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Game Preview: Giants look to turn the page in LA

DANIEL-JONES-PHOTO

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Daniel Jones spoke to reporters on his weekly Zoom call Wednesday. Both the second and third questions were about his turnovers.

The following day, the first query to Joe Judge in his daily interaction with the media concerned…Jones' turnovers.

Just a few minutes before that, an interview with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett began with an inquiry about Jones' "struggles."

No one is more determined to change that narrative than Jones, who will try to do so Sunday when the Giants face the Los Angeles Rams in SoFi Stadium.

The Giants are 0-3 this season. Jones' passer rating of 69.2 is 32nd among qualifying NFL quarterbacks. He has thrown two touchdown passes in 113 attempts.

But none of Jones' numbers have been scrutinized like his turnovers.

"That's something I'm certainly continuing to work on," Jones said. "It's something that I'm mindful of every day in my preparation and have to continue to work on. It makes it harder to win when we're turning the ball over and I can't afford to do that. I'm certainly disappointed, but I'm not sure what that does to help improve or work toward getting better. I think it's something that I have to continue to work toward."

Like all teams, the Giants had an unusual offseason that included remote learning and no on-field practices. But Jones stayed focused and worked hard on his primary goal, which was reducing the number of times he gave the ball to opponents.

The emphasis has yet to pay dividends. Jones had two turnovers in each of the first three games (four interceptions and two fumbles). The six giveaways tie him with Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins for the league's second-highest total, behind Philadelphia's Carson Wentz (seven).

"I certainly didn't expect it going into the season," Jones said. "It's never something you expect, and it's something I've worked hard on to improve. I'll continue to do that."

Jones has since demonstrated the resilience and determination that has given Judge confidence that his young quarterback will demonstrate better ball security and elevate his performance against a Rams defense that surrendered 32 points last week in Buffalo.

"I love his response," Judge said. "This guy is coming in laser focused. He's had a great week of practice for us right here. He's obviously focused on the game plan, the details of the Rams, and everyone on our team focuses every day on individual fundamentals. He's had a great week."

"I know he's not going to be shaken by whatever, our slow start or what have you," wide receiver Darius Slayton said. "Like coach Judge said, he came out this week ready to go to work. I'm proud of him and ready to follow him."

But as long as the turnovers persist, so will the questions. To Jones' credit, he doesn't lash out, reveals no anger and never refuses to answer the questions. He knows reducing turnovers is something he must accomplish to elevate both his own game and the team's.

Judge does not want Jones shouldering the burden alone.

"We have to do a better job as coaches putting our players in situations to really be successful on the field," Judge said. "Every player right now just has to do a better job elevating our level of play in the game and executing. Specific to any one player, there are always reasons. It's never just one guy. We have to string some things together. We have a lot of confidence in Daniel and excited to get him on the grass going forward."

Jones would certainly be helped by an improvement in the rushing attack that is averaging an NFL-low 56.7 yards a game. The Giants' running backs have a combined 40 rushing attempts. They yielded only 72 yards, or 1.8 yards an attempt. Improvement is needed in several areas.

"I think just across the board, it has to be complementary football and we have to play balanced on offense," Judge said. "Running helps the passing game and vice versa. We all have to do a better job in terms of how we design the game plan, make sure we put them in the right position play wise so the players make plays, play to our strengths, and we all have to elevate our level of play. We have to do a better job as coaches on Sundays, and we have to do a better job executing as players as well. There's no really one pinpoint answer on that. We all have to play better and execute the way we need to. The results will come when we do things right."

When he was the Dallas Cowboys' head coach, Garrett mentored quarterback Dak Prescott, who averaged 12.8 giveaways in his first four seasons. Prescott threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles in this year's first three games.

Garrett was asked about maintaining the confidence of a young quarterback who inevitably struggles at times.

"That idea applies to all of your players," Garrett said. "One of the things that's part of the NFL is adversity. The guys on the other side are good. You're going to be challenged every snap. Regardless of what position you're playing, playing with the confidence that you're going to have success on this particular down is critical. You want to do that with all of your guys, and you certainly want to do that with your quarterback. The quarterback has the ball in his hands every play. Things aren't going to go perfectly, so you have to be able to handle the adversity of the game and just keep going.

"That's one of the things we really like about Daniel. He just has that mindset mentality of a competitor. Whether he has success or failure or adversity on a previous play, he's going to keep coming back. He's demonstrated that over the course of the first three weeks."

The Giants will need him to exude that trait again.

View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams.

*The game will be the Giants' first game in Los Angeles in 26 years. On Oct. 16, 1994, they lost 17-10 a year before the Rams left Southern California to begin their 21-year stay in St. Louis. The Giants were 3-10 in regular-season games and 1-0 in the playoffs in Los Angeles when the Rams were based there from 1946-94. The teams last met on Nov. 5, 2017, when the Rams led by as many as 38 points on their way to a 51-17 victory. That ended the Giants' seven-game winning streak in the series; they had defeated the Rams in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2016, a stretch of success that was immediately followed five consecutive Rams victories in the series. The Rams lead the regular-season series, 26-16. The postseason series is tied, 1-1.

*The "Bud Light Giants Gameday" radio pregame show will begin at 1:50 p.m. on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM and will stream live on Giants.com, the Giants mobile app, and "Giants TV" streaming app.

"Giants Postgame Live" presented by Mercedes-Benz can be heard immediately after the game - also on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM and streaming on Giants.com, the Giants mobile app, and "Giants TV" streaming app.

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