Thursday night's 35-14 loss to the Patriots was the worst game of quarterback Daniel Jones' brief NFL career. The rookie went 15-for-31 passing for 161 yards and a touchdown, but threw three interceptions, equaling the total he had in his first three starts combined.
Jones talked after the game about how he wanted and needed to play better, and after a night to think about the performance, his tune hadn't changed all that much. He also acknowledged that each interception was due to a preventable, and correctable, error.
"I think each one of those mistakes are different problems and need to be addressed independently," Jones said. "The first one was a late force, the second one I need to get rid of the ball and throw it away sooner and the third one was just a bad decision and a bad read."
There's no doubt that any rookie quarterback is going to need some time to adjust to playing the game at its highest level. While Jones agrees, he's not planning on using his age or inexperience as a crutch.
"The biggest thing for me is to prevent making a mistake twice," Jones said. "I don't think the fact that I'm young or the fact I haven't played as much isn't an excuse. I'm not going to use that to help myself feel better. They're still really bad mistakes and things I can't afford to do. I need to be able to learn from those and prevent them from happening again."
As head coach Pat Shurmur sees it, everything that Jones goes through, whether it's success or adversity, is part of the Duke product's process of learning how to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
"This has been a great month for him in terms of learning how to play in this league," Shurmur said. "Each week we talk about how the defense we're playing is better than the defense we played before. Certainly the last two defenses were top five in the league and prior to that we were playing two pretty good defenses as well. So I think he's learned a lot this last month."
Jones excelled in the preseason before leading the Giants to regular season wins against Tampa Bay and Washington to begin his career as an NFL starter. But facing defenses coached by Mike Zimmer and Bill Belichick, both regarded as defensive wizards around the league, it's no surprise Jones took a step back, at least on the stat sheet. But showing the poise of a quarterback well beyond his years, the rookie once again refused to make excuses.
"I felt like both games we were well prepared," Jones said. "We had a good idea of what to expect and knew what we wanted to do going in. They're both good defenses but we've got to play better. I've got to play better."
His next chance to do so comes in Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 20.