Protecting Daniel Jones goes beyond yanking him during a blowout

Protecting Daniel Jones goes beyond yanking him during a blowout

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Count Dallas Cowboy linebacker Micah Parsons among those who thought Daniel Jones should’ve been relieved, at some point, during the Cowboys thrashing of the New York Giants on Sunday night. Speaking on his podcast that I will never listen to, Parsons — who recorded one of Dallas’ seven sacks of Jones — said Brian Daboll did a poor job of “protecting” his guy, and he’s right to a degree.

“It’s called protecting your guy — something I thought the Giants should have done,” Parsons said Tuesday. “I don’t think Daniel Jones should have been in that game in the fourth quarter.

“I thought they should have protected him and pulled him out. Barring injury, their season would be over without Daniel Jones.”

I can understand wanting to avoid a shoutout on opening night against a division rival who has owned you in recent years, but the Giants should’ve been protecting their $160 million man way before the game got out of hand. A year ago, New York surprised the league by making the playoffs and winning a postseason game.

They were able to do that in large part because of Jones’ legs. The Duke product rushed 120 times for 708 yards a season ago, both career highs by a lot. However, this isn’t Josh Allen we’re talking about, and that approach isn’t sustainable physically or tactically.

Defensive coordinators got wise to Daboll’s tricks last season, and the nuance of the naked bootleg, or zone-read games has vanished. In the Giant second go-rounds with NFC East teams in 2022, Jones had rushing outputs of 14, 35, and 24 yards.

On Sunday night, Jones toted the rock 13 times for 43 yards, or 3.31 yards per carry, and that poor production is going to continue if the Giants stick to this fluke of a scheme. Yes, it worked for Josh Allen in Buffalo, but the system is too heavily dependent on one QB who happens to be built like a tight end.

The Bills still need a running game, and it’s arguably the only thing that’s going to turn Allen back into an MVP frontrunner. Buffalo coach Sean McDermott was already getting after his signal-caller on Monday for recklessness, and they need a quality ground attack to take the burden off Allen and make sure he’s not amassing nagging injuries as the carries pile up.

The same can be said for Jones, only he requires a lot more help, and isn’t as durable. (Lest we forget former Giant offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s misguided dalliance with the QB run game that almost got Jones’ neck snapped.) Saquon Barkley in theory should do that as opposing defenses focus on him, and not Jones. Now though, teams know what to look for, and will be ready to tee off on the 6-foot-5 Jones despite his elusiveness and “low-key” athleticism.

Daboll’s insistence (stubbornness?) is a little reminiscent of another New York coach with an unflinchingly rigid system, and a blatant disregard for player health as Tom Thibodeau also enjoys grinding his best players into dust en route to a second-round exit. I’m not prepared to call it a one-to-one comparison, but it is something worth monitoring.

The New York Giants were a trendy candidate for regression this season due to the number of one-score wins in 2022, the difficulty of the 2023 schedule, and the fact that no one — outside of maybe Daboll — trusts Jones. If the quarterback is going to be unavailable in addition to being suspect, the G-Men are cooked.

That’s why Parsons was spot on about one thing though: The Giants season will be over without its quarterback. New York might not go too far with Daniel Jones, but that’s still up to the player and coach.

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.