Daniel Jones is 8-19 as a starting quarterback in the NFL, but he is a perfect 4-0 against Washington. Since entering the league in 2019, Jones has been inconsistent because of his inability to hold on to the football. The third-year starter has turned the ball over 40 times in his career, making him the second-fastest player to reach that mark in NFL history behind Marc Bulger.
But Jones seems to have Washington’s number through four matchups. He has a higher quarterback rating vs. Washington than any team that he has faced more than once. He also has passed for more yards (901) against Washington than against any other opponent and has thrown for eight touchdowns; he hasn’t thrown for more than four against any other team.
Quarterbacks with perfect records vs. Washington (min. 4 starts)
Washington Coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that Jones’s success against Washington is a result of his ability to be a threat with his legs. Perhaps Jones’s most memorable play against Washington in 2020 was when he gashed the Washington defense for a 49-yard run on a read-option play in Week 6. Linebacker Jon Bostic said Jones is a lot faster than people think.
“He's dynamic,” Rivera said. “And again, a guy that can throw on the run is also a guy you got to be concerned with. We know based on some things we saw from last year, keeping them inside the pocket is important.”
His four career starts against Washington haven’t been flawless; the third-year quarterback from Duke has thrown three interceptions and fumbled three times, but all of the fumbles were recovered by the Giants. Washington has a minus-6 turnover differential in games that Jones has started against it.
Jones’s 2021 season didn’t get off to a great start Sunday against the Denver Broncos. He completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 267 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another score. But a fumble in the third quarter with his team driving while trailing by 10 led to a Broncos field goal to increase the deficit.
Washington had five sacks and two forced fumbles in the second matchup between the teams last season in Week 9 but failed to recover either. The team is hoping to recover a few Thursday.
“Yeah, we’ve been talking about that for the past few days,” defensive end Chase Young said. “Obviously, he struggled holding the ball in the past, and that’s a big emphasis. Going in on Thursday, that’s definitely something that’s on our radar.”
The offensive line is looking to improve upon — and move past — last week’s performance. Charles Leno Jr. said he felt terrible about his poor technique on the play that allowed Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu to get a clean shot on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, which knocked Fitzpatrick out of the game and resulted in the veteran QB going on injured reserve. But after the hit, the left tackle said, his mind-set was to move past the play and focus on stacking better plays on top of each other.
That’s also his mentality ahead of Thursday’s game — to fix his technique and use the short week to forget last week’s performance. He gave the same advice for rookie right tackle Sam Cosmi, who had a tough first matchup against Joey Bosa. Rivera believes Cosmi played well in his first NFL game but noted that the second-round pick from Texas didn’t always trust his technique and reverted to some bad habits from college as a result of being anxious.
New starting quarterback Taylor Heinicke wants to get the ball to Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas, but he also wants to spread the wealth. On Sunday, both pass-catchers thrived with Heinicke in the game. Thomas caught two passes from him in a two-minute drill that led to a field goal to end the first half and added a touchdown in the second half. McLaurin led the team in catches with four after having none in the first half and sparked the drive that led to Thomas’s score.
Heinicke wants to continue to get them the ball, he said this week, but he also wants to make the most of his chemistry with other receivers.
Third-round pick Dyami Brown was on the field for 93 percent of the team’s plays Sunday and had four targets but only one catch to show for it. Heinicke showed during last season’s playoff loss to Tampa Bay that he had faith in Cam Sims; Sims led the team in targets (13), catches (seven) and yards (107) in that game, but he was only on the field for two offensive plays against the Chargers. Adam Humphries, signed this offseason, was targeted by Heinicke twice Sunday.
“I’ve gotten a good amount of reps with all of them,” Heinicke said. “I feel like I have good chemistry with all of them, so we’ll go out on Thursday and hopefully we can put it together.”
Heinicke also will benefit from playing alongside running back Antonio Gibson, who was listed as a full participant in practice Tuesday and Wednesday and is set to play Thursday after being estimated as a limited participant on the team’s Monday practice report with a shoulder injury.
Scott Allen contributed to this report.