Just because someone can do something doesn’t mean they should. The latest example to that age-old axiom: New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, who was absolutely brutal against the Los Angeles Rams — just seven days after suffering a head injury.
Daniel Jones was awful in Week 6
Jones — who staggered off the field in Week 5 and was ultimately carted to the locker room after taking a direct shot to the helmet — could have hardly played worse in Week 6 even if he was still concussed. He threw 3 interceptions and completed just 29 of 51 passes for 242 yards in a 38-11 home loss to the Rams.
His passer rating (44.7) was the second-worst of his career. And even with the game’s outcome long determined, Jones was still on the field taking hits.
“We’re going to compete for 60 minutes,” Giants coach Joe Judge said.
With Jones under center, there was nothing remotely competitive about how the Giants played. In fairness, the Giants’ offensive line was also terrible. But at least 1 of the 4 sacks Jones took was a function of holding onto the ball too long. Along with his 3 picks, Jones also fumbled twice, losing one of them. The Rams hit Jones 7 times.
Did concussion impact Jones’ play?
All of this raises the unavoidable question — was Jones’ performance a result of his injury?
We aren’t neurologists. And it doesn’t sound as though his concussion was severe. Jones told reporters after the game that he didn’t have any of the other symptoms last Sunday and passed all the tests.
Still, he was unable to practice Wednesday and worked only in a limited capacity Thursday before clearing the concussion protocol Friday and working fully. The average return to play is historically more than twice that long.
The NFL’s concussion protocol established a five-phase evaluation process for players diagnosed with one. For Jones to have been cleared to play Sunday, he must have cleared all five. The process includes rest, then light cardio, followed by football-specific exercise, then non-contact training drills.
“Neurocognitive and balance testing should be completed no later than the end of Phase Four with the results interpreted as back to baseline,” according to the NFL.
Once the concussed player meets that requirement and is cleared by a club physician for full football activity, he must still undergo an examination by the independent neurological consultant assigned to the club. If the INC agrees with the assessment of the team doctor, the injured player is allowed to play in the team’s next game.
Jones got all of that clearance. However, he did not have the full week of physical, and perhaps even mental, preparation. It’s not a surprise that he put together his worst game of the year (and maybe his career) on Sunday.
The Giants are now 1-5, and changes are coming. Jones, Judge, and general manager Dave Gettleman are all on notice. It would surprise no one if all three are gone after this season.