Giants takeaways from Thursday's 30-29 loss to Washington, including Daniel Jones' strong effort not being enough

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Daniel Jones blue uniform running with ball about to take a hit Washington defender in the shot
Daniel Jones blue uniform running with ball about to take a hit Washington defender in the shot

Daniel Jones looked like a pretty good quarterback on Thursday night. Turns out he’s going to have to be even better than that if this Giants team is going to win.

Jones took advantage of some rare good protection in the second half and had what might have been his best game since his rookie season. The offense clicked in the second half and scored on five of its six drives.

But it didn’t matter, because the Giants’ defense is a shell of what it once was. The Washington Football Team came back and beat the Giants on a 43-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins at the buzzer. The final score was 30-29 and, for the eighth time in nine years, the Giants are 0-2.

Can’t blame Jones for this one, though. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown and ran nine times for 95 yards and a score. He actually would’ve had a second rushing touchdown – a 58-yarder – if it wasn’t for a very iffy hold by receiver C.J. Board at the Washington 12. And he would’ve thrown for a second touchdown if a wide open Darius Slayton hadn’t dropped a 43-yarder in the end zone in the fourth quarter.

Those certainly would’ve helped.

But at least the offense looked good, right? I know. It’s a small consolation. It got off to a great start, though. It was even creative. They flashed some pre-snap motion, the moved the pocket around to keep Jones out of trouble, they did some play-action and read-option to keep Washington off-balance. All that variety energized them and they put together a game-opening 11-play, 79-yard drive that lasted 6:05. Jones was 4 of 4 for 45 yards and ran three times for 23 yards, too.

After that, it took a while for them to get going again. After a gruesome injury to offensive lineman Nick Gates, the line took a while to settle down. Really, for the rest of the first half the only thing that was really working was when they called a Jones run. In fact, he had 82 of their first 216 yards of offense.

But he got that passing game going in the second half. He looked strong in the pocket and confident – not skittish at all. He didn’t look like a quarterback unsure of where to go with the football or worried about how much time he had to get rid of it. He even took a couple of shots deep in the second half, including a 33-yard touchdown to Slayton that was an absolutely perfect throw.

Unfortunately there were still a few mistakes and a few missed opportunities, and with the way the Giants’ defense is playing, the offense almost has to be perfect. Clearly they’re not there yet.

Here are some more takeaways from the Giants’ first win of the year …

  • Hopkins actually bailed the Giants out by missing what would’ve been a game-winning, 48-yard field goal. But Dexter Lawrence was offsides on the kick, which is just an absolutely inexcusable penalty. Of course, Hopkins made the re-kick from five yards closer. Of course he did. That was a lock.

  • The Giants’ defense overall just isn’t the same. They didn’t generate much of a pass rush. Their coverage was shaky. And for the second straight week they got carved up by a … let’s just say it wasn’t by a Pro Bowl quarterback. This time it was Taylor Heinicke, backup to the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick, who ripped them apart, going 34 of 46 for 336 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Those are just ridiculous numbers.

  • CB James Bradberry was a deserving Pro Bowler last season, but he just wasn’t playing well this season – until his remarkable interception with 2:16 left in the game. He came in from behind Washington receiver Terry McLaurin, leaned right around him and picked off Heinicke to set the Giants up at the Washington 20. Honestly, that should’ve won the game for the Giants right there. But ….

  • Right after that interception, what a terrible, terrible, terrible series by offensive coordinator Jason Garrett – and really Joe Judge too, since he was likely calling the shots on the strategy. They were clearly playing for the field goal. They didn’t even take one shot at the end zone or a first down. They ran Saquon Barkley twice and then Jones threw a pass to Sterling Shepard short of the first down (that Shepard dropped). That’s way too conservative when they had all that momentum, and they absolutely paid for it. At least take one shot at the end zone or try to keep the drive alive with a first down. Don’t just sit on it and play scared.

  • Way back in the first quarter, Gates suffered just an awful, awful leg injury. He was hurt so bad in the first quarter he needed to have his left leg placed in an air cast, and he needed to be put on a stretcher to be put on the cart. It was so bad that NFL Network refused to show it. The Giants called it a fractured lower leg. And it was gruesome. Suffice to say, as he was engaged with Washington DT Jonathan Allen, another player rolled up on his left leg. This will undoubtedly be a season-ending injury.

  • The old Barkley was back … for one run. He burst through a big hole on the right side of the Giants’ line in the first quarter and took off for a 41-yard run. He showed his old burst, quickness and speed and certainly got his sideline fired up. Unfortunately for him, that was pretty much it. At one point he had seven carries for 39 yards, which included that 41-yarder. He finished with 57 yards on 13 carries.

  • The Giants went to WR Kenny Golladay a lot more in this game than they did in the opener, though again they didn’t really start to force it until the second half. Golladay was targeted a total of eight times. But he only caught only three for 38 yards.

  • It’s pretty clear that right now Shepard is the Giants’ No. 1 receiver, or at least the one Jones trusts the most. He had nine catches for 94 yards. That followed his 7-113-1 performance on opening day.

  • I’m sure I saw rookie WR Kadarius Toney, the Giants’ first-round pick, on the field, and I think it was a lot more than the five snaps he took in the opener. But I don’t think there’s any evidence in the box score. I mean, he was their first round pick. Maybe throw to him a little? Or even just once?

  • Before the gruesome Gates injury, the Giants made some offensive line changes after they put left guard Shane Lemieux on injured reserve with his knee injury. Gates slid over to left guard and Billy Price took over at center. When Gates went down, Ben Bredeson, who played a lot in place of Lemieux a week ago, took over at left guard. It was, overall, a spotty performance. They gave up four sacks, though at least two were more coverage sacks. They had a lot of trouble up the middle dealing with Allen who had two of the sacks.

  • Price had several dangerously high snaps to Jones out of the shotgun. Jones caught them all, but clearly he’s got to work on that. In fairness to him, he hasn’t played a whole lot on offense since back in 2019.

  • Washington RB J.D. McKissic scored on a two-yard touchdown run right before halftime that was notable for the defense the Giants lined up in. They had a three-man front … on the goal-line … when it seemed pretty clear Washington was going to try to run it in. Worse, they had all the linebackers stacked on one side, which left an obvious, gaping hole for McKissic to run through to his left. Worse, the Giants called a timeout to set that up. Right before the timeout they had a more traditional goal-line look with seven men up along the line in the box.

  • Rookie Azeez Ojulari had a sack on the first drive. That was pretty much the extent of the Giants’ pass rush in this game.

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