EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – And in his second game, Daniel Jones had more tackles than touchdown passes.
But that is actually good news for the Giants. After a brief but flawless debut in which he made playing pro football look easy, the impressive rookie quarterback faced some difficulty for the first time Friday night. Jones mishandled a snap and later had the ball stolen from his hand, resulting in two second-quarter turnovers.
But the Giants’ top draft choice shook off the miscues as if they were minor inconveniences. In five series, he completed 11 of 14 passes for 161 yards and one touchdown for a passer rating of 138.4 in a 32-13 Giants victory in preseason game No. 2 against a Chicago Bears team that did not play a single offensive or defensive starter. That did not quite match his perfect five-for-five passing and 158.3 rating in the opening victory last week vs. the Jets, but it kept Jones’ arrow pointing sharply up.
“We had a fumbled snap, which is a no-no,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Then certainly, you can’t drop the ball in the pocket like Daniel Jones did. He had a little bit of adversity to fight back from, I think that was a question somebody had last week. I think for the most part he threw the ball well and got us in the end zone.”
Jones’ only shortcoming was difficulty securing the ball. The Giants were at Chicago’s 19-yard line on the second play of the second quarter when he couldn’t control Jon Halapio’s snap and the ball was recovered by defensive end Jonathan Bullard – who was downed by Jones. Less than six minutes later, on a third-and-11 from the Giants’ 33-yard line, linebacker James Vaughters broke free and stole the ball while sacking Jones for a 12-yard loss. Jones recovered to tackle Vaughters and prevent a touchdown, which proved significant when Elliott Fry subsequently missed a 47-yard field goal attempt.
“I was very upset,” Jones said. “I think those are two mistakes you can’t make. One time we were driving with the ball in scoring position and I made a costly mistake there, and then kind of holding the ball in the pocket, two bad mistakes, so definitely things to learn from.”
Which is exactly the attitude Shurmur wants him to take.
“A guy got beat, and it was swatted out of his hands,” Shurmur said. “That’s it. You have to secure it. I don’t think he ever took a snap under center in college. That’s just part of the growing, but he didn’t panic. He dropped the ball a couple times, but he didn’t call his parents. He just went back to work and did a good job at getting us in the end zone.”
What did Shurmur say to his prized rookie?
“Don’t do that,” Shurmur said. “It’s very simple - don’t drop the snap and two hands on the ball in the pocket. It’s never acceptable to drop the ball. He’s smart enough to know that immediately and make corrections. It’s that simple, I don’t have to write him a note. I just tell him.”
“(Shurmur said) just get back out there,” Jones said. “Just bounce back, I think, was his message. We talked about the play, I need to get the ball in my hands, I need to break the pocket. Yeah, just a bad mistake.”
Jones has played enough football to know he wasn’t going to carry around a perfect passer rating for long, because mistakes are inevitable.
“I think that’s a big part of football for everyone, particularly quarterbacks,” he said. “I think there are going to be things that don’t go great, and obviously you never want that, you try to guard against them. They’re definitely things I need to learn from, but when they happen you’ve got to find a way to make it work. So, I’m glad we were able to do that. We got big plays there on the two-minute drive by a lot of people, so it was fun to put that together.”
Early in the week, Shurmur said he wanted to see Jones run a two-minute drill. On Friday, he got to do just that.
The Giants took possession at their own 35 with a 12-3 lead and with 2:59 remaining in the second quarter after the Bears had their own snap issues, which resulted in quarterback Chase Daniels kicking the ball out of the end zone for a safety.
On the first play, Jones flipped a short pass to running back Paul Perkins, who turned it into a 28-yard gain. That was followed by a nine-yard throw to TJ Jones.
After the two-minute warning, Perkins ran for seven yards and Jones hit Jones for eight yards to the 15. On second-and-two, Jones lofted a perfect pass to Jones, who got a step on John Franklin III on the left side of the end zone and scored his second touchdown in as many weeks.
“Just a one-on-one opportunity for us with him,’ Daniel Jones said. “He made a great play getting free there at the end and getting some space, so a lot of trust in him, and he’s done a great job for us. He made a great play there.”
So did the quarterback, who remained determined and confident after twice giving the ball to the Bears.
“You don’t want to make any mistakes, but I think it was going to happen and you realize that,” Jones said. “There are going to be some mistakes and just figuring that out sometimes. I didn’t try to make any mistakes.
“I think that’s a big part of football, I think for all positions. Obviously, you don’t want things to go bad and you don’t want to fumble the ball, but that’s going to happen in the game sometimes. The defense did a great job of getting us the ball back there with three minutes to go, and a few big plays by a lot of people, and got down the field. So, I think that’s a big part of the game, and just bouncing back.”
Jones proved Friday night he could do just that, which was just as notable as his perfect debut a week ago.