Daniel Jones of the Giants reacts after falling down in the...

Daniel Jones of the Giants reacts after falling down in the first quarter of a game against the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday in Las Vegas. Credit: Getty Images/Ian Maule


If there was a smidgen of ego or hubris or hesitancy in the uppermost levels of Giants management about the complete and total overhaul of this team that needs to take place in the coming months, it likely limped off the field with Daniel Jones on Sunday evening.

That was when it should have become clear to everyone, even the holdouts and most loyal defenders of the status quo, that everything is about to change. That everything must change.

Jones, the quarterback around whom this regime decided it would try to build its future, had just returned from a three-week sideline stint with a neck injury and barely made it through the first quarter of this game against the Raiders before suffering what appeared to be a very serious knee injury.

On the final snap of that first quarter, when he stepped forward trying to elude Maxx Crosby’s pass rush, his right knee buckled when he planted it in the sod. He tried to run and keep it loose on the sideline during the changeover between periods, but on the first snap of the second quarter, he dropped back to pass and just . . . dropped.

No contact. No pressure. Down he went.

He’ll likely have MRIs on Monday to confirm what just about anyone who has ever watched a snippet of football knows almost certainly will be a season-ending ACL injury.

Just like that, the Giants found themselves in the market for a quarterback this coming offseason.

There was plenty of speculation that they already might have been, of course. Jones hadn’t lived up to the $160 million contract the Giants gave him in March. The neck injury aside, he was scuffling to make plays, and even in the early stages on Sunday when he had most of his primary blockers and passing targets on the field with him, he looked off.

He missed two deep passes to Jalin Hyatt that might have changed at least the early flavor of the game. He was unable to find Saquon Barkley on some open checkdowns that should have been easy tosses. And on an early fourth-and-1 — explain to me again why the Giants were running a sneak with a quarterback just back from a neck injury? — he was unable to push forward for a first down.

The knee injury? It just cemented the idea for everyone involved that this franchise’s main task from now through the rest of this season, through free agency, through the draft, is to find itself a new starting quarterback for 2024 and most likely beyond.

Counting on Jones to be that guy is foolish. First of all, he might not be cleared to play until late August or September. And secondly — and perhaps most importantly — he hasn’t shown he’s up to the task even when he isn’t missing games because of his various serious injuries.

Joe Schoen already might have been leaning that way early last week when he traded Leonard Williams to Seattle for a second-round pick. Sunday’s results — the game and the injury — should have completed the thought exercise.

The plan should be very clear now. Get coach Brian Daboll a quarterback he can mold, develop and build into a winner the way he did with Josh Allen. Use what almost assuredly will be a top-five pick or higher in April to select Caleb Williams or Michael Penix — the two college quarterbacks who faced off for USC and Washington in Los Angeles on Saturday night with Schoen and several other scouts and execs in the building  — or any other stud quarterback with whom they think they can win.

Your next question is an obvious and valid one: Why should Schoen and Daboll be allowed to engineer this when they are as much part of the current disgrace as anyone?

Because they deserve the time and resources to see what they can do if and when they are allowed to bring in their own parts without having to refurbish the mistakes of previous managements after being bullied and coerced by fan sentiment (and perhaps a dash of ownership “suggesting”) after an unlikely playoff run that clearly was an optical illusion. They were brought in to change a stale franchise. Let them finally try to do it.

“It’s horrible. Especially how well we were doing the previous year and where we are now, it’s definitely not ideal,” second-year tackle Evan Neal said. “But sometimes it’s like that. All we can do is move forward. Move on to the next week.”

Or the next season.

In some ways, the timing of this couldn’t be better. The Giants’ bad luck usually has them in this market when there aren’t many (or any) clear-cut NFL prospects around to pick, the way things worked out in 2019 when they traded up to take Jones. This year’s class seems to be brimming with talent.

And because of Jones’ knee and the rib injury that already had put Tyrod Taylor on injured reserve, they don’t even have to try to tank to get there. It’ll happen naturally. It’ll make for a long, sad next eight games with Tommy DeVito and Matt Barkley on the field, but at least their organizational consciences will be clear.

The rest of the roster is on borrowed time now. Saquon Barkley may well get his wish and reach free agency in March. Xavier McKinney might as well start lining up visits with other teams. The number of players who definitely are part of any long-term plans has dwindled to Andrew Thomas, Dexter Lawrence and maybe Kayvon Thibodeaux.

They’ll also have two months to measure everyone else.

“I go back to my rookie year when we started out 0-6,” Justin Pugh said of his first stint with the Giants. “You find out what you are made of in these scenarios and the guys you want to be in the fight with . . . Every guy in there too has to realize you are fighting for a job. A lot of times that’s what happens when you get into these scenarios. You are fighting to keep your job and your livelihood.”

On Sunday, the Giants got a glimpse of what opening the windows to let some fresh air into the place can do for an organization. With their interim head coach, interim offensive coordinator and rookie quarterback, the Raiders overwhelmed them on a short (they’d played on Monday) and tumultuous week.

Sometimes tumult can be good if it clears out the parts that aren’t working.

Maybe both teams will look back on this week and this game in Vegas one day and recognize it as when their collective luck turned for the better.


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