Was what Daniel Jones and the first-team Giants offense accomplished Thursday during a joint practice with the Jets enough to convince coach Brian Daboll that he has seen enough and does not need to use his starters in the preseason finale?
Tune in Sunday, but there is no doubt the sight of a different set of jerseys on the grass field at his familiar team facility brought out the best in Jones.
“I thought overall it was a pretty good day,’’ Jones said. “I thought we executed well against their stuff, going against a new defense.’’
Consider this an understatement.
Jones completed 14 of his 15 passes in the team periods. His stretch of 14 consecutive completions ended on his final throw, as he lobbed the ball into the left corner of the end zone, looking for Kenny Golladay, but the ball was intercepted by cornerback Bryce Hall.
Throughout a summer of ups and downs, this was an “up’’ for Jones.
The start of the day was exactly what the Giants needed to get off to a rollicking start. There were 10 passes in the seven-on-seven period and three Giants quarterbacks completed all 10 of them. This particular passing drill is designed to heavily favor the offense — the quarterback has clear and unimpeded vision for every throw — but it is not as if the Giants’ offense earlier this summer enjoyed such success against its own defense.
Jones was five-for-five, Tyrod Taylor was three-for-three and Davis Webb was two-for-two during the seven-on-seven period. The highlight came when Jones threw the ball up for Golladay and he did exactly what he has not done enough of during training camp. Golladay extended every bit of his 6-foot-4 frame and wingspan to leap over cornerback D.J. Reed, making the grab on the right sideline.
“Felt really good about the way we started — Dabes always talks about starting fast — that kind of kick-started us,’’ receiver David Sills said.
“It always helps early on in a drive or a period of practice, getting a couple of completions and feeling the rhythm — kind of get going and I thought we did that well,’’ Jones said. “I think this offense is largely predicated on that timing and knowing where and when guys are going to be open and getting off reads in time to get the ball to someone else. I thought we did a good job with that and I think we’re all getting more comfortable.’’
This was the appetizer for a tasty main course for Jones. Sure, there was a healthy number of short and intermediate throws that should be completed at a high percentage. On one play, Jones hit rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger, but the pass in a real game would never have been launched, as Jones faced pressure in the pocket, with defensive lineman John Franklin-Meyers beating right tackle Evan Neal for what would have been a sack. Jones actually hit the ground, which is a no-no in these practices.
Mostly, though, he got the ball out of his hand fairly quickly and his offensive line fended off the Jets’ front group.
Jones rolled to his left and threw across the field to Sills for a nice gain. This was a trend. Sills caught five passes in the 11-on-11 periods. Jones on a well-timed toss found Sills and got the ball to his target just before cornerback Michael Carter raced in attempting to break up the play.
Sills said the players in the wide receiver room were “really hyped up, had music going and everything’’ before this practice.
The most eye-catching moment might have been with Taylor operating the second-team offense. He spotted tight end Tanner Hudson running free straight up the middle of the field and hit him in stride for what would have been a long touchdown pass play. This is the sort of dynamism the Giants have not seen at all this summer out of their depth-starved tight end position and it was achieved by Hudson, who signed with the team earlier in the day and was participating in his first practice.
The new looks presented by the Jets made Jones and his mates look good.
“We come out here, we practice against a different look than we have been seeing every day,’’ Daboll said. “And that’s the advantage of practicing against another team.’’
It turned out to be an advantage for Jones and the passing game.
“The tempo does pick up a little bit and you’re going against guys you haven’t seen against guys as much,’’ Jones said.
The tempo picked up and so did Jones, perhaps showing enough to make him a spectator when the Giants face the Jets on Sunday.
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