EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – An old cliché applicable to both sports and life is, "it's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."
Daniel Jones has been knocked down often in his 17 games as the Giants' starting quarterback. And we're not talking about the 54 sacks he's absorbed, including 16 this season.
Jones' pain would exist if he never hit the ground, because the Giants have won just three of those games. That's a heavy burden for any quarterback and especially one that is just 23 years old.
Despite the record and the other bumps Jones has endured, the Giants' coaches remain his strongest supporters.
"This guy is still a young guy," coach Joe Judge said today. "We're working on getting him really comfortable within the scheme, handling different situations. He's made a lot of progress for us. As an entire team, we want to see guys make strides in the running and passing game and defensively and the kicking game as well. But I've seen a lot of progress from Daniel. He's a very resilient guy, he's a fighter. He stands there and plays very aggressive. I'm pleased with the way he's played for the most part to this point. There are obviously some things that all of us as coaches and players have to clean up and learn from and not repeat mistakes."
"He is a resilient guy," quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski said. "Every week is a new week for him and a new week for us. He is so resilient. … He comes to work each week just trying to work his butt off and do the best he can. And we're trying to do the best we can for him. Unfortunately, sometimes younger guys when they're playing and they're playing early they take some lumps. But by no means do I think he's shellshocked. He's trying to do the best he can on every play."
Jones and the Giants haven't received the desired results yet this season. They are 0-5 after a last-second 37-34 loss in Dallas on Sunday. This week, they host the Washington Football Team, the opponent in two of the three games Jones started and won. He hasn't celebrated in a winning locker room since the Giants' 41-35 overtime victory in FedExField last Dec. 22 and is eager to recapture that feeling.
"We put a lot of work into it throughout the week. To not get the results is disappointing at times," Jones said. "It's frustrating. I think like anyone, I certainly am when we don't get the results. I take it hard. But the thing about this game, the thing about any game, any sport or anything you're doing is you have to be able to refocus and not let it discourage you, not let it distract from the next one, from the preparation or looking forward, I guess. Taking the next step and using what you learned to help you. It's definitely tough, it's definitely frustrating. But I think you have to be able to learn from it and re-energize yourself and focus toward the next week. I try to do that. I think as a team, we were frustrated but it's time to refocus our efforts and use that energy to focus toward next week and not let it distract from our preparation. I thought we had a good practice today and guys were focused and ready to go."
Judge and his assistant coaches are, as he said, "blunt, open and honest" when they speak to the players. The head coach can be loud and tells the truth knowing straight-talking assessments might be difficult for a player to hear. No one is critiqued more forcefully than Jones. And no one has responded more impressively in Judge's opinion than has Jones.
"You have to be mentally tough to handle that, you have to understand the criticism that we're giving to you, and you have to be able to take the coaching and move forward with it," Judge said. "I'll tell you what, Number 8 does that very well for us. He's a tough-minded dude. He responds to a lot of criticism on the outside. But he blocks that out and he plays for his teammates internally. Those guys respect that about him. Have I had private conversations with every one of our players? Absolutely. Do I say things to them that I'm not going to reveal to the public? Absolutely. That's just part of my job. We're very honest with our players. We let them know where they're at, where we need them to go, and then we put them in positions where they can work on how we can get them there. … I'm sure him, along with every other player on the team, is going to do everything they can to get ready for Washington."
Schuplinski is impressed with Jones' effort and the improvement he has made in areas that might not be apparent to even the most fervent fan.
"I love the way he goes about his work, I love how he pays attention to detail on everything we tell him to do, what we're working on with him," Schuplinski said. "He has made progress in areas in a lot of ways. His ball is coming out pretty fast. He's really good at his communication at the line of scrimmage with those guys and trying to get things organized. He's done a good job of mixing up some snap counts and some cadences. I think the accuracy has been pretty good. He's done better with decision-making. The last game he had four or five plays where he got rid of the ball when there was a breakdown. There was one in the red zone where he threw it out of the back of the end zone. That progress has been good to see."
It will be a lot more enjoyable when he displays that progress in a victory.
"This guy is a fiery competitor," Schuplinski said. "I guarantee you, no one takes a loss harder than he does. Having the opportunity to see this guy in the locker room after every game, it's been a crushing for him."
"I certainly appreciate their support," Jones said. "I'm certainly working as hard as I can to improve and take coaching and help this offense move forward. We're all working together and we all have the same goal. Like I said, I think we've made improvement. We've taken steps. We need to find a way to finish in these games."
Sunday would be the perfect time to start.
*Every player on the Giants practiced today, though four were limited: linebacker Kyler Fackrell (ankle), defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence (knee), safety Jabrill Peppers (ankle) and wide receiver Darius Slayton (foot).
*Outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter underwent surgery this morning at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan to repair his ruptured Achilles tendon. The procedure was performed by Dr. Martin O'Malley.
*The Giants have signed outside linebacker Trent Harris to their practice squad. Harris, 6-2 and 255 pounds, played in 11 games with three starts for the 2019 Miami Dolphins, whose then defensive coordinator Patrick Graham now holds the same position with the Giants. He recorded 22 tackles (16 solo), including 1.5 sacks.
"This is a guy that plays on the edge," Judge said. "I think he has a good skillset in terms of setting the edge, some pass rush ability. We'll see where he's at through the week of practice. We're going to work all the guys on our roster and practice squad every week within the game plan and see what pieces fit best for us. But he's a lunch pail type of guy. He comes to work every day, doesn't say much, just works, good team-first personality. He' a good match for what we're looking for right now. We'll look to see what opportunities present itself to him."
Harris joined the Dolphins as a waiver claim on Sept. 1, 2019. He was released on July 26, re-signed on Aug. 25 and cut again on Sept. 5.
Harris entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Miami in 2018 with the New England Patriots. He was waived at the end of training camp and spent that season on the Patriots' practice squad. Judge was then the Patriots' special teams coordinator.