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So, let us get this straight?
It was determined that Daniel Jones could protect himself in the pocket, could move around well enough to avoid getting crushed and starting him against the Cardinals would not create any risk of exacerbating the injury to his strained right hamstring.
A day later, after Jones was knocked around in a 26-7 loss, fumbled three times and sacked six times, head coach Joe Judge, after reviewing every play in the game, stated: “The way he moved in the game is what we expected … What we expected to see we pretty much saw.’’
OK, then, there were no surprises. What Judge saw all week in practice is what Jones showed in the game. Jones came out without further hurting his hamstring, but he was hit 11 times and the “bumps and bruises” both Judge and Jones describe means there is no certainty Jones will be able to practice Wednesday.
“I can tell you there’s no broken bones or anything of that nature,’’ Judge said.
Stay with us here. If Jones could not run away from trouble — he did not take off once, either by design or impromptu, for the first time in his 24 career starts — then, logically, was not Jones in greater harm’s way to get hurt because his ability to avoid and escape was admittedly compromised?
“Everything’s always connected,’’ Judge said. “Obviously, he took some hits in the pocket. Were there some times that maybe he could have left the pocket and extended plays? You could argue one way or another.’’
It is over the top to call this a crisis but not unfair to characterize this time and place with the Giants as the first crossroads for Judge in his first year in charge.
Judge miscalculated with his decision to start a debilitated Jones. Taking his legs away left him barely able to function — and, perhaps more damagingly, the mental toll heaped upon a 23-year-old quarterback taking the field without two good wheels was not properly taken into account.
It takes something special to compete while sick or ailing, and Jones did not have it, at all. The Giants knew there would be no designed runs for Jones and believed they could devise a game plan to work around this significant subtraction from the offense.
That belief was either wishful thinking or flat-out wrong.
Jones is responsible for his own performance, but Judge is responsible for signing off on Jones getting the start. Was this malpractice? Of course not.
Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett thought they had an altered plan of attack capable of succeeding. That assessment was not accurate. Sometimes when a player favors one part of his body he inadvertently overcompensates and puts too much stress on another part of his body. All this had to be considered when giving Jones the green light.
Would a more experienced coach have kept Jones on the sideline and gone with Colt McCoy, the veteran backup, for a second consecutive week? Most likely, no. Starters start unless there is no way they can make the start. McCoy, though, would have been able to move in and out of the pocket and it is hard to fathom the offense as less productive with him in charge.
Judge even after 0-5 and 1-7 lived through a honeymoon period, as his team was organized and focused through the losing. As the Giants won four straight, Judge was nearly canonized. He gives off every indication he is the right man for the job and that he will be in the big chair for years to come. He was hit with a salvo of questions about the decision to play Jones and never broke a sweat, calmly and confidently responding to every inquiry, as is his way, showing little emotion and a whole lot of intelligence as he provided detailed and self-assured explanations.
This was not a blunder by Judge, rushing Jones back, but it is a hit. The results bear that out. The 159 total yards was the lowest total for the Giants in more than seven years. The 81 net passing yards was the lowest total in more than 13 years, ever since Eli Manning had 49 net passing yards in the rain, mud and torn-up sod at Wembley Stadium in London.
Worse than the horrid numbers was the way Jones looked, which was awful. Not confused or frustrated. Just not right, at all. Judge should do all he can to figure out what went wrong.