The most important number for the Giants their past two games is this one: zero.
That is how many turnovers Daniel Jones committed in victories over Washington and the Eagles. As the Giants come out of their bye week Sunday to face the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, Jones’ ball security is likely to be the most critical ingredient in how the Giants fare down the stretch of the season.
“As an offense, there are a number of things we did better,’’ Jones said. “We consistently moved the ball. I think we ran the ball at an extremely high level, and that kept us in front of the chains and enabled us to sustain drives. Obviously, protecting the ball was a big part of that as well. That gives us a much better opportunity to win when we do that. We keep doing those things and then scoring touchdowns in the red zone. We’ve been more effective in that area as we’ve gone on this year. We’ll certainly look to continue to do those things for these last six games.’’
Jones had 13 turnovers (nine interceptions, four lost fumbles) in his first eight games and his holding steady with those totals after 10 games. It cannot be dismissed that this is a brand new offensive system for Jones, and all the other returning Giants players, and familiarity takes time to develop.
“I think that’s certainly a piece of it,’’ Jones said. “Just playing together more in this system and getting used to it, and getting more experience as a team, more experience playing with one another, that’s certainly been helpful. We feel like we’ve improved week to week. We feel like we’re a much better team than we were in the beginning of the season. The challenge is to continue to do that through the rest of the season.’’
The challenge is also to give Jones more than the Giants already have, as far as trusting him with the fine points of the entire offensive system. Perhaps they can lean on him a bit more in the final six games.
“Daniel’s a really smart person and he’s a really smart football player,’’ offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. “He’s getting more and more experience here over the first couple years of his career. The more experience he gets as a player at this level and also in this offense, the more exposure and responsibility he’ll have. But there’s never been a minute with him that you say, ‘Boy, he can’t handle it mentally,’ or, ‘He can’t handle it physically.’ ’’
The absence of TE Kaden Smith (on the reserve/COVID-19 list) takes away a blocking element in the running game. Expect Levine Toilolo’s snap count to rise as a result.
The Bengals might be without their top two running backs, with Joe Mixon on injured reserve with a foot injury and backup Giovani Bernard questionable with a concussion. If Bernard is unavailable, Samaje Perine is next on the list. … The Bengals will be shorthanded on their coaching staff, as two assistants — Nick Eason (defensive line) and Steve Jackson (secondary/cornerback) — will miss the game because of COVID-19 regulations.