The Giants could be down to a third-string quarterback taking instructions from a second-string coordinator and a second-string position coach.
That’s the reality of a messy multilayered situation headlined by the structural damage to Daniel Jones’ neck that makes him unlikely to play for the second straight game Sunday against the Chargers, according to sources. Jones saw doctors Monday and will not be cleared for contact until the healing process is complete, which thrusts Jake Fromm into the spotlight.
The new complicating factors are backup Mike Glennon’s entrance into the NFL concussion protocol and quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski’s positive COVID-19 test result. That means Fromm — who was on the Bills practice squad until Nov. 30 — is likely to lead the Giants starting offense in Wednesday’s practice and will keep the job through game day if Glennon doesn’t clear the mandated five steps.
Schuplinski’s COVID-19 case is a huge variable, however, because now all of the Giants quarterbacks — including Brian Lewerke on the practice squad — likely will be considered vaccinated close contacts who must test more frequently. Fromm spent 10 days on the COVID-19 list with the Bills last month after he had an asymptomatic case.
“The plan right now is for Jake to continue in his role,” head coach Joe Judge said. “We have a lot of contingencies, whether it’s the COVID contingency or the uncertainty in terms of the other quarterbacks. We’re talking internally about a lot of options right now personnel-wise, scheme-it-up, to see what we can do to address it and make sure we’re building in depth for a multitude of reasons.”
Oh, and all this change comes against the backdrop of unexpected offensive regression with Freddie Kitchens calling plays. There are more bells and whistles but scoring actually has decreased from 18.9 points per game under fired coordinator Jason Garrett to 11 under Kitchens. The Giants have not topped 264 yards of offense — a number that on average would rank second-to-last in the league — in any of their last four games.
All concussion recovery timelines are different. Jones, for instance, was cleared only five days after entering the protocol and did not miss a start. Glennon took every snap in the loss to the Dolphins.
“At some point after the game, they came to me and just let me know they were looking at him,” Judge said, “so during the game there was nothing I was informed of.”
Fromm isn’t an unknown. The 2020 fifth-round draft pick of the Bills was a three-year starter who led Georgia into the 2018 College Football Playoff national championship game and held off Jacob Eason (Colts backup) and Justin Fields (Bears rookie starter and first-round pick) in quarterback competitions before they both transferred to other schools. But Sunday marked his first NFL regular-season game in uniform.
“He’s drinking through a fire hose right now,” Schuplinski said last week of Fromm’s learning curve.
Schuplinski and offensive quality control coach Nick Williams spent extra on-field time last week with Fromm. That responsibility will fall to Williams and Kitchens this week with Schuplinski limited to virtual participation in meetings.
“When you go from Daniel to Mike, you want to push and stay as close to the offense as you possibly can, and you expect them to go out there and execute the game plan,” Judge said. “For a guy who’s only been here in your system for a couple days, you’ve got to select more of a menu of what he can operate in and that’s not always limiting based on his ability, it’s just based on being new in a scheme.”
The bottom line is the player on the active roster with the most career pass attempts is receiver Kadarius Toney (three) — and even he might not play after missing the last two games with injuries to his quad and oblique. Punter Riley Dixon has the best career passer rating (77.1). The Broncos had to play receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback for one game last season after a COVID-19 outbreak around unmasked teammates.