Daniel Jones can create magic with enough time in the pocket. The Giants’ quarterback is one of just four players since 2000 to sling at least four touchdown passes in multiple games as a rookie. He’s had three games with a passer rating of at least 112.0 and averaged more than six yards per carry when flushed from the pocket.
He’s also fumbled the ball 13 times in nine games. He’s recovered just two of those. He’s averaged 1.63 fumbles per start, a 23-fumble pace that would both break the rookie record of 21 (currently held by Tony Banks and Warren Moon) and tie the NFL single-season mark (held by Daunte Culpepper and former Giant Kerry Collins).
The 2019 No. 6 overall pick has buttressed his big efforts with a growing inability to protect the ball. He fumbled 10 times (TEN!) in a four-game stretch from Week 7 to Week 10. New York lost all four of those games, three by seven points or fewer. No team in the league has more fumbles than the Giants, either.
Not all Jones’ fumbles are created equal. Some have no net effect on the outcome of the game. Others have completely hamstrung New York’s comeback efforts. So which has been the worst?
Here’s the list, ranging from least damaging to most devastating. I’ve included timestamps in case you’d like to go back and relive all these glorious fumbles yourself. And, barring an extreme reversal of fortunes, I’ll have plenty of updates as 2019 wears on.
Jones found a way to fall on these balls for minimal losses. An incomplete pass is effectively the best-case scenario for a Jones fumble. This happens only seven percent of the time, because he’s typically staring into the heavens trying to figure out what went wrong while much larger men scramble for the ball around him.
17. Week 13 vs. the Packers, second-and-10 at the GB 45
11:51 - fourth quarter: This one wasn’t a self-recovery, but it also wasn’t his fault. Jones pitched the ball to Da’Mari Scott, who failed to corral it and then jumped on his dropped ball eight yards behind the line of scrimmage. This one was officially credited to the rookie quarterback, but was more a failure on Scott’s end than anything Jones did wrong.
16. Week 10 vs. the Jets, first-and-10 at the NYJ 45
7:08 - second quarter: Jones dropped an on-target snap, picked it up, and heaved it out of bounds for no gain.
15. Week 8 vs. the Lions, first-and-10 at the DET 43
8:44 - fourth quarter: Jones was sacked by Trey Flowers for -8 yards, fumbled, and then recovered the ball for a net loss of 12 yards.
The team recoveries
Giants offensive linemen and running backs, in an act of contrition for allowing Jones to get lambasted, jumped on these balls to retain possession.
14. Week 10 vs. the Jets, third-and-8 at the NYG 20
6:27 - first quarter: Jones was sacked by Jamal Adams for -8 yards and fumbled. Saquon Barkley recovered for a net loss of 12 yards.
Barkley showed an especially impressive display of quick reflexes:
But he loses points for having his missed block be the very reason for the fumble in the first place.
13. Week 7 vs. the Cardinals, first-and-10 at the NYG 23
1:38 - fourth quarter: Jones was sacked by Terrell Suggs for -9 yards and fumbled. Nate Solder recovered for a net loss of 14 yards.
The meaningless, end of game fumbles
These fumbles didn’t really matter since they happened late in games the Giants had no chance of winning. They’re concerning nonetheless. And, somehow, they both came against NFC East rival Dallas.
12. Week 9 vs. the Cowboys, first-and-10 at the DAL 24
0:06 - fourth quarter: Jones stripped was by Dorance Armstrong. Jourdan Lewis picked it up for a 63-yard fumble recovery touchdown.
Jourdan Lewis putting the cherry on the sundae for the Cowboys with his first career touchdown coming on a scoop and score. pic.twitter.com/8xsiAkNwpm— Jay Sarkar (@ByJaySarkar) November 5, 2019
This was the result of last-gasp efforts on the final play of a loss. Ball security doesn’t matter when you’re trying to lateral your way 80+ yards downfield in six seconds.
11. Week 1 vs. the Cowboys, third-and-4 at the DAL 44
1:25 - fourth quarter: Jones scrambled for 5 yards, was hit by Leighton Vander Esch and fumbled. Chidobe Awuzie recovered for no gain and the Cowboys kneeled out the clock soon after.
And this was Jones’ fifth NFL snap, which is ... not ideal. Still, he was trailing 35-17 with less than 90 seconds to play at the time, so it’s not like it resulted in anything worse than a few embarrassing minutes of film review the following week.
The Shaquil Barrett incident
Barrett was a man possessed over the first quarter of the season, recording nine sacks in the first four games of the season. Four of those came against Jones, including two strip sacks.
10. Week 3 vs. the Buccaneers, second-and-9 at the NYG 40
10:36 - fourth quarter: Jones was sacked for -5 yards by Barrett and fumbled. Rakeem Nunez-Roches recovered.
9. Week 3 vs. the Buccaneers, first-and-10 at the NYG 45
2:22 - second quarter: Jones was sacked for -8 yards by Barrett and fumbled. Carl Nassib recovered.
Barrett even had a third strip sack overturned after review, but that effort wasn’t enough to keep the Giants down. New York won that game 32-31, setting off a brief explosion of appreciation for general manager Dave Gettleman’s drafting prowess (it did not last).
