There is the ideal way to break in a young quarterback, blueprinted for Tom Brady and copied by Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
And there is the way the Giants are forced to do it with Daniel Jones.
If the Giants are going to make a surprising playoff run, it likely will be on the back of Jones and not with him complementing other team strengths. So he hasn’t been able to pile up wins and other confidence-boosters early in his career like many Hall of Famers.
“Just think about how many of those guys were able to have high degrees of success before they had to truly carry a team,” coach Joe Judge said. “Think about those real great ones who are going to be wearing gold jackets and played in this league for 15-20 years: How many of those guys have the benefit early in their career of working with teams that were either carried more by defense or run game or a great arsenal of guys around him who supported him?”
The NFL banned cheerleaders from the field this year, but the Giants want Jones to listen to one of their favorite pearls of wisdom: Be aggressive! B-E aggressive! Be aggressive!
Jones’ struggles with turnovers continued in his 14th career start — throwing two interceptions in a 26-16 loss to the Steelers — but Judge isn’t going to strap on the handcuffs and turn his playmaker into a game-manager beginning Sunday against the Bears. Not with an unproven defense, an offensive line hampering Saquon Barkley’s ability to run and an injury-plagued receiving corps on a roster with two former Pro Bowlers outside of special teams.
“You can be aggressive and at the same time make the right decisions,” Judge said. “As a quarterback, you can’t be effective in this league if you are playing cautious, if you are playing scared. You have to be aggressive. As a coach, what you can never do is take away the teeth of your players by pumping the brakes on them a little bit.”
Jones is the only quarterback in NFL history with three games of four touchdown passes or more and no interceptions as a rookie.
“It’s our job to instruct them, coach them and give them keys to help them develop,” Judge said. “Everyone is going to make mistakes at certain points. The important thing is not to repeat the mistakes. You can’t take away the aggressiveness of any player. Ultimately, that’s going to weaken them — and that’s not good coaching.”
Despite all the attention focused on Jones’ end-zone interception when he should’ve thrown the ball away, another telling play happened earlier in the fruitless 19-play drive. Jones scrambled for a 4-yard gain on third-and-5 but didn’t stretch the ball past the chains before stepping out of bounds. Did he shy away from leaving it vulnerable to a strip because he led the NFL with 18 fumbles and 11 lost last season?
“It’s something Coach Judge has emphasized: We are not going to stretch the ball out in those situations unless it’s fourth down or something where it’s absolutely necessary to get the yard, and the risk is worth it,” Jones said. “Protecting the ball is certainly the most important.”
The Giants are facing this week a good example of what they hope is not Jones’ future. Mitchell Trubisky went 4-8 as a rookie, 11-3 as a Pro Bowler in his second year and has had a tenuous grip on the starting job since early last season, with the Bears’ true feelings best expressed by declining their fifth-year contractual option for 2021.
“Playing quarterback in the NFL is the toughest job in all of professional sports,” Judge said.
One positive sign for Jones’ development: He isn’t easily flustered by mistakes.
“He’s really steady with the highs and the lows,” Jones’ favorite target, Darius Slayton, said. “I know he’s hard on himself. He wants to be perfect. But he does a good job of keeping himself even-keel.”
Wayne Gallman embracing what could be his last Giants chance
It’s déjà vu with a twist for Wayne Gallman.
One year ago, an early-season injury to Saquon Barkley opened a door for Gallman, who answered the call at first, but strangely was buried on the bench for the final five games. Now, another injury to Barkley has created another opportunity for Gallman just as he was in danger of again becoming invisible much earlier in this season.
Gallman could make the big leap from unexpected healthy inactive last week against the Bears to starter Sunday against the 49ers, with a final chance to make something promising of his Giants career before entering free agency.
“I’m not making goals,” Gallman told The Post. “I’m going in trusting the line, trusting the offense and trusting what we’ve done in practice. That’s all I can do. If you put in hard work, the results will come.”
Like all football teams, the Giants preach a Next Man Up philosophy. It just doesn’t seem to apply to Gallman.
Gallman totaled 118 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in the first game without Barkley last season. Then he suffered a concussion before he could prove his performance repeatable, was replaced as Barkley’s backup by Buck Allen and managed four offensive touches from Oct. 27 onward. He didn’t dwell on the mystery ending in the offseason.
“I just shifted my focus to what’s more important and that’s preparing myself to be ready for anything, whether that’s starting or staying in a backup role,” Gallman said. “There’s really not much I can do except controlling what I can control.”
Before testing Gallman as lead running back this week, the Giants signed former Pro Bowler Devonta Freeman. After only three practices, Freeman is expected to be part of a rotation with Gallman on first downs and Dion Lewis in passing situations.
“Wayne’s got that long speed, get him ranging out and get him really moving,” coach Joe Judge said. “Every player has a role. Anybody coming in doesn’t replace somebody else who’s already here. They just add to our team.”
