Everyone knew that there would be growing pains for Daniel Jones.
But we didn’t expect growing pains from his head coach.
Pat Shurmur, a 27-21 loser to the Cardinals, didn’t have the Giants ready at the start of this game and gave them no chance to win at the end of the game.
Jones (six touchdowns, seven interceptions) had given the Cardinals 14 points on another interception and another fumble, and Shurmur’s horrific play-calling and endgame strategy sealed an inexcusable, abominable 27-21 defeat that even Ray Handley couldn’t have explained.
It was Cardinals 24, Giants 21, and Shurmur had already burned a timeout with 4:29 remaining (“I did not want to lose 45 seconds right there, that’s why,” Shurmur said) when Jones called a third-and-18 draw to Saquon Barkley at his 30 with a little over three minutes remaining.
“I had planned to go for it,” Shurmur said, “and we just didn’t execute the play as well as we liked.”
So this was two-down territory come hell or high water in Shurmur’s mind. So he was keeping his fingers crossed that Barkley might pop a big gain on a day when nine of his runs went for 2 yards or less, and four of them went for a loss.
Jones, as per instruction from the sideline, audibled to the draw when he noticed the Cardinals playing two-deep.
As wondrous as Barkley is, he averaged 4 yards per carry on a day when his offensive line surrendered eight sacks.
“I think it’s a great call,” said Barkley. “If they drop back, I think you got one of your best playmakers on the field with the ball in his hands.”
Barkley gained 3 yards.
“I want to get Saquon involved,” Shurmur said. “We’ve seen where he’s able to do that.”
Then it got worse.
Shurmur stayed rigid or stubborn, take your pick, and failed to adjust to the predicament confronting him.
On fourth-and-15, with two timeouts remaining, you punt the ball there, no ifs, ands or buts.
Shurmur was asked why no punt.
“Because it was gonna play out the way I thought,” Shurmur said.
“Stop ’em. Make ’em kick a field goal at the very least, then we go down and score a touchdown,” Shurmur said.
Jones was sacked and lost his second fumble of the afternoon.
What, Nostra-Shurmur worry?
“It played out exactly how I liked, or I would have hoped,” Shurmur said.
It played out exactly how he liked or would have hoped only because Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury played for the field goal that made it 27-21 with 2:09 left after Murray absentmindedly ran out of bounds on third down. On a day when Fordham’s Chase Edmonds (27-126-3 TDs) looked more like Barkley than Barkley did.
Jones got the ball back at his 12 with no timeouts remaining because Shurmur needed to call his second and third timeouts after the fourth-and-15 had failed.
Jones got the ball back at his 12 when rookie kick returner Darius Slayton decided to run it out of the end zone and only got to his 12 with 2:02 left.
“So we got a play before the two-minute [warning], which was good,” Shurmur said.
Right, an incompletion intended for Barkley.
Two plays later, Jones was sacked and lost another fumble.
The Giants bore no resemblance to a team with 10 days between games when they fell behind 17-0 in the first half. That’s on the coach too.
“There’s times when you start the game well,” Shurmur said, “and there’s times when you don’t.”
Jones didn’t with a bad third-down throw into double coverage that was intercepted by Jordan Hicks.
“Just a force,” Jones said. “I shouldn’t have thrown it.”
Shurmur didn’t with a pass interference challenge against Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins that he probably knew in his heart wouldn’t be overturned since they rarely are.
Ball security (five fumbles lost) remains a problem for Jones.
“I think I’m making progress in some areas, and still need to improve a lot in others,” Jones said. “Obviously, taking care of the ball is a big thing, and has been. To not do that today is disappointing. I have to get better there.”
Shurmur is 2-5, after 5-11 last season.
“People spend their hard-earned money to come sit in the rain to watch us do that … it’s unacceptable,” Golden Tate said.
Storm clouds over Nostra-Shurmur.
“We’re not gonna tank,” Tate said.
And there’s your ray of sunshine, Giants fans.