EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Daniel Jones entered his first NFL game on Thursday night to a smattering of cheers - a welcomed change from the reception he's gotten since the Giants announced him as the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft.
And after the way he played in his debut, he might not have to worry about being booed anymore.
Jones' NFL debut couldn't have gone much better. He only played one drive - thanks to a 59-minute weather delay that knocked him out of the game - but the drive was picture perfect. He went 5 for 5 for 67 yards and marched the Giants 79 yards down the field for an easy touchdown. He even left with a 7-6 lead in what became a 31-22 win over the Jets.
Jones was playing with the Giants' first-team offense - minus running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram - and against a mix of the Jets' first- and second-team defense. He did get some terrific protection from the offensive line, but he made a few outstanding throws, too.
His best one was probably his last one - a 12-yard pass over two defenders and right into the arms of receiver Bennie Fowler in the corner of the end zone. That made the crowd - which surely included plenty of people who booed his selection on Draft Night - to erupt with cheers.
It was a great sign for the Giants, and more than enough for Jones to at least temporarily silence his doubters. It also might have been just good enough to add fuel to any smoldering quarterback controversy the Giants might have this season.
That, though, is a topic for much later. For now, here are some more takeaways from the Giants and Jets preseason opener:
- Jets QB Sam Darnold was nearly picked off on the second play of the game when he tried to thread a pass to a double-covered WR Quincy Enunwa. The ball went right off the hands of Giants S Jabril Peppers. Maybe that would've rattled a rookie, but Darnold isn't a rookie anymore. After that, he put on a clinic. He avoided the rush on the next play to wait for TE Chris Herndon to come open 32 yards downfield. Then he stepped up in the pocket to hit WR Jamison Crowder on a crossing route, that he took 28 yards. He tore through the Giants' defense for an easy drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Crowder.
- Expect to see a lot of Crowder running that crossing route and trying to turn short passes into big gains. That's a huge part of the Adam Gase offense. He loves to use his slot receivers. It's a huge reason why Crowder decided to sign with the Jets.
- That great opening drive for the Jets? What a horrible opening drive for the Giants defense. They did show a little bit of a pass rush, but not one that could actually get to Darnold. Worse, there were Jets receivers open all over the field. Herndon getting open 32 yards down field is a particular problem for a Giants defense that hasn't been able to cover tight ends in years.
- Giants QB Eli Manning played one series and threw one pass, but that one pass was probably enough to get his critics lathered up. He rolled right and seemed to have TE Rhett Ellison wide open down the field. Instead, he dumped the ball off to TE Scott Simonson for a 3-yard gain. He wasn't pressured at all and had plenty of time. There was no apparent reason not to try for Ellison.
- It was a good night for the Giants' receivers, which they really needed with thumb injury to Sterling Shepard and the looming suspension to Golden Tate. Cody Latimer had two catches for 36 yards. Fowler had 2 for 20, including a touchdown. And Russell Shepard, who could be a good sleeper for the Giants, caught a 51-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter from QB Alex Tanney where he quickly slipped out of the grasp of Jets CB Parry Nickerson.
- Jets K Chandler Catanzaro probably won't be around much longer. He's had a very shaky summer, and he compounded that by missing his first two extra points on Thursday night. It's a pretty safe bet that the Jets will have some kicker tryouts in Florham Park this week.
- Giants rookie CB Corey Ballentine, the fifth-round pick who was shot shortly after he was drafted, got the first shot at kickoff returns. He nearly broke one in the second quarter that went for 40 yards. He also had a couple of nice pass breakups on defense, in a solid debut.
- Solid performances by both teams' veteran backup QBs. Trevor Siemian was 13 of 16 for 77 yards and a touchdown for the Jets, while Tanney went 14 of 19 for 190 yards and a touchdown for the Giants. Tanney could emerge from camp as the Giants' No. 2 quarterback, even if Jones remains their future. Giants coach Pat Shurmur likes him and likes having a veteran backup who can step into the middle of a game if necessary. He might want to keep Jones as the No. 3, and if he decides to go to him at some point he can give him a full week to prepare.
- The Jets announced that G Brian Winters suffered a shoulder injury on the first series, but the extend wasn't immediately known.
- There's always one receiver who seems to come out of nowhere for the Giants each summer. This year it might be T.J. Jones, a former sixth round pick of the Lions. He caught six passes for 72 yards, including a dazzling, falling, turning catch on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Lauletta. There may be one spot up for grabs for a receiver on the roster. His experience and ability could make him a nice fit.
- How to make a 53-man roster: Giants LB Jake Carlock, an undrafted rookie out of LIU, jumped up to bat down a pass by Jets QB Davis Webb at the line of scrimmage, caught it, and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
- Webb, by the way, who was once thought to be Manning's heir apparent with the Giants (at least by Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese) was 2 for 7 for 11 yards and threw two interceptions. Luke Falk, who has been getting some reps ahead of Webb in practice, was 9 of 11 for 69 yards and a touchdown. So Webb's time in New York is hanging by a thread.
The Jets will play their second preseason game next Thursday, as they travel to Atlanta for a matchup with the Falcons. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.