WINNERSANDWINNERSCOM – The Daniel Jones era officially begins on Sunday when the New York Giants travel to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the news on Tuesday that the Giants had officially benched Eli Manning and named Jones as their new starting quarterback. The Giants have started the season 0-2 after losing back-to-back games to the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills.
The Buccaneers, on the other hand, bounced back with a huge Thursday night win over the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Jameis Winston was more efficient and avoided unnecessary turnovers on his way to leading the team to their first win of the season. Yet, the brunt of the credit should go to the defense shutting down Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense.
Eli Manning, the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, is officially taking a backseat to rookie Daniel Jones. The move isn’t surprising considering the Giants haven’t made it to the playoffs in three years, and they started the season off 0-2. Manning has done so much for that organization, but it was simply time to move in a different direction. Given how well Jones played in the preseason, this move had to be in cards for quite some time.
Some good news for Jones was receiver Sterling Shepard practicing on Wednesday after missing Week 2 with a concussion. There is hope he will be ready and available by Sunday’s kick-off. The rookie quarterback will need all hands on-deck when matching wits with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who is breathing new life in the Buccaneers’ defense.
We won’t have to wait long to see what Jones is made of going against a defense with such a stout front. They held a Carolina Panthers offense featuring Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey to only 39 total rushing yards. If Giants Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley struggles on the ground, Jones will have to step up and win with his arm.
There is no question the Buccaneers are lacking in talent on their roster, but a great hindrance to their success has been the inconsistent play at the quarterback position with Jameis Winston under center. The Buccaneers clearly missed when selecting him No. 1 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Yet, they have spent the last four years trying to make it work.
The team has only had one winning season with Winston at quarterback.
After throwing three interceptions in the season opener against San Francisco, Winston throttled it back significantly in Week 2 by attempting less passes and leaning on the run game. That could be the recipe for success moving forward with Winston acting more as a game manager instead of feigning as a gunslinger in the pocket. The Buccaneers are finally putting things together on the defensive side of the ball, and they are capable of playing a conservative brand of football as long as Winston limits the turnovers.
That will be key once again in Sunday’s game against the Giants. Expect to see the Buccaneers lean heavily on the legs of Peyton Barber in the backfield, while Winston looks to take advantage of small chunk plays. The Giants have proven susceptible to the ground game over the last couple weeks, and it should help the Buccaneers establish balance on offense right off the bat.
The Buccaneers defense has only allowed an average of 68.5 yards on the ground in the first two games of the season. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the Giants are coming into the game with a plan installed to protect their young quarterback. One of the ways of doing that is deferring a ton of carries to Barkley and putting faith in him to carry the load.
I’d bank on Bowles being prepared to counter that game plan by loading the box and forcing Jones to beat him with his arm. Say what you want about Bowles as a head coach, but the man knows how to coach great defense. He’ll be dialing up all sorts of trickery and exotic blitzes to try to throw Jones off in his first NFL start.
As always, the game will come down to Winston and the offense being efficient and careful with the football. The Buccaneers can’t afford to fall back into bad habits of Winston dropping back to throw 40-plus times in a game. However, I believe they’ve found a formula to at least be respectable, and they’ll do it well enough to get a win and ruin Jones’ debut.Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5)
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About the writer – Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he’s a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you’d have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from — just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.