A new age starts Sunday for the New York Giants (0-2) as they head to Tampa to face the Buccaneers.
With Daniel Jones becoming just the second-different quarterback other than Eli Manning to start a game since Week 10 of the 2004 season, it’s safe to say the Giants offense is going to look quite different.
Looking for their first victory of the season, they’ll face an inconsistent Buccaneers team (1-1) that shook off a miserable season opener to the San Francisco 49ers with a Thursday-night Week 2 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Here are two things to watch for on Sunday afternoon:
The Dawn of Daniel
Daniel Jones will make his first career NFL start on Sunday — in case you’ve been living under a rock this week.
The Duke product spent just two weeks as Eli Manning’s backup before head coach Pat Shurmur decided to make the change under center, opting for his shiny new draft pick (sixth overall back in April).
Jones put on a strong performance during the preseason, completing over 85-percent of his passes for 416 yards and two touchdowns.
But now he’s playing first-string defenses within a Giants offense that has struggled mightily over the first two weeks of the season.
While Manning has been on the decline for quite some time, the Giants offense wasn’t necessarily set up for a quarterback to succeed.
Last week saw Manning without No. 1 receiver Sterling Shepard, who was in concussion protocol, while Golden Tate continues to serve a four-game suspension.
It left him with a wide receiving corps of Bennie Fowler, TJ Jones, Cody Latimer, Cody Core, and Russell Shepard.
Shepard is expected to be a go for Week 3 against the Buccaneers, giving Jones a clear-cut No. 1 target alongside tight end Evan Engram.
But will the passing game change that much with Jones under center?
Based off Jones’ intangibles and early numbers, yes.
The 22-year-old is a far more mobile quarterback compared to Manning, possessing the athleticism needed to make plays when rolling out or forced out of the pocket.
Manning’s declining athleticism forced him to get the ball out of his hands quickly and attempt short passes, ensuring the Giants’ aerial attack was one-dimensional and predictable.
Jones has a big arm and as long as he creates enough time, expect more downfield throws.
During the preseason, he averaged 9.4 yards per pass attempt compared to Manning’s 7.6 yards per attempt through Week 2.
It might not seem like a huge difference, but it could play a large factor in the team’s ability to extend its drives. The Giants are 0-for-12 on third downs in which they must gain seven yards or more.
Jones’ first test in the Buccaneers provides a stiff challenge.
They have allowed the third-lowest completion percentage against opposing quarterbacks this season and are one of just six teams in the NFL season that have allowed less than two passing touchdowns.
Can the defense make a stop?
The Giants defense has looked lost over the first two weeks of the season as they were ripped apart by Dak Prescott and Josh Allen.
For an organization that for so long was built on defensive structure, life under Dave Gettleman and Shurmur have continued an unsettling trend of possessing sieve-like units.
The 63 points allowed over two games is tied for second-most in the NFL while 882 total yards given up is fifth-worst.
A shaky secondary — which has been featured by rookie cornerback Deandre Baker’s rough start to life in the NFL — has allowed the third-most passing yards in the league.
It’s unfair to put the entire blame on the secondary, though, seeing as the pass rush has been non-existent for a majority of the first two weeks of the season.
Only eight teams in the NFL have fewer quarterbacks hits (not sacks) than the Giants’ eight. They have just three sacks on the season, tied for sixth-fewest.
The defense has a golden opportunity to get on track — or at least have a rare, nice outing — against a Buccaneers offense that has struggled with Jameis Winston at the helm.
The 25-year-old quarterback’s standing as a starter in the NFL continues to fall under question after the start of his 2019 season.
In two games, he’s completed 59-percent of his passes for 402 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions with a quarterback rating of 69.2.
The Buccaneers’ passing offense ranks 25th in yards, 29th in completions and 25th in touchdowns (two).