Shurmur: A good first step for QB Daniel Jones

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A night of sleep and a dissection of the game tape did not alter Pat Shurmur’s opinion about the Giants’ quarterback hierarchy. Eli Manning is firmly entrenched as the starter and auspicious rookie Daniel Jones is No. 2.

“We’ll be back to work Sunday, and nothing has changed,” Shurmur said on a conference call this afternoon.

Since Manning and Jones totaled 11 snaps in the Giants’ 31-22 victory against the Jets in their preseason opener last night, scant data was available to alter the team’s long-held plans.

The first-team offense went three-and-out in Manning’s only series. What did Shurmur get out of playing the 16-year veteran for one possession that lasted less than two minutes?

“He’s our starter. I think it’s important that he played to some degree,” Shurmur said. “The idea was not to go three and out, the idea was to go on a scoring drive. That’s what I get out of it.”

Jones followed by completing all five of his passes on a 79-yard drive that ended with his 12-yard scoring pass to Bennie Fowler.

Asked about the next step for the Giants’ first-round draft choice, Shurmur focused on performance, and not where he ranks on depth chart.

“Keep playing, keep improving,” Shurmur said. “I’ve said it all along, as well as he’s been trained in college, there are many things that he is doing for the first time and those are things that need to get repped both on the practice field and in games. Had we not had the (59-minute) weather delay (in the first quarter), he probably would have played maybe eight or 10 more snaps. When we went back out and restarted the game, I kind of felt like it was right to go with the twos. Just get more of the same and try to expose him to more and more things. I’d like to see him at some point get into a two-minute drive, some of the things you are going to see as you play a full game.”

Shurmur has consistently and insistently said that Manning is the starter. But that hasn’t stopped reporters from asking him about alternative scenarios. Today, Shurmur fielded this question: “If Daniel continues to play well, could this ever be open to a quarterback competition for Week 1?”

“Listen, we’re not going to play the ‘what ifs,’” Shurmur said. “I would say this: nothing has changed. This is the first game and I expect Daniel to play well, I expect him to go out and improve, and for the people that don’t know him, impress them. That’s what we expect from him. We expect that from Eli, we expect that from everybody. So, our expectations for him have not changed, and in my mind, our situation hasn’t changed.

“In my mind, we’re getting everybody ready to play, and our situation here hasn’t changed.”

The Giants will return to action next Friday at home against the Chicago Bears. No matter what happens, that game will certainly elicit more questions about the quarterbacks.

Shurmur did cover non-quarterback subjects on his call:

*On the pass interference penalty rookie cornerback Corey Ballentine was assessed after a replay review. For the first time this year, coaches can challenge defensive and offensive pass interference calls and non-calls. Ballentine was penalized only after Jets coach Adam Gase threw his challenge flag. What was an incompletion became a 33-yard infraction.

“I think the process played out just like we’re probably going to see it play out,” Shurmur said. “To the naked eye at game speed, it looked like an excellent play by Corey. And I still think it was. The words they use are, ‘clear and obvious,’ and clearly and obviously he was grabbing the receiver’s wrist. That can be seen on replay, so that’s why the call was made. They started the process with the replay by saying they were going to officiate it by the letter of the law, and then the final verbiage on that is now, ‘clear and obvious.’ Even though it may be clear and obvious to somebody on the field, it has to then be clear and obvious on whatever replays that the official is seeing. We were on top of it, and if it was different, or if it was flipped, we would’ve challenged it just like they did.”

*On the first-team defense, which surrendered a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the Jets’ first possession.

“On the first drive, we were in man coverage and there was a little bit of miscommunication,” Shurmur said. “We cut a guy loose; that was the big play. So, aside from that, there were some good plays in that drive. Certainly, the scoring play (a three-yard pass from Sam Darnold to Jamison Crowder) and the sprint option, we sort of lost leverage in the slot. So, there were things to correct. You certainly don’t want a team to ever go down and score on the opening drive, but we settled down and we found a way to do what we had to do then to pretty much play good defense from there.”

*Rookie running back Jon Hilliman is in the NFL concussion protocol. Another back, Wayne Gallman, has “a little bit of a foot strain.” Linebacker Alec Ogletree has a calf strain.

Shurmur said some players who have been out “an extended period” could return to the field next week, including rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring), cornerback Grant Haley (shoulder) and tackle Chad Wheeler (back).

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