It is not time for Daniel Jones to start. It is not time for the Giants to surrender the season and begin looking towards the future. It is not time to finally and officially declare Eli Manning "done."
But a few more performances by the Giants like the one in Dallas on Sunday, and the start of the Daniel Jones Era might be pretty close.
That really has nothing to do with Manning, the Giants' 38-year-old currently starting quarterback. As easy a target as he may be, he wasn't the reason the Giants were blown out, 35-17, in Dallas on Opening Day. But in the end -- his end -- there seems to be an increasing possibility that his own play won't matter.
Because there will simply be no reason to play him anymore, no matter how he's playing, if the Giants really are as terrible as they seemed.
And they really were terrible on Sunday, particularly on defense, which found a way to slither under a bar that had already been set remarkably low. Manning was far from stellar on Sunday, but he did throw for 306 yards and the Giants had 470 yards of offense. Unfortunately, their defense gave up 494 yards and allowed the Cowboys to score five touchdowns on their six drives in the first three quarters of the game.
Add in some questionable offensive play calling and receivers unable to get open and … well, it was a mess. And if it continues to be a mess, there simply wouldn't be a point to playing Manning anymore -- and the Giants know it. Their plan, as SNY has reported over and over, is to keep playing Manning as long as he's healthy and they believe they have