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There were no regrets from Joe Judge about rushing Daniel Jones back and there were no regrets from Daniel Jones about rushing back to lead the Giants’ playoff charge.
But that was a hamstrung young quarterback, compromised by his own limitations, who gave his team no chance to win.
Judge took his best calculated gamble that a Daniel Jones further hamstrung by a game plan that precluded him from using his legs on RPOs or anything else was a better alternative than Colt McCoy. And after Cardinals 26, Giants 7, he finds himself at the mercy of Monday morning quarterbacks one and all.
It was a regrettable performance that saw the Giants outcoached and outplayed, most decisively at the quarterback position against a mobile Kyler Murray.
Hammy Jones (11 for 21, 127 yards, zero rushing attempts) was limping in the fourth quarter following his fifth of six sacks, but by then the game was over, and Colt McCoy was the quarterback with 2:34 left.
That was no first-place team and that is no playoff team with this kind of quarterback play and this kind of anemic offense.
“I’m not sure it hampered [me] too much, I was able to move around in the pocket and do what I needed to do throwing the ball,” Jones said.
He was inaccurate. He didn’t see a wide-open Dion Lewis in the left flat in the first half. He overthrew Wayne Gallman. He held the ball too long too often. His pocket awareness was lacking.
And his old ball security bugaboo (three fumbles, one lost) reared its ugly head again.
“I thought he was able to protect himself in the pocket, which is the main concern in terms of can he step up, can he move it?” Judge said.
You won’t beat a contender with the bar lowered to your quarterback’s ability to protect himself in the pocket.
He in effect was Eli Manning functioning behind that old Ereck Flowers offensive line.
Judge contemplated yanking Hammy Jones in the third quarter when it was 20-0 before his hamstrung quarterback responded with a 39-yard bomb to Golden Tate to the 1 that set up the lone Giants touchdown.
“We made the decision that it was best to stick with what we were doing,” Judge said.
Jones on his next possession throwing incomplete deep down the right sideline for Sterling Shepard on third-and-1 at his 16 was not what anyone would call a high-percentage throw. Shepard dove for the overthrow. Get the damn first down.
“Just saw a matchup there, and gotta give him a better chance to make that play,” Jones said.
The Cardinals not having to worry about Jones’ legs helped them stifle Gallman and the ground game (17-78). Haason Reddick had five of the Cardinals’ eight sacks, two of which came against McCoy. In other words, a good day for Marc Colombo. And only Marc Colombo.
“I gotta do a better job getting the ball out of my hand and find the open guy, I was holding the ball a little bit and put a lot of pressure on those guys up front,” Jones said.
For too much of the game, Shepard and Evan Engram were afterthoughts with Jones targeting Darius Slayton (3-31) eight times. A true No. 1 receiver is desperately needed.
Judge says no, but call it a post-Seattle hangover or a reality check all you want. Special teams endured a third consecutive nightmare. Big Blue staged an early goal-line stand following Jones’ lost fumble to Markus Golden and was the sole reason why the game wasn’t over by halftime. But there was no complementary football to be found after intermission. And never forget that in a quarterback-driven league, it is the quarterback who needs to do the driving on days like this. And the quarterback was hamstrung all day.
“I don’t regret it,” Jones said. “I felt good enough to play, I felt like I could do everything I needed to do, and I did throughout the game,” Jones said.
Judge: “I have no regrets on playing him. We made a calculated decision based on what we thought he could do as a player.”