PHILADELPHIA — Daniel Jones’ primary job this season was to protect the ball.
He did that, earned more trust from Brian Daboll, and took off as the Giants’ quarterback in Year 4.
Saturday night’s first quarter interception to ex-teammate and Eagles corner James Bradberry, however, conjured flashbacks of the old Jones entering his free agent offseason.
Under pressure from blitzing slot corner C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Jones fired to Darius Slayton on a curl route to his left. Bradberry jumped the pass and intercepted it at the Giants’ 46 yard line with 27 seconds left in the first quarter.
The offensive line played a part in the turnover, of course, with Gardner-Johnson racing right past left guard Nick Gates to hassle the Giants QB.
But Jones had thrown only one interception in his last seven games and turned the ball over a total of eight times in 17 starts this season, including a clean Wild Card win in Minnesota.
That included five interceptions and three lost fumbles.
And the Giants still had played on a razor’s edge this season and won several close games in their 6-1 start that became the primary reason for their postseason berth.
Daboll had set a poor tone on the Giants’ first drive by going for it on 4th and 8 from the Eagles’ 40 yard line, trailing 7-0, and seeing Jones sacked for a second straight play by Haason Reddick.
And Jones’ interception compounded the coach’s mistake with a second straight offensive turnover to start the game for the Giants.
Before they knew it, the Giants were down 28-0 at halftime, outgained 258 to 64 by Philadelphia.
Jones’ run attempts were limited mainly because the Giants didn’t run that many plays. They only had the ball for 9:48 in the first half compared to the Eagles’ 20:12.
Saturday’s 38-7 blowout loss likely won’t shift the momentum for Giants ownership to believe in Jones (15 of 27 for 135 yards Saturday night and the INT) and want him back in 2023 — especially since the team’s primary issue is a personnel deficiency due to years of poor management prior.
But it will have to go into the final evaluation about what the Giants feel he is worth as the franchise tag discussions and possible contract extension conversations take place.
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