EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants did much to please Pat Shurmur in their preseason victory against the Chicago Bears last night. But coaches are wont to focus on errors that need correcting, and that’s where Shurmur was after viewing the tape of the 32-13 triumph.
The coach was particularly perturbed about his players’ carelessness with the ball. The Giants fumbled four times, and rookie Daniel Jones lost two of them, including one on a center-quarterback exchange issue that arose more than once.
“I thought we were loose with the football,” Shurmur said on a conference call today. “We dropped a punt, we had a chance at an interception which we didn’t get. We did cause a couple of fumbles, which was good, but on the flip side, Daniel Jones had two fumbles, Rod Smith had one, we had three drops, and then Eli (Manning) had a little exchange problem. That was not up to our standards. Those are all correctable, every one of those, and those are the things that we will continue to focus on as we go through camp. If we’re going to talk about what we did well and then what we need to improve on, I think … it’s ‘all ball’ and it’s all about the ball, and we need to do a better job at securing it.”
Jones’ second-quarter miscues blemished an otherwise second outstanding performance, in which he completed 11 of 14 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown. Early in the quarter, he couldn’t control Jon Halapio’s snap and the ball was recovered by Jonathan Bullard at the Chicago 24-yard line. The Bears lost two yards and punted.
After the game, Jones who worked exclusively out of a shotgun at Duke, said he was “just getting out too quick, so I’ve got to make sure I’m secure with the ball, secure with the snap.”
With 8:53 remaining in the quarter, the Giants faced a third-and-11 at their own 33. Jones took a shotgun snap, but in the pocket he exposed the ball, which was tipped out of his hand and recovered by James Vaughters. Once again, the turnover didn’t result in points for the Bears, because Elliott Fry missed a 47-yard field goal attempt. But that didn’t mollify Shurmur.
“Getting the exchange is the first thing and there’s a reason for it,” Shurmur said. “We were running a wide zone play to the left and he has to ride the center and do that better. I was a center, and I had an agreement with the quarterback when the ball was on the ground, I would say it was my fault, then he would say it was his fault. In reality, it’s both their faults. I think that is something we have to clean up. It’s just practice, and obviously very correctable. You always have to keep two hands on the ball in the pocket. I really feel like that’s just something you have to get used to when guys are swatting at you. Those are things we can work on.”
Jones said he will learn from the fumbles.
“You don’t want to make any mistakes, but I think it was going to happen and you realize that,” he said. “There are going to be some mistakes and just figuring that out sometimes. I didn’t try to make any mistakes.”
Asked about Shurmur saying he can’t drop the ball in the pocket, Jones said, “It’s the truth. It’s what he is saying to me, I’m fine with it. I think there is a standard for accountability and I certainly respect that and appreciate that. Can’t argue with it, it’s the truth.”
*Jones played the majority of his 24 snaps behind the backup offensive line.
“I have confidence in everybody that we put out there, and I think we have some players who compete in the second offensive line who have a really good chance to make our team,” Shurmur said. “I think it’s smart to get him out there and get as many reps as possible. I guess I didn’t put much thought into that other than the first time out (last week vs. the Jets), I just wanted him to start behind the first line. If it was a perfect world that night, he probably would have played a series or two behind the second line (but Jones played only one series because of a 59-minute weather delay).”
Who among the reserve linemen has particularly impressed Shurmur?
“There are a couple,” he said. “As we go forward, I thought a guy who has played well, and obviously was hurt a year ago, is Nick Gates (who spent the entire 2018 season on injured reserve with a foot injury). That’s one guy that has done a nice job. We have Evan Brown who has played in there and done a good job. Those are a couple - and then (Chad) Slade has done a nice job. (Then we) have Spencer Pulley, who I consider a starter, just as a couple of the guys, probably, who I have mentioned.”
*The Giants had three sacks of Chicago quarterback Chase Daniel, one each by Markus Golden, Olsen Pierre, and rookie Oshane Ximines. They were credited with five quarterback hits.
“I thought we were more disruptive,” Shurmur said. “I thought the interior defensive linemen played better than they did the week before, I thought the edge pressure was a little bit better. X-man got his first sack, which was good. I feel, generally speaking, we were more disruptive. We still have to improve but I think it was a step forward from last week.”
*Shurmur did not have an update on cornerback Antonio Hamilton, who left the game with a groin injury.