The meaningful turnovers
These fumbles made an impact in close games, ceding vital momentum to opponents who’d eventually beat the Giants.
8. Week 9 vs. the Cowboys, third-and-6 at the NYG 39
7:42 - third quarter: Jones scrambled for 6 yards, was hit by Xavier Woods, and fumbled. Darian Thompson recovered.
Jones made the right decision to escape traffic in the pocket and scramble toward a first down. Then, as he dove toward a fresh set of downs, a little pressure from safety Xavier Woods was enough to squirt the ball five yards downfield and right into the Cowboys’ arms. Jones throwing his arms out in vain as the ball trickles away from him is a pretty representative image of the Giants’ 2019 as a whole.
7. Week 7 vs. the Cardinals fourth-and-15 at the NYG 33
2:35 - fourth quarter: Jones was sacked by Patrick Peterson for -10 yards and fumbled. Haason Reddick recovered.
This one effectively clinched the game for the Cardinals, but it’s tough to imagine Jones doing anything over than shattering into a thousand pieces in the face of Peterson’s completely untouched cornerback blitz. Arizona went on to win this game 27-21.
6. Week 12 vs. the Bears, first-and-10 at the NYG 23
6:54 - third quarter: Jones was sacked by Khalil Mack for -9 yards and fumbled. Nick Williams recovered.
i have this one as the 4th-worst Daniel Jones fumble of the year (he has 14 of them) pic.twitter.com/nX54YGJDvK— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) November 24, 2019
This was a backbreaker. The Bears’ sputtering offense had just kicked a field goal to make the score 13-7, and the Giants needed a big counterpunch to prove they wouldn’t go away quietly. Instead, their follow-up drive lasted one play and gave Chicago the ball three yards from the goal line. Three plays later, Mitchell Trubisky would run for a touchdown to give his team a two-possession lead and chop New York’s win probability down to single digits.
5. Week 7 vs. the Cardinals, second-and-8 at the ARI 37
7:33 - third quarter: Jones was sacked by Chandler Jones for -12 yards and fumbled. Chandler Jones recovered.
6.5 sacks— Arizona Cardinals ⋈ (@AZCardinals) October 20, 2019
4 forced fumbles
3 fumble recoveries
If you don't know his name yet, you should learn it pretty quickly. pic.twitter.com/SKomFzySB2
This was a teachable moment for Daniel Jones. He learned he’s much slower moving backward than Chandler Jones (no relation) is going forward. The idea the Cardinal defender was only 45 degrees to Jones’ right and still managed to get seven yards into the backfield without the quarterback seeing him is borderline inexplicable. Arizona turned this opportunity into a touchdown three plays later, and Jones (the edge rusher) bolstered his case for defensive player of the year honors.
4 AND 3. Week 17 vs. the Eagles, second-and-8 at the NYG 27
13:12 - fourth quarter: New York didn’t have any playoff expectations in their season finale (obviously), but Jones could still play spoiler to Philadelphia’s playoff hopes by engineering an upset win at home. His Giants only trailed by three when he took a snap from his own territory out of the shotgun formation. It went ... poorly.
The rookie dropped the snap, which counted officially as his first fumble of the play, and picked it up for a self recovery. Unfortunately for Jones and the Giants, he failed to secure it as a ravenous Eagles pass rush burst through his offensive line, forcing a second fumble (again ... ON ONE PLAY). The ball shot backwards a good 20 yards before Fletcher Cox could dive on it near the New York goal line. One play later, Boston Scott dove into the end zone to give Philly a 27-17 fourth quarter lead.
The second-worst fumble return touchdown
In true 2019 Giants fashion, this preventable turnover is made possible by a complete blocking breakdown up front. No player in the league has lost more yardage via sacks than Jones, who’s been good for an average of -31 yards per start thanks to oncoming pressure.
2. Week 8 vs. the Lions, first-and-10 at the NYG 29
7:12 - first quarter: Jones threw a lateral pass under pressure. Devon Kennard recovered for a 13-yard fumble return touchdown.
Jones’ intentions were pure. A safety valve dump-off to Barkley would have defused the Lions’ blitz here, even if Detroit had a man closing quickly on the reigning offensive rookie of the year. The bad news is Jarrad Davis’ unabated run up the middle kept that pass from:
a) being completed, or
b) moving forward
And it gave former Giant Devon Kennard an easy scoop-and-score.
The worst: Jamal Adams dad-strengths away a touchdown
The worst ... so far. The Giants have been ravaged by injuries to both their offensive linemen and the quick-hit targets who could bail Jones out of trouble when pressure comes. It’s not a stretch to suggest Jones’ fumbling issues may not get any better to finish his rookie campaign.
1. Week 10 vs. the Jets, third-and-1 at the NYG 34
14:13 - third quarter: Jones, uh ...
Jamal Adams ... just took the ball. Grabbed it right out of Jones’ hands. He didn’t even have to try that hard, really.
Adams returned the fumble 25 yards for a touchdown. The Jets went on to win this game by seven points. That is some extreme little brother stuff from the Giants.