Daniel Jones is in the middle of a make-or-break season with the New York Giants. Of course, it’s hard to show a level of competency when you are running for your life on every pass play.
Through three games, only Carson Wentz and Joe Burrow have been sacked more than Jones. The latest game, a 23-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, saw Jones harassed early and often by a relentless Dallas pass rush.
For any quarterback, being sacked 13 times through three games can be a challenge both physically and mentally. Normal pocket passers can get jittery in the pocket when hit too much, and athletic players are known to bail a clean pocket because of protection issues. To Giants quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney, Jones’ mindset hasn’t changed.
“Just tell him to stay focused. Keep doing a good job of making the decisions that he made. He did a good job of recognizing when he could run and when he should stay in the pocket.” Tierney told AMNY before Friday’s practice.
Part of the struggles with protecting Jones has been the play-calls as well. Instead of long-timing routes, short-quick decision throws would be more beneficial to keeping Jones upright.
Tierney acknowledged that the conversation is always ongoing to help their quarterback out.
“We talk about it every week of like, ‘what’s the best thing to do for the players’..those are ongoing discussions every week and you adjust throughout the game as you’re watching it of what to do more or less of,” Tierney added.
The Giants can try to get the ball out of Jones’ hands quicker, but the simpler way to protect their quarterback is for their offensive line to protect the pass rusher better. Luckily, the upcoming opponent the Chicago Bears poses a much different problem than the rival Cowboys.
While Dallas is first in the league in sacks, the Bears sit at 24th. Just because Chicago has a low sack total as a team, doesn’t mean that they aren’t as dangerous.
“Both teams find a way to get their best pass rushers in advantageous situations…There’s a lot of similarities, but every team has got a bit of a different tweak based on who they have and how many they have.” Giants’ offensive line coach Bobby Johnson said before practice.
Johnson’s statement was echoed by several of the team’s starters.
“It’s the same mindset for us. We got a good line and we know we play well together and we need to do that Sunday.” Ben Bredeson said.
Bredeson is a part of an interior line that has struggled through three games for the New York Giants. As New York continues to look for ways to better help their linemen, there is solace in the fact that one position is already apparently locked up with a top player.
Andrew Thomas is the NFL’s highest-graded tackle according to Pro Football Focus. Thomas’ work as the protector of Daniel Jones’ blindside has been a key part in keeping Jones relatively safe and healthy through three games.
Thomas also echoed Bredeson’s remarks on the challenge of the Giants facing a different, but deadly Chicago Bears pass rush.
“They (Bears) don’t have the same amount of sacks, but they’re actually on top of the league in creating pressures with just four down fronts.” Thomas later added “Dallas had a more five-man front but Chicago gets a lot of pressure…that’s the beauty of the NFL. There’s no off-week.”
Thomas is correct in that there are no-off weeks in the NFL. But if the Giants want to get back to their winning ways, protecting Daniel Jones is of the utmost importance. As New York continues to build on their first season with a new coaching staff, it’ll be up to the offensive line to see just how far they still have to go.