Five storylines to follow in Week 3 as the New York Giants prepare for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
1. End of an era. For the first time in 5,748 days (Week 17, 2003), neither Eli Manning nor Ben Roethlisberger nor Drew Brees will start a game this weekend. Giants coach Pat Shurmur announced Tuesday that Daniel Jones will start in place of Manning as the team searches for its first win of the season in Tampa Bay. Shurmur spoke with both the two-time Super Bowl MVP and the sixth overall draft pick that morning.
“Eli was obviously disappointed, as you would expect, but he said he would be what he has always been, a good teammate, and continue to prepare to help this team win games,” Shurmur said. “Daniel understands the challenge at hand, and he will be ready to play on Sunday.”
Manning has started 232 of the Giants’ last 233 regular-season games, a span that began in Week 11 of the 2004 season when, as the first overall draft choice that year, he replaced future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. On the NFL’s all-time lists, Manning is currently sixth in completions (4,860), seventh in yards (56,537) and eighth in touchdown passes (362).
2. Another begins. Jones currently has three completions, 17 yards, and no touchdowns. Jones was the second of 11 quarterbacks chosen in April, and he will become the third to start. Top pick Kyler Murray has been the Cardinals’ starting quarterback from day one, and Gardner Minshew II, a sixth-round selection, started last week for the Jaguars in place of the injured Nick Foles. Jones made his NFL debut on the final drive of the Giants’ 35-17 loss to Dallas in the season opener. After he competed three of four passes, Jones lost a fumble on a five-yard scramble.
But the Duke graduate really turned heads in the preseason when he posted a 137.3 passer rating, averaged 12.2 yards per pass attempt, and completed 85.3 percent of his passes in the preseason. Those were all first among quarterbacks who threw more than six passes.
“Ultimately, this is a move that I felt was best for this team at this time,” Shurmur said. “I have said it since I got here, I am very fond of Eli. His work ethic, his preparation, his football intelligence. All those attributes are as good as I have ever seen in a player. And Eli worked as hard as you could ask of anybody to get ready for this season. This move is more about Daniel moving forward than about Eli.”
3. Still a game to play. While the quarterback news understandably made national headlines, there is no pause button on the schedule. The 0-2 Giants travel to Raymond James Stadium to face the rested 1-1 Buccaneers, who defeated the Panthers on the road last Thursday night. Big Blue will look to shore up a defense that is allowing 441 yards and 31.5 points per game. Conversely, under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the Buccaneers have allowed just 2.69 yards per rush, the third-best mark in the league. It will be strength-on-strength in that department as the Giants, propelled by Saquon Barkley, are averaging 7.57 yards per rush, the best in the NFL by nearly two yards (Houston is second at 5.77).
4. Famous Jameis. Wherever Daniel Jones’ career goes from Sunday, the answer to the trivia question of “Who was the opposing quarterback?” will be Jameis Winston. The former Heisman Trophy winner and first overall draft pick reclaimed the starting job in Tampa under new head coach Bruce Arians. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is now in Miami, started last year’s 38-35 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium. Winston took over in the third quarter of a 24-7 game and led the Buccaneers on four touchdown drives before ultimately falling short. He has started every game since then, including two this season. He threw three interceptions in a 31-17 loss to San Francisco in Week 1 but didn’t throw any in the Thursday night victory over Carolina. Winston has thrown a league-high 61 interceptions since he was drafted in 2015. The Giants have yet to force a turnover this season.
5. Rookie Slayton could help the injury-depleted WR room. As Golden Tate serves the second part of his four-game suspension, Cody Latimer suffered a concussion on a fourth-down conversion in last week’s loss to Buffalo. The Giants were already playing without Sterling Shepard (concussion) and Darius Slayton (hamstring), a fifth-round draft choice who is still looking to make his NFL debut. Shurmur said Slayton will be practicing this week, which is a good -- but not definitive -- sign for Sunday. In the meantime, TJ Jones is relishing his return to the team. Jones, who led the team in receptions in the preseason, was released on the final roster cutdown and then re-signed last week. He caught a touchdown and broke a 60-yard punt return.