EAST RUTHERFORD N.J. – When the Giants lost to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Daniel Jones' record as the team's starting quarterback fell to 3-12 – and put him in a club with some of the very best players at his position in NFL history.
Numerous prominent quarterbacks have found greatness after enduring a rocky start to their careers. Their struggles at the outset were due to any number of factors.
Jones is the first to concede his turnover rate (two a game this season) is too high and his passer rating (69.2) is too low. As Jones said after the 36-9 loss to the Niners, "I need to do a better job and that's something I'm focused on."
Not everyone has an NFL beginning like Patrick Mahomes, who plays in one of the league's most productive offenses and who essentially served a one-year apprenticeship and didn't step onto the field until the final game of his rookie season.
Peyton Manning was the No. 1 overall selection in the 1998 NFL Draft – and promptly started 3-13. The following year, he led the Indianapolis Colts to a 13-3 record. When Manning retired after the 2015 season, his career regular-season record was 186-79 (.702)
Several other prominent quarterbacks had three or fewer victories in their first 15 starts, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Warren Moon, Dan Fouts, Fran Tarkenton and Bart Starr, plus Vinny Testaverde and Archie Manning.
Of course, Jones likely needs more support from the Giants' ground game for the team's and his fortunes to begin rising. His 92 rushing yards make him the team's leading rusher by 58 yards over Saquon Barkley, who is out for the season with a knee injury. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jones has the most rushing yards by a Giants quarterback through three games in the Super Bowl era.
Jones joins Baltimore's Lamar Jackson – who has run for 182 yards – as the only quarterbacks currently leading their teams in rushing.
On Sunday, Jones led the Giants with 49 yards on five carries. Both figures were the second-highest total of his brief career; he ran for 54 yards on six attempts vs. Dallas on Nov. 4, 2019. Jones also had five carries vs. Green Bay and Washington in 2019.
Jones has led the Giants in rushing four times in his last nine games dating back to last season: vs. the Cowboys and at the Jets a week later last season and in the Giants' home games against Pittsburgh and San Francisco this year. The only other quarterback to be his team's top rusher as often in the same period is Jackson, who has done it six times (including last night with 83 yards vs. Kansas City).
Jones ran for gains of 23 and 19 yards against the 49ers, the second and third-longest runs of his career; he ran for 26 yards at Chicago on Nov. 24, 2019.
View photos of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones throughout his NFL career.
*The Giants have rushed for 29, 75 and 66 yards to open the season, the first time they did not exceed 75 yards on the ground in each of three consecutive games since Sept. 10-24, 2017 vs. Dallas, Detroit and Philadelphia. Their total in the first three games that season was 146 yards, considerably less than the 170 the Giants currently have.
*Graham Gano kicked field goals of 52, 42 and 47 yards vs. San Francisco to become the second kicker in Giants history with three field goals longer than 40 yards in a regular-season game. On Dec. 22, 2013, Josh Brown kicked field goals of 41, 52 and 45 yards to become the first player in Giants history to accomplish the feat.
*Gano kicked at least three field goals in a regular-season game for the 37th time in his career, the sixth-highest total among active players.
*Three different 49ers rushed for touchdowns on Sunday – Jerick McKinnon, Brandon Aiyuk and Jeff Wilson, Jr. They were the first Giants opponent to have three players run for scores in the same game since Buffalo on Sept. 15, 2019, when Josh Allen, Devin Singletary and Frank Gore all ran for scores.
*San Francisco was the first Giants opponent that a) didn't punt, and b) didn't punt or commit a turnover since the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 13, 2008.
*The 49ers converted 67% of their third down opportunities (eight of 12), the highest percentage by a Giants opponent since Nov. 18, 2018, when Tampa Bay succeeded on six of nine tries (67%).
*Nick Mullens' 343 passing yards were the most by a quarterback against the Giants since Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston threw for 380 yards on Sept. 22, 2019.
*The game Sunday in Pittsburgh between the Steelers and Texans was the second in NFL history to feature a pair of brothers who had previously been named first-team All-Pro (J.J. and T.J. Watt). The Giants played in the first such game, against the Buccaneers on Oct. 29, 2006, when Tiki and Ronde Barber were the decorated brothers.