all young quarterbacks still in the early proving phase of their careers. It's on a greater scale for him because he plays in the nation's largest media market. Jones concedes the scrutiny has made him mentally tougher.
"Yeah, I think so," he said. "I think it's hard to win in this league and it doesn't come easy. It comes with a lot of hard work and preparation. I think it's taught that lesson more than anything. That's important every week, like I said. Now the focus is preparing this week and making sure we're prepared to play on Sunday."
View photos of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones throughout his NFL career.
Jones has started 30 games, less than two full seasons. He provides evidence of his growth every week. Just one of Jones' 144 passes this year has been intercepted, the lowest total among the 15 quarterbacks with at least 140 attempts. He leads the team and is third among all quarterbacks with 188 rushing yards, and his 7.0-yard average is the highest among the 72 players with more than 15 carries. Jones' 1,372 combined passing and rushing yards place him fifth in the NFL, behind Derek Carr (1,418), Jalen Hurts (1,393), Kyler Murray (1,382) and Tom Brady (1,379).
In New Orleans, Jones had numerous receivers to choose from. Kenny Golladay (six receptions for 116 yards), first-round draft choice Kadarius Toney (six for 78 yards) and Saquon Barkley (52 rushing yards, plus five receptions for 74 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown) each had their most productive game of the season. Speedy John Ross caught three passes for 77 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown, in his Giants debut.
"Obviously, we made some plays pushing the ball down the field the other day, that was something we saw from their defense that we were able to make plays on," Judge said. "Daniel did a good job getting the ball out to receivers. They did a good job protecting up front to give us the time to get the ball downfield."
Jones said he did not see a significant difference in the offense compared to the first three weeks when he watched the tape of the New Orleans game.
"I think the biggest thing was executing it," Jones said. "I thought we executed it better on the field. I think there have been opportunities that we haven't executed as well early on and we were able to do that. That's a credit to – you know we talked about the guys up front and the receivers who stepped up. It takes a whole group."
The Giants defeated the Saints without two of their top wide receivers, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, who missed the game with hamstring injuries. When they return, the Giants will have five or six wideouts to throw to, as well as Barkley and tight ends Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith.
"I think the depth at that position is big for us and a lot of guys are coming in and doing a lot of different things well," Jones said. "Kind of playing to their skillset, giving them opportunities, calling plays based on what they do well, and I think you saw that. (We were) able to highlight a lot of those guys, so that was big. Those guys stepped up. John obviously stepped up and a lot of those guys, so that was big for us."
The wideouts enabled the Giants to weather the storm in, fittingly, New Orleans.
*Because the Giants had two walk-throughs today, their injury report is a projection of player availability if they had practiced fully.
Six players would not have participated: wide receivers Sterling Shepard (hamstring) and Darius Slayton (hamstring), tight end Kaden Smith (knee), tackle Andrew Thomas (foot), defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee) and safety Jabrill Peppers (hamstring).
Four players were listed as limited: running back Saquon Barkley (knee), wide receiver Kenny Golladay (groin), guard Ben Bredeson (hand) and safety Nate Ebner (quad). Wide receiver C.J. Board (clavicle) would have been a full participant.