New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones entered his third career season needing to prove himself and show he’s the team’s long-term hope behind center. So far, things haven’t gone how he or his team might have envisioned.
Although Jones flashed at times in the season’s first two weeks, an inconsistent offense and a flawed defense held the team back in losses against the Denver Broncos and Washington Football Team. Now, the Giants are dealing with news which represents a substantial blow to the dual-threat quarterback’s hopes of making it in New York.
Giants offensive lineman Nick Gates may have suffered a career-ending injury in Week 2
The Giants were a few plays away from leaving Washington with a Week 2 victory and an elusive 1-1 record. However, a late penalty and Dustin Hopkins’ game-winning field goal didn’t represent the only heartbreak Big Blue endured on Sept. 16.
Third-year offensive lineman and team captain Nick Gates suffered a fractured leg in the first quarter of the Giants’ eventual 30-29 loss. He was carted off the field following a play that the NFL Network’s TV broadcast refused to show on replays.
Gates, who had surgery the next day, hopes he can return to the field. According to USA Today, Giants coach Joe Judge is preparing for the worst, which in this case would be a career-ending injury.
“I know there’s comparisons to other players; these things are all different. I know he’s going to have the best medical care possible … so we’re confident he’s going to be able to come back. My fear, for any guy who has something like this, is yes, it can be career-ending.”Joe Judge
While his long-term health takes priority here, Jones’ development could suffer a significant blow if Gates has played his final down. The Nebraska product primarily played center before moving to left guard in Week 2, and Billy Price, a former first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, started at center that night.
The Giants have historically struggled to keep Jones on his feet
The vast majority of quarterbacks cannot and will not develop if they are not playing behind a competent offensive line. For every Russell Wilson who can overcome the odds, the likes of David Carr are a reminder of what can go wrong.
Opposing defenses sacked Jones 83 times in his first 26 career games, an average of three sacks per game. He’s already been brought down to the ground six times this year, putting him on pace for a career-high 51 sacks taken. A young quarterback will find the road to succeeding extremely challenging if he’s being hit and taken down that often.
Not all of those sacks are on his offensive line. There have been times when Jones, like every other quarterback, will hold the ball too long or where a play falls apart for several reasons. The reality of things, fair or not, is that the Giants’ offensive line has not set its quarterback up to thrive or stay healthy.
Gates, while not a household name yet, showed enough last year to start all 16 games and earn captaincy. Whatever the Giants do this season, and potentially going forward, will be without an offensive lineman who was growing into an important piece in keeping Jones on his feet.
History is repeating for the Giants early in the 2021 season
Outside of the sacks and the two losses, Jones’ numbers are actually on the uptick. He completed 63.8% of his passes in his first two games for 516 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Duke product has also rushed for 122 yards and two scores on 8.1 yards per attempt thus far.
Still, it’s hard to view all of that positively when considering all of the Giants’ other problems. Star running back Saquon Barkley hasn’t looked like his old self in his return from an ACL injury, and part of that falls on the team’s run blocking. Rookie receiver Kadarius Toney, the 20th overall pick earlier this year, is nowhere to be found on offense.
The Giants, one of the league’s worst teams in recent years, started 0-2 for the fifth straight season. Each day is a reminder of how far this franchise is from watching Eli Manning and Tom Brady battle it out in the Super Bowl.
The Giants fan with a glass half full can at least point to Jones’ lack of interceptions and second-year left tackle Andrew Thomas’ improved play. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope the porous offensive line can keep that fan from dropping the glass onto his foot.