Daniel Jones heads into his first bye week similar to how Saquon Barkley went into his a year ago.
Both had already broken rookie records (with more in sight), but their impressive debuts had yet to translate to team success. The Giants are 2-8 at this year’s break, while last season they were 1-7. The 2018 Giants rebounded to win four of their next five games, a run the current team will try to replicate beginning with a road trip to Chicago in Week 12.
“I think we still have an opportunity to finish strong and get back on track,” Jones said. “I think that’s where everyone’s heads are right now, that’s what we’re focused on. We’ll use this bye to focus on those things, to address them and to come back ready to, like I said, finish strong.”
After winning his first two starts, the Giants proceeded to lose six in a row, most recently a 34-27 loss to the Jets. Jones threw four touchdown passes, which made him just the fifth rookie player in NFL history to have multiple games with that many, but he lost his ninth fumble of the season. It was his 17th turnover overall.
“That’s a big deal and makes it a lot harder on our team,” Jones said. “I’m certainly aware of that. I’m doing everything I can to correct it. I need to continue to focus on that and it needs to improve.”
Jones added: “Obviously, you want to do what you’re doing well, continue to do that well and try to keep improving. We’ve had a lot of guys step up and make plays. My job is to continue to get them the ball and give them opportunities to make plays.”
With an added week of rest, Barkley aims to do more of that when the Giants reconvene. The team will practice Wednesday before breaking until Monday.
“What I did last year and what I’ll do this year is just reflect on the season so far,” Barkley said. “Go back and just kind of watch every play individually, as a team, and look at all the good and all the bad and just try to improve what I was able to do the first half of the season to the second half of the season.”
Barkley, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3 and missed the following three games, has averaged under three yards per carry since the injury. While his receiving totals reflect the player the league has come to know – and fear – the Jets held him to a single yard on 13 carries.
After the game, coach Pat Shurmur said the Pro Bowl running back got “banged up a little bit” and admitted it may have contributed to the performance. Today, Barkley said he felt “pretty good” and dismissed any injury excuse.
“I don’t think any back would want to go into a game and have one yard, but the Jets did a great job,” Barkley said. “Like I said, I went after the game and made sure I congratulated [Jets defensive coordinator Gregg] Williams over there, they did a really good job. The way I handle it is the same way I handle it if I had a 200-yard performance. You don’t let outside forces dictate how you operate in your workforce. So, good game, bad game, I treat it the same. When you go for 200 yards, you’ve got to be critical of yourself and judge yourself the same way if you had a bad game, and vice versa. So, the way I handle it is the same way how I handle every game.”
Being the focus of a defensive game plan, Barkley said, comes with the territory.
“God blessed me with an unbelievable talent, so a lot of people are going to focus on me,” Barkley said. “I guess, it can be a main objective to stop and take away. But at the end of the day, we were able to get four touchdowns, have four touchdown drives, we just didn’t score when we needed to the most, but the offense played amazing. [Golden] Tate stepped up big for us, Slay [Darius Slayton] stepped up big for us, Daniel had an amazing game, but growing pains—after those games come, we just have to figure out how to win those games, and I’m still going to have a positive mindset. When we’re able to flip it around and turn the script around, it’s going to be a beautiful story.”