If Gallman feels cheated, he isn’t letting on.
“I look at it as another opportunity to learn from a vet,” Gallman said. “Devonta has been in this league a long time and I used to watch him all the time in the good old Clemson-Florida State rivalry. We’re all in it as a group.”
The fresh start provided by a first-year coaching staff was supposed to benefit Gallman. But the Giants’ decision to dress only Barkley, Lewis and fullback Eli Penny last week suggested otherwise.
“My drive is to get better each day and be the best Wayne,” Gallman said. “There’s so much to the league that you can only understand so much. Everything will work out the way it should be.”
The likeliest reasons for Gallman’s bit role are his continued struggles with drops as a pass-catcher, his minimal role on special teams and the constant change around him. If new regimes tend to favor their hand-picked players … well … Gallman has had three head coaches, two position coaches and two general managers since he was a fourth-round pick in 2017.
“He’s attacked every single day, especially this camp, and has always stayed ready,” said tight end and close friend Evan Engram. “Wayne is a real laid-back guy. He definitely understands the opportunity that presents itself, but he’s attacking the work the way he always has.”
Gallman tried his hand as a gunner during training camp but didn’t stick. His special teams snaps dropped from 174 as a rookie to 84 to 17 under coordinator Thomas McGaughey last season — and that’s the easiest path to game day for backup running backs.
But maybe he is the starter at long last.
“I feel like I can make an impact with anything given,” Gallman said. “You don’t specifically try to get better in one area. You try to get better in all areas. I’m willing to do whatever I can to contribute to the Giants. With T-Mac, I don’t think you go up to the coach and ask. It’s more what you earn and what’s in the game plan.”
Joe Tsai glad Nets’ Steve Nash hire led to ‘white privilege’ debate
Nets owner Joe Tsai said he was glad Steve Nash’s hiring as Brooklyn’s coach created a discussion about “white privilege,’’ but believes the argument doesn’t hold up.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on the air that “white privilege’’ was at work in the Nets’ choice of Nash, the Hall of Fame point guard, because his lone coaching experience was as a part-time skills instructor for the Warriors.
The charge created a national firestorm after the announcement on Sept. 3 — and Tsai actually loved it.
“The example [Smith] uses in this particular case is misapplied, but having that conversation is important,’’ Tsai said on a Yale University podcast posted Friday. “So I think this is a very good example of, rather than just shouting at each other, we understand white privilege is an issue and needs to be talked about. But in this case, it doesn’t apply because Steve Nash is the best person for the job. But we’re not afraid to talk about it.”
Tsai said he was proud of Nash for adeptly responding during the press conference earlier this month to the assertion he wasn’t qualified for this job, despite being one of the smartest floor generals in NBA history.
“When Steve Nash was put on the spot during the press conference, the direct question was: ‘Did you get your job because of white privilege?’ ’’ Tsai said. “What Steve said was very sensible and sensitive. ‘Yes, I’ve been the beneficiary of that, but I don’t think that’s an issue that applies in this particular case. But we need to have this conversation.’ ”
Those were Tsai’s first public remarks regarding the stunning Nash hiring that was fully endorsed by Nets superstar Kevin Durant, who is black. The firestorm included support for Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who is black. Vaughn posted a 58-158 record as Magic head coach between 2012-15 and his Nets were swept in the first round of the bubble playoffs by the Raptors in August.
“Steve Nash is a two-time MVP — one of the most talented point guards that ever played basketball,’’ Tsai said. “It was an incredible get for us to be able to convince him to come in and coach our team. The problem is Steve Nash is white. In the context of social justice discussion in the nation, we came under a little bit of criticism.”
Tsai, whose Nets are expected to contend for the Eastern Conference title, wants to continue to be accessible to Nets fans in every way.
“I started a Twitter account a few years ago so I can communicate directly with our fans,’’ Tsai said. “Up to that point, I had never used Twitter. I didn’t think it was important to me. I can’t understand the idea of limiting the number of words you can post on social media. Because of the Nets, I now have a Twitter account.”
Tsai boasts 23,000 followers.
Man accused of breaking into Brewers’ Miller Park takes tractor ride
Breaking and entering and, riding a tractor?
Keyon A. Lambert was charged with a felony count of criminal damage to property and misdemeanor disorderly conduct in June after he was accused of breaking into the Brewers’ Miller Park in Milwaukee at taking a joyride on a tractor.
A criminal complaint details how the 40-year-old Lambert tried to carve his name in cursive on the field. The damages for the offense amounted to $40,000. WISN, an ABC-affiliated station in Milwaukee, obtained footage of Lambert on the tractor digging holes in the grass and dirt before the Milwaukee resident ran the bases – backward – to complete his destructive escapade.
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