TAMPA — Giants coach Pat Shurmur said Wednesday that the team’s decision to pass the reins of the Giants offense to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has more to do with the Giants’ standing than the Bucs.
Maybe it’s that Shurmur knows how teams that lose their first three games fare. Since 1990, only 2.9 percent make the playoffs. Last year’s Houston Texans are the only 0-3 team to make the postseason since 1998.
It’s possible that seeing the Giants convert just 5 of 23 third-down opportunities and average just 15.5 points under Eli Manning that prompted the decision. Then there’s the fact that Manning is 8-23 in games he’s started since the beginning of 2017.
The Bucs have lost six of their last seven meetings against the Giants, most recently a turnover-riddled 38-35 loss in 2018. They won a hard-fought game last Thursday in Carolina, but have lost nine of 12 dating to Week 7 last season.
Tampa Bay is also 3-12 against rookie quarterbacks dating back to 2011.
The perfect matchup, right coach?
“Not at all,” Shurmur said Wednesday.
Shurmur said starting the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft on the road against a Tampa Bay defense that’s much improved is just the challenge he wants for Jones.
"I think this is more about us moving forward as a football team," Shurmur said. "I feel like we're playing an outstanding team on the road. So there's no tougher test than that for a young player, but we feel like he's up for it."
The Bucs allowed 29 points a game last season, but just one touchdown through two games.
“I think (new defensive coordinator) Todd Bowles and his staff do an outstanding job of coaching them and it appears to me by how fast they’re playing that they understand their scheme here early in the year and they believe in what Todd’s teaching them,” Shurmur said. “I think they’re doing a good job of challenging in the back end. They’ve been disruptive up front and they’ve got an outstanding pass rusher that’s made an impact. I think they’ve done a good job of covering. Their linebackers are active and when you add a force inside like (Ndamukong) Suh, not to mention the other players, and you having the makings of a really good defense.”
Since the Giants drafted Jones the biggest mystery was when he’d take over. The team committed to paying Manning $17 million a month before selecting Jones, and they are taking a $23.2 million cap hit for Manning. During the preseason, all signs pointed to another year of Eli. There was no training camp competition between the quarterbacks, though Jones played well in the preseason, posting an 83.5 completion percentage and 137.3 quarterback rating.
But why the Bucs, coach?
"We just feel like it's time," Shurmur said.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.