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Fact or Fiction: Best game of Daniel Jones' career?

FACT-OR-FICTION

The Giants.com crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

Last week was the best game of quarterback Daniel Jones' career

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Jones had a great game running the football and didn't turn it over while leading the Giants to a playoff berth, but it was not the best game of his career. He was efficient but threw for fewer than 200 yards. He had a pass early in the game that hit off a Colts player's face mask and could have been intercepted. He completed no passes that traveled 20+ yards in the air and only completed three that traveled 10+ yards in the air. Jones was a leader, showed great toughness and was accurate and efficient in the passing game although he has had other games where he exhibited those qualities and was explosive in the passing game. Just look at his game against Washington from his rookie season when he completed two-thirds of his passes for 352 yards, five touchdowns, and five completions of 25+ yards on December 22nd, 2019. The stakes were not nearly as high, but it was certainly a more impressive passing performance than what we saw last Sunday.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Like Brian Daboll said in the postgame locker room, "It's not a one-man show, but that [bleeping] quarterback played good."

Lance Medow: Fact – If you take into consideration Daniel Jones' efficiency in the passing game and his versatility as a runner, then last Sunday's win tops the list. He completed 79% of his passes (third-highest mark of his career) and threw for two touchdowns to go along with 91 rushing yards (fourth-highest total of his career) and two scores. Jones showcased a balanced attack against the Colts and did damage as both a passer and runner to continually put pressure on Indy's defense. The Week 7 game vs. the Jaguars when he ran for a career-high 107 yards is another strong candidate but he was much more efficient in the passing attack against the Colts.

Matt Citak: Fact – During his rookie season, Jones had three different games with 300+ passing yards and 4+ total touchdowns. However, last week's performance takes the crown as the best of his young career. Jones completed 79.2 percent of his passes for 177 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 125.2 and added an incredible 91 yards on 11 carries (8.3 avg.) and two additional scores. It's safe to assume those numbers would have been even higher if the game was competitive, but Jones' was removed midway through the fourth quarter as the Giants held a 38-10 lead. Jones left the field to a standing ovation and the MetLife crowd chanting his name, which was fully deserved after the career performance.

Safety Xavier McKinney getting healthy is the most encouraging story line on defense heading into the postseason

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Adoree Jackson's health is the most important and encouraging story line for the Giants' defense heading into the playoffs. With a likely first-round playoff matchup against the Vikings looming, he will be needed in the worst way to help cover Justin Jefferson, who is probably the best wide receiver in the NFL. You need good man cover cornerbacks in Wink Martindale's defense, and Jackson is the best player at it on the roster.

Dan Salomone: Fact – He wasn't the sole reason, but it's no coincidence that the Giants' post-bye week slump coincided with McKinney's absence. The team is 7-2 with him on the field and 2-4-1 with him off it this season.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Xavier McKinney returning to the field last Sunday provided a nice boost for the defense but you can the same when Adoree Jackson gets back on the field as well; although let's put Jackson's potential return slightly ahead of McKinney given he's one of the most experienced corners on the roster. Regardless of who the Giants see in the wild card round, they'll be tested by opposing wide receivers and that's where Jackson's presence becomes extremely valuable. Even though he was listed as doubtful entering the Colts game last week, he's been practicing on a limited basis so that's encouraging with the postseason around the corner.

Matt Citak: Fact – McKinney made his long-awaited return to the field this past weekend and immediately made an impact. He finished second on the team with seven total tackles along with a pass breakup. The third-year safety is one of the most talented players on the defense, and having him back on the field provides a significant boost to the secondary. But equally as important are the returns of Adoree' Jackson and Azeez Ojulari. The latter played just seven snaps after injuring his ankle in Week 16, but the fact that he was on the field at all is certainly an encouraging sign. If Jackson can also get back on the field either this weekend or next, the defense will be as close to full-health as it has been since the start of the season.

The offense not allowing a sack in two of the past three games is the unit's most encouraging characterics

John Schmeelk: Fiction – This is encouraging, but the overall efficiency of the offense, and the offense's ability to sustain drives is the bigger story. Yes, it is important they did not allow any sacks to Washington or Indianapolis but that was a big product of how the Giants schemed the passing game to get the ball out quickly, move the pocket and utilize play-action. In the game between those two contests, they did allow three sacks to the Vikings and Danielle Hunter was in the backfield all game. In the Giants' past six quarters they have punted the ball only twice. They've had only one three-and-out. Only one other drive has gone fewer than five plays, the one ending on Darius Slayton' fumble against Indianapolis. The Giants are running it, passing it, and showing a balance and efficiency we haven't seen all season. Let's see if they can keep that up against a strong Eagles defense that has topped six sacks for five consecutive weeks.

Dan Salomone: Fact – They were also the two most important game of the season – Sunday night in Washington and the playoff-clincher last week. The Giants are starting to hit their stride in multiple areas.

Lance Medow: Fiction – You can't overlook this development as the Giants' offensive line surrendered no sacks against two solid defensive fronts in the Commanders and Colts. That's certainly promising given the caliber of the pass rush they'll see in the playoffs but let's go with the overall offensive production the last two weeks. We haven't seen the level of consistency in terms of total yards and points in a two-game stretch all season until Weeks 16-17. The Giants recoded 445 total yards and 24 points in Minnesota before piling up 394 yards and 38 points (31 by the offense) against Indy - it was the first time they scored at least 30 points since Week 5, 2020 (a span of 43 games). New York has also racked up 49 first downs in the last two games. Numbers like that are by far the most encouraging storyline because if you're going to compete against the top teams in the NFC, you're going to have to put points on the board.

Matt Citak: Fiction – The O-line's protection of Daniel Jones is definitely a promising sign as the Giants head into the postseason. However, the most encouraging story line on offense is easily the standout play of the fourth-year quarterback. Jones is in the midst of a record-breaking season, both personally and in Giants history. His 3,205 passing yards, 92.5 passer rating, 67.2 completion percentage and 708 rushing yards are all the highest of his four-year career. The completion percentage would set a franchise record, beating Eli Manning's 66.0 percent from 2018, while Jones' 1.06 interception percentage this year would also set a new franchise mark. No Giants QB has ever thrown as many passes with so few interceptions (five picks in 472 passes). Of course, the O-line providing him good protection has played a significant role in his strong production, but Jones must be commended for his improved play this season.

Among players who were not on the initial 53-man roster, linebacker Landon Collins will be the most impactful addition in the postseason

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Landon Collins showed up big the last couple games of the season, but he still isn't a full-time player. Isaiah Hodgins is. With his size, route running ability and reliable hands, Hodgins has developed into a trusted target for Daniel Jones in the passing game in the short and intermediate areas in the middle of the field. If they play Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs, he will be essential to the team's success. The Vikings struggle to defend the middle of the field using their matchup-zone coverage, and Hodgins took advantage of that on Christmas Eve when he finished the game with eight catches for 89 yards.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Wink Martindale said this week that Collins was put in a "humbling position" but just kept work and working. Last week, he broke through. "He calls himself a hybrid now if you want to know," Martindale said of Collins, who is now listed as an inside linebacker instead of safety. "I told him not one of whatever those little hybrids are, it's got be a sports car hybrid if there's such a thing."

Lance Medow: Fiction – You can put Landon Collins near the top of the list as he's made his presence felt over the last few weeks but so has Isaiah Hodgins and he's a big reason why production has picked up a bit in the passing attack, which will be key moving forward. Hodgins has scored a touchdown in four of the last five games and has built great chemistry with Daniel Jones since being thrown in the mix following the bye in Week 10. The rapport between those two seems to get stronger each week. If the Giants are going to compete with the top teams in the conference, they need to be able to move the ball consistently and finish drives. Hodgins has answered the call in those departments.

Matt Citak: Fact – This one was close, as Isaiah Hodgins belongs right up there with Collins in this debate with his touchdowns in four of the last five games. But Collins gets the nod due to the spark he's provided the defense over the last two weeks. Collins had a sack and pass defensed against the Vikings before his Pick 6 against the Colts, and appears to have stabilized the inside linebacker position alongside Jaylon Smith. Collins has allowed just four receptions for 18 yards on 10 targets and 84 coverage snaps, earning a passer rating against of just 8.3. The veteran has provided steady production in addition to the big plays, and will likely play a big role in the team's potential postseason success.

View photos from the Giants' Week 17 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

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