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John Mara wonders why Jerrel Jernigan didn’t play sooner

Jerrel Jernigan AP

In Sunday’s season finale against Washington, Giants wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan provided much of the excitement, scoring the game’s only touchdowns in a 20-6 New York victory.

For the third-year pro from Troy, it was a continuation of a strong finish to his season. The 24-year-old Jernigan, who saw an increase in playing time when Victor Cruz exited the lineup with a knee injury, hauled in 12 passes for 170 yards and a pair of scores in the final two games.

Jernigan’s strong finish to 2013 left Giants president/CEO John Mara wondering why the former third-round pick’s emergence took so long.

“I’m not sure why it took us three years to find out Jerrel Jernigan could play,” Mara said Monday, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “Sometimes you have to put younger players in the game and give them a chance. It would have been nice for him to get in a little bit earlier. That’s not my decision.”

In retrospect, giving Jernigan a longer look earlier in the season wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Overall, he caught 29-of-44 passes thrown his way (65.9 percent). Moreover, he made some big catches in his short time in the lineup, and quarterback Eli Manning was willing to look to him in key spots.

The question now is whether there are any organizational lessons to be taken and applied from this case. The Giants’ offense struggled all season, with the passing game an especially big problem, and someone who might have been able to help them didn’t get his shot until the 2013 campaign was almost over. It’s only logical to ask why Jernigan — who clearly was ready for his opportunity – wasn’t on the field sooner.

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20 Responses to “John Mara wonders why Jerrel Jernigan didn’t play sooner”
  1. duncanthecat says: Dec 30, 2013 4:08 PM

    I think a more appropriate question is, “How can we figure out a way to play the Redskins four times every season?”

  2. arwiv says: Dec 30, 2013 4:08 PM

    Yeah, john….that probably makes a few million of us wondering the same thing.

  3. twilson962 says: Dec 30, 2013 4:09 PM

    Well, playing against a terrible Skins D that already checked out for the season doesn’t hurt.

  4. thestrategyexpert says: Dec 30, 2013 4:10 PM

    Just walk over the office that has “GM” printed on the door and ask that guy, he should have an answer for you. No reason for there to be a mystery, it’s YOUR team. Go get your answers if you have questions!

  5. rectumdamnnearkilledem says: Dec 30, 2013 4:10 PM

    That’s not the only question I would have about the Giants season. When Eli is setting records for turnovers and your defense is playing terrible (although the offense put them in some tough spots and they seemed to always be on the field) and you start the season 0-6 or something, there should be a lot of questions being asked. As far as I can see, next year will be more of the same.

  6. blakeden says: Dec 30, 2013 4:12 PM

    He didn’t play sooner because your coaching staff was saving him for the off season…

  7. kd75 says: Dec 30, 2013 4:21 PM

    I have watched every Giants game since 1984, preseason included. I never got the sense that Jernigan was a baller like he was yesterday. He’s looked like a completely different player these last three games.

    When I saw Victor Cruz in that Preseason game vs the Jets, I knew he was going to be a star. Jernigan just never had any breakout performances like yesterday before. He’s had opportunities in the past.

    His history has been running wrong routes and dropping balls thrown his way.

    If he finally put it all together, great he’s a keeper.

  8. jbl429 says: Dec 30, 2013 4:22 PM

    twilson962 says:
    Dec 30, 2013 4:09 PM
    Well, playing against a terrible Skins D that already checked out for the season doesn’t hurt.

    —–

    He also had 7 catches for 67 yards against Seattle.

  9. raynman49 says: Dec 30, 2013 4:23 PM

    Who is the head coach? Duh!

  10. afterthesecrowdedstreets says: Dec 30, 2013 4:23 PM

    Perhaps Jernigan has the uncanny ability to snag wildly errant throws out of the air, because God knows that’s what Eli does best.

  11. kev86 says: Dec 30, 2013 4:25 PM

    Mara is the best.

  12. med515 says: Dec 30, 2013 4:33 PM

    Great quote. Mara seemed as disgusted with Gilbride as all of us. Let’s hope there’s a new OC next season. Eli Manning deserves to be rid of this guy.

  13. crito22 says: Dec 30, 2013 4:40 PM

    Maybe he could ask Reese and Coughlin and he’ll wonder no more. Here are a few reasons why it’s taken so long:
    Hakeem Nicks
    Victor Cruz
    Rueben Randle
    Mario Manningham
    Ramses Barden
    Domenik Hixon

    Hard to see the field while buried on the depth chart. He should definitely be the return man if Wilson can’t play.

  14. jpherling says: Dec 30, 2013 4:55 PM

    He didn’t play sooner because he hadn’t played well in his previous opportunities. Reese or Coughlin could have told Mara that before Sunday.

  15. Go-Hawks! says: Dec 30, 2013 4:58 PM

    jbl429 says:
    Dec 30, 2013 4:22 PM
    twilson962 says:
    Dec 30, 2013 4:09 PM
    Well, playing against a terrible Skins D that already checked out for the season doesn’t hurt.

    —–

    He also had 7 catches for 67 yards against Seattle.

    —–

    No touchdowns against Seattle though. But Jernigan did play well in that game.

  16. nonetruerthanblue says: Dec 30, 2013 5:12 PM

    It’s simple…Gilbride is an inept moron who can’t properly evaluate players. He plays the same bad players over and over without looking to new potential.

  17. ttommytom says: Dec 30, 2013 5:35 PM

    He finally figured it out as his back was against the wall. Pretty simple, actually…

  18. nard100 says: Dec 30, 2013 5:47 PM

    People need to just stop with this nonsense about Jernigan. He DID get chances this year and blew every last one of them. It’s nice he decided to show up in the last game. This guy has:

    1) Dropped passes
    2) Fumbled KR and PR’s
    3) Couldn’t execute a basic screen

    I hope he can keep it up, but I really don’t want to hear that he was always awesome and nobody would give him a chance, because it just aint true.

  19. vicvinegar00 says: Dec 30, 2013 7:38 PM

    Well he wasn’t going to start in front of Cruz or Nicks. Randle has shown promise. Should they have just run 4 WR sets all season?

    On the bright side, he’ll fit in nicely next season when the Giants aren’t paying Hakeem Nicks anymore.

  20. justintuckrule says: Dec 31, 2013 10:10 AM

    It’s called proper coaching and seasoning. The kid was lost his first two years. You are seeing the fruits of patience.

    Mara-just sign the checks. When kids get thrown to the wolves too early you end up with fumblers crying on the sidelines with their confidence shaken. That’s why you haven’t seen jj in 3 years

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