By Michael Stewart/@golferbad

Introduction:  It’s official!

The Daniel Jones era has begun and there’s no turning back. The decision to replace Eli Manning for rookie Daniel Jones wasn’t a shocker as we all knew it was inevitable. Perhaps the timing was the head-scratcher with only two games played.

Regardless; Jones will be facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa Bay and despite the teams struggles thus far, have an outside chance of coming out with a win. However; In order for that to happen, the Giants will need to do these 5 things:

  • Defense needs to step up: The Giants 0-2 start was not Manning’s fault; it was the defense. Surrendering 31.5 points per game and a whopping 441 yards per game; with 321 yards through the air. Only the Miami Dolphins have done worse. This needs to change and fast as the Bucs have struggled offensively with only 292 total yards per game (ranked 26th). Quarterback Jameis Winston has not been lighting it up thus far and even struggled in their only win against the Panthers last week. Giants defense needs to play well in all facets; stopping the run, minimizing big plays and more importantly applying pressure on Winston. If not, it could be a long game.
  • Offensive balance attack: The Giants were averaging 420 yards per game, but that was with Eli Manning and there’s no telling if the insertion of Daniel Jones will be an improvement or not; least not immediately. The Giants offense really needs to come with a balance attack to keep the Bucs off guard and not to key so much on Saquon Barkley who is having another Pro Bowl year thus far (227 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns). I expect the Giants to rely heavily on Barkley on the ground and through the air, so look for more touches in this game for Barkley.
  • Create Turnovers: This category has been one of the Giants down falls thus far this season with a turnover ratio of -4 compared to the Bucs ratio of -1. The Giants need to create their own breaks and the best to do that is to create turnovers.  The Buccaneers strength is their defense; which is currently ranked 8th overall. So you can expect them to go after Jones and attempt to confuse him into forcing passes and creating turnovers.
  • Time of Possession: Bucs have had possession over their opponents for a little over 3 more minutes (31.54 to 28.05); whereas the Giants have had the ball for nearly five minutes less than their opponent (27.32 to 32.28). This could be a lot to ask a young quarterback to do in his first NFL start, but if the Giants want to win their first game of the year, then they need to keep their defense off the field as much as possible; because it is their weakest link.
  • Red Zone Efficiency: The Giants (at least on paper) have a tremendous advantage in this department over the Bucs with a 60% ratio as opposed to 33.33% for the Bucs. The only problem for the Giants is that they haven’t been in the red zone enough to manufacture enough points in the first two games and this was with Manning. Can the Giants get into the red zone more frequently against the Bucs? More importantly; can they continue at their current 60% ratio or better with Daniel Jones at quarterback.

Final Thoughts:  The Giants have won two of the last three meetings between these two teams, but you can throw that stat out the window as that was with Eli Manning at quarterback. This is Daniel Jones team now and he’ll have 14 games to convince the Giants that they didn’t make a mistake on draft day with his selection with the 6th overall pick. This should be the last season for the Giants in the rebuild phase as this team will have more downs than ups with Jones learning under center.

That learning curve starts in Tampa Bay and I project Jones will put on a good show and give the Giants Management and more importantly the fans something to build on for the future. If the Giants can come close to achieving the top 5 things they to do against the Bucs; they do have an outside chance to walk away with a win.

The benching of Eli Manning and the insertion of rookie Daniel Jones should be a wake call for this Giants team; especially the defense. I expect them to respond well and put forth the effort and overall team performance to give them there first win of the season and more importantly; Daniel Jones first win as an NFL quarterback.

Final Score: Giants-20/Buccaneers-17