Daniel Jones is stuck in the Giants’ offensive line nightmare

The Giants want Daniel Jones to learn how to get the ball out of his hand quicker.

They don’t want the rookie quarterback’s internal clock sped up because he fears for his safety.

Jones was protected in his first career start by two tackles (Nate Solder and Mike Remmers) who have played more than 12,000 combined career NFL snaps. Eight games later, he was behind a left tackle (Nick Gates) making his first start and a right tackle (Eric Smith) playing his first game.

“It’s not the best going in there when you are cold,” Gates said. “But that’s why you prepare early in the week like you are going to get thrown in there. I’m the sixth man. If someone goes down, I’ll play that week — anywhere but center.”

Smith accidentally sounded alarms about the Giants’ preparation Sunday by indicating he had not practiced at left tackle — only at tight end in the short-yardage package — since joining the team off waivers.

The corrected version is Smith took all of his limited full-speed live practice reps at right tackle during his first 10 weeks with the Giants. His only action at left tackle was on scout team during the half-speed walk-throughs.

“There’s only so much you can do,” coach Pat Shurmur said of working backups within practice time constraints.

As the No. 4 tackle, Smith was inactive for the Giants’ first nine games. Gates started in place of Remmers and Smith bumped into the role as the swing tackle pressed into duty when Solder — who had not missed a snap in his first 25 games with the Giants — was ruled out.

The Giants allowed six sacks (three by Smith) to a Jets defense that totaled 13 in its first eight games.

“The mistakes I made were technical,” Smith said. “Little things that could easily could be fixed. If I couldn’t do it, then I would be worried. When you go to the sideline and your coach is like, ‘Just do this. Or just do that,’ that gives you confidence as a young player.”

The Giants (2-8) are on a well-timed bye week, and Solder (concussion), Remmers (back) or both could be back Nov. 24 at the Bears. If not, Gates and Smith will face a top-10 defense anchored by the fearsome Khalil Mack.

Yikes. Imagine play-callers salivating over ways to attack the edges.

“We’re young. We don’t have a lot of experience. If I was a coach, I’d do the same exact thing,” Gates said. “I’ll still look at my playbook and watch some film [on the bye]. I’ll be in my playbook a little more than I would have been.”

Daniel Jones
Daniel JonesCharles Wenzelberg

How can the inexperienced Jones help his less-experienced tackles?

“Just to communicate and be on the same page going into the game, I think we’ll feel confident with whoever is out there,” Jones said. “In a more general sense, I need to work on getting the ball out sooner at times.”

Smith was a lifelong right tackle until the Dolphins and Patriots practiced him on the other side when he entered the NFL in 2017. Left tackle was his primary position with the Jets this preseason before he was cut.

“We drill at it, so my coach was able to trust me,” Smith said. “There was never any hesitation with putting me in there because I can do it.”

With a week of first-team practice, Gates graded out well, allowing two pressures on 54 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

Smith looked like a first-timer, beginning when he didn’t see Solder’s injury and was surprised to be called upon.

“I was very timid in the first half,” Smith said. “I ended up giving up a sack going into the half. Everybody was on me to make me sure I’m not in my head beating myself up. I was in the locker room staying hyped. I settled down a little bit.”

Shurmur said the Giants offered blocking help — a double-teaming or chip-blocking running back or tight end — to Smith, but it doesn’t look that way often enough on film. Certainly not on the third-and-12 sack in the shadow of the end zone that essentially ended any Giants’ comeback hopes.

“That’s one of those times you put it on your back as an offensive lineman,” Smith said. “We are backed up. What are you going to do? I knew I had a bunch of eyes on me. I tried my best. It was definitely disappointing to give up a sack in that situation.”

It’s possible Gates and Smith could swap sides to make both comfortable, but that wasn’t the case in Tuesday’s walk-through.

“How I was raised is you take challenges and run with them,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

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