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GREG JOHNSON: Tyrod Taylor making case to get closer look as Giants’ quarterback

EAST RUTHERFORD — Tyrod Taylor could have packed his bags and retired from the NFL at any point over the last few years since regularly starting games for the Bills in 2017, yet his patience and professionalism as a backup is now paying dividends for the Giants.

Head coach Brian Daboll scoffed at the idea of a quarterback controversy after Taylor’s first start at quarterback last Sunday in Buffalo, but let’s be honest: That had more to do with Daniel Jones’ paychecks than either quarterback’s sheer playing ability.

Because it was plainly obvious this Sunday after Taylor again provided a spark to the Giants’ offense in the 14-7 win against the Commanders at MetLife Stadium that the 13th-year veteran is simply a better signal-caller for this team right now.

“Tyrod had a good game,” Daboll said. “Played well, took care of the ball, made good decisions, threw the ball where it was supposed to be thrown.”

Taylor has been diligently working behind the scenes for a year and a half now as the Giants’ backup. He’ll likely remain in that role once Jones returns from his neck injury, in large part because the Giants fully guaranteed $82 million to Jones on a new four-year contract this spring.

“That’s up to Coach,” Taylor said. “Obviously if DJ is healthy, he’s a captain of our team, a leader on the offense. And I’m here to support any way that I can.”

Even with the Giants still down three offensive line starters and taking on a stout Washington front four, Taylor was excellent in the pocket while completing 18-of-29 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns as well as rushing eight times for 25 yards. And most importantly: no turnovers again.

Just how notable is that? In 47 starts since the 2020 season, Jones has thrown for more than 200 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions only one time — this past January in the playoffs. He’s never done so in a regular season game aside from his 2019 rookie campaign, and Taylor has already accomplished that in only two starts. In addition, Taylor’s 116.9 passer rating Sunday was better than all but two of Jones’ starts since 2020.

“It’s just week in and week out, whether it’s preparing mentally or physically for the opportunity that presents itself, just taking advantage of it,” Taylor said. “I’ve played a number of years. I’ve seen a lot football, I’ve played a lot of football. Just going out there and trusting the guys. Not playing scared, being free, playing free, and having fun. I enjoy playing, I enjoy competing.”

Jones defenders will say Taylor had running back Saquon Barkley for the last two games, while Jones did not in losses to the Niners, Seahawks and Dolphins. They’ll claim that the offensive line is performing better for Taylor did it did for Jones. But those are only half-truths.

The bottom line is Taylor just looks more comfortable making plays behind this line than Jones has this season, and as a result, this is a more explosive Giants offense.

Just observe the way Taylor was able to zip passes on target and in stride for Wan’Dale Robinson and Darius Slayton to get yards after the catch on the Giants’ first touchdown drive early in the second quarter, which ended an offensive touchdown drought of 220 minutes dating back to Week 3 in San Francisco.

Or watch the way Taylor was able to escape the pass rush and find Barkley along the sideline for a seven-yard gain on third-and-5, and then lead Jalin Hyatt down the sideline with a beautifully thrown 42-yard pass.

That fourth-quarter drive ended at the 10-yard line because of a Barkley fumble. Otherwise, Taylor was well on his way to driving this team to a game-sealing touchdown before the Giants’ defense had to come up with one final defensive stand in the final minute.

“He’s a vet, he’s one of the leaders on this team,” Hyatt said. “We have full confidence in both DJ and Tyrod. He played a great game.”

Barkley did score from 32 yards out on a short pass in the second quarter, but he provided only a modest rushing output with 77 yards on 21 carries. So it’s not like Taylor was working with a dominant running game, and Barkley’s impact has always been overstated. Jones had Barkley in Week 1 against Dallas and scored no points, and the duo is 14-22-1 in games played together since 2019.

You could argue that rolling with the 26-year-old Jones over the 34-year-old Taylor has more long-term upside to this team, but right now, Taylor has earned a closer look to see where he can take this offense. The Giants are now 2-5 and play only one team with a winning record in their next seven games, so why not see if Taylor can help salvage the season?

The former sixth-round pick from Virginia Tech says he’s a big believer is simply staying in the present moment, handling what’s in front of him, and the rest will take care of itself.

At least for now, that mindset is helping the Giants keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

“Since I got drafted in 2011, I’ve always prepared week in and week out as if I was the starter,” Taylor said. “Whether that was the case or not, my attitude has never changed. It’s motivated me along the way, whether I was number two or number one. But I’m just thankful for the opportunity. More importantly I’m thankful for the guys competing and playing the way that they did today and last week as well, too. Overall it was just fun to be out there competing.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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