Giants need more than Daniel Jones’ best to conquer Cowboys

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Daniel Jones is as tough and courageous as any of them, willing to play hurt, willing to endure the pain and risk injury for his team. It doesn’t make him a hero; this is the unspoken pledge of allegiance the franchise quarterback is expected to make.

Eli Manning spoiled Giants fans as the NFL’s Cal Ripken Jr., playing through a slightly separated shoulder once and plantar fasciitis once during his 210-game Ironman streak. Just because the Giants still believe that Jones can be their Next Eli Manning hardly means that anyone is under the illusion he will show up to play each and every time there is a game on the schedule.

Jones missed two games as a rookie with a high ankle sprain and he has missed two games this season with hamstring and ankle injuries that, if you take him at his word, will continue to prevent him from being an RPO and zone-read threat and confine him to a pocket quarterback.

It has proven difficult enough for Jones when healthy to get his team in the end zone and score points.

Forget for a moment that the Cowboys are as defensively challenged as the Giants are offensively challenged.

With the season on the line Sunday against the Cowboys, this isn’t a time to expect miracles from Daniel Jones.

It is a time for every last one of his Giants teammates — and coaches — to rally around him with their best game of the season.

Give Daniel Jones help.

“I read Daniel’s comments yesterday,” Joe Judge said on his New Year’s Eve birthday, referring to Jones admitting his lack of mobility, “probably a little bit more forthcoming than I would have been with it right there. I’m gonna always put the player’s health in consideration of how we call the game.”

All hands on deck.

Speak now with your pads or forever home your peace.

Jones was sacked six times by the Cardinals and six times by the Ravens, and that cannot happen against the Cowboys on a day when the Giants, who have scored 26 points over their last three games and are averaging a 31st-ranked 17.1 per game, could need 24 points or more. Jason Garrett, calling plays for the first time since 2012, can silence some critics and ruin the start of Jerry Jones’ New Year with the mother of all game plans for a change.

“We have to run it better, we have to throw it better, we have to score more points, and we have to contribute to winning in other ways too by being more productive,” Garrett said.

Andy Dalton never will remind anyone of Lamar Jackson, but the Ravens rushed for 249 yards against Big Blue, and Ezekiel Elliott (calf bruise) looked healthier last week than he has in a while.

Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said this twice on Thursday: “We need to play our best game.”

General manager Dave Gettleman has forever believed in a stout defensive line, so Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence have to do their part to make sure that Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore isn’t feeding a hungry Elliott early and often and make life easier on tackling machine Blake Martinez, while setting the edge and better tackling are paramount.

Graham better figure out how to better scheme a pass rush — in 93 combined pass attempts by Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield and Jackson, heavens to Lawrence Taylor and Michael Strahan, the Giants have recorded two sacks.

Dalton played in big games in Cincinnati, even if his playoff record was 0-4, and he has Three Amigos — Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup — who are more explosive than any of Jones’ receivers.

“I think all three of these guys could fit into that label of being a top receiver for a team and a feature matchup guy,” Judge said.

The Giants knew they needed to start fast in Baltimore and could not. Jones cannot be put in a position where he is asked to play from behind, so it is imperative that Big Blue get him a short field or, even better, scores. Over this three-game losing streak, the Giants have one takeaway (fumble recovery). Are you listening Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers and James Bradberry?

“We have to go out there and have our best game on Sunday,” Judge said.

It would be immensely helpful if Jones and Darius Slayton can remember the chemistry they enjoyed last season and also in the first Cowboys game, when Slayton (8 catches, 129 yards) enjoyed his best game of the season, and Garrett is comfortable calling some deep shots.

“It’s going to take our best game on Sunday,” Jones said.

Jones attempting 41 passes last week was a recipe for disaster. To his credit, he didn’t commit a turnover, but any semblance of the Giants’ Super Bowl XXV game plan to keep a dangerous offense such as this one would be beneficial.

Consider the Giants’ rushing stats over the past three games: 78, 74 and 54 yards.

Consider the Giants’ time of possession over the past three games: 22:07, 25:57, 24:51.

No special teams foibles, either.

“We have to be at our best when our best is needed,” special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said.

Last but not least, Jones has to be at his ball security-best against a defense that has 10 takeaways during the Cowboys’ three-game win streak.

“The energy is through the roof,” Evan Engram said.

It better be. It has to be. From Daniel Jones, and from every last New York Football Giant.

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