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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for Week 4

Daniel Jones’ ability to run was more impressive than his arm in his first NFL start.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – A quarterback running the ball is a nice complement to what he does as a thrower. What Jones did as a passer, specifically from a mental standpoint, was impressive. Despite seeing a number of different looks, Jones never looked confused by the Buccaneers defense. He always knew where coverage dictated he should go with the ball. He threw with anticipation. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones was 14 of 19 for 243 yards and a touchdown when under pressure. The game seems to slow down for him, as though he is a veteran. Of all the things that he did well on Sunday, that is what impressed me the most.

Dan Salomone: Fact – His overall poise starting with the first snap was the most the most impressive part, but the mobility added a whole new wrinkle to the offense. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Daniel Jones reached 19.47 MPH on his 7-yard TD run in the second quarter at Tampa Bay. His fastest run came on a third-down conversion, also in the second quarter. Jones is now responsible for two of the four fastest speeds reached by a QB this season.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Daniel Jones’ mobility was no mystery because it was well documented that he is a dual-threat quarterback. Some of the throws he made, with pressure in his face, were far more impressive. Jones hung tough in the pocket on multiple occasions before firing accurate passes down the field. He made outstanding throws out of the pocket against pressure, such as his 46-yard connection with Darius Slayton in the third quarter that set up a seven-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard. Jones’ arm was on full display in Sunday’s win over the Bucs.

Aside from Daniel Jones, wide receiver Darius Slayton will be the biggest rookie factor on Sunday.

Schmeelk: Fiction – Dexter Lawrence continues to play well as an interior pass rusher. He is reducing the depth of the pocket by driving the interior offensive linemen backwards with his power and athleticism. There’s no reason to think he won’t continue to impact the game against a Redskins team that struggled to protect their quarterback against the Bears on Monday night. I would like to see the Giants get Lawrence or B.J. Hill matched up one-on-one with Ereck Flowers at the three-technique. Redskins center Chase Roullier gave up five hurries last week. The other Giants rookie to watch is Oshane Ximines. According to Pro Football Focus, in 25 pass rush snaps against the Bucs, he had a sack and two quarterback hurries and continues to flash the violent hands and speed off the edge he showed at Old Dominion.

Salomone: Fiction – I’m a card-carrying member of the Darius Slayton Fan Club, but Dexter Lawrence is starting to scratch the surface of what the Giants think he can become. Last week, he blocked an extra point attempt and recorded his first NFL sack. Pressuring Case Keenum is the first key to victory on Sunday, and the Giants will look for Lawrence to get vertical and make it a long day for the quarterback.

Medow: Fact – Darius Slayton brings something different to the receiving corps and that’s vertical speed, which was a big reason why he collected three catches for 83 yards in his regular season debut. With Saquon Barkley sidelined, Daniel Jones is going to need other weapons to step up. This is an opportunity for Slayton to help fill the void. He and Jones worked together on the second team throughout training camp and the preseason, so they already have a great rapport and that translated to the field in Week 3. Now they have a golden opportunity to pick up where they left off in Tampa.

Markus Golden is the biggest key for the defense to carry over what it did in the second half vs. Tampa.

Schmeelk: Fact – The most important reason the Giants turned their defense around in the second half against the Bucs was a tactical shift by the coaching staff. Since the Redskins are a different team and those tactics will vary from matchup to matchup, player performance is the key. Golden has been the Giants’ most consistent edge rusher with four sacks, three quarterback hits, and four hurries. The Redskins have struggled at offensive tackle with Trent Williams holding out, and Golden should have opportunities to get to the quarterback. Right tackle Morgan Moses has allowed two sacks, five quarterback hits and 11 hurries in three games this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Salomone: Fact – Like I mentioned earlier, pressure is the key to the game. With three sacks on the season, Golden already has more than his previous two years combined as he came back from a serious knee injury after his breakout 2016 campaign. There is going to be some electricity in MetLife Stadium on Sunday with the team looking for back-to-back wins in Jones’ home debut. The defense, particularly the pass rush, will look to ride that wave.

Keep an eye on these five players when the Giants play the Redskins in Week 4.

Medow: Fiction – Markus Golden was a big reason why the defense was far more effective in the second half vs Tampa, thanks to his ability to get after Jameis Winston, but Dexter Lawrence is the bigger key. With Lawrence’s knack for collapsing the pocket, Golden is able to consistently rush the passer. Lawrence is also trong against the run. His presence on the line and the ability to use his physical frame so effectively has provided opportunities for his teammates. That’s why he’s the biggest key for the defense in its attempt to duplicate the success it had in the second half vs the Bucs.

Daniel Jones will have more designed runs than usual while Saquon Barkley is sidelined with an ankle injury.

Schmeelk: Fiction – I don’t see one being related to the other at all. Designed runs for Daniel Jones are only likely to be used at critical times when the team needs a big third down conversion, or in the red zone to score points. Even without Saquon Barkley, don’t expect it to be a big part of the offense. Jones took enough hits last week with only one designed run. Designing plays that result in more hits is probably not something you want to do to a rookie quarterback. Jones ran a lot of designed runs at Duke, but I do not expect that to transition to the NFL.

Salomone: Fact – The most amazing part of this week has been Barkley’s injury almost becoming a side story. Think about that. The 2018 NFL yards-from-scrimmage leader is out indefinitely, and all anyone is talking about is Jones. That’s outside of the facility, of course. Inside it, the staff is very aware of the reality. Pat Shurmur, more than anything, wants his offense to be unpredictable. He gets that through balance. The Giants are still going to have to keep defenses honest, and that means running the ball. It will be a group effort, starting with backup running back Wayne Gallman and a good dose of Jones. Don’t forget that Sterling Shepard, a wide receiver, had the longest run for the offense last week.

Medow: Fiction – Daniel Jones’ mobility is a strong weapon, but that doesn’t mean Pat Shurmur wants to expose his rookie quarterback to more hits, especially this early in his career. Despite Saquon Barkley’s absence, the Giants will continue to run their offense and rely on Wayne Gallman to carry the load. Jones will have opportunities to showcase his legs, but his volume of runs will not noticeably increase.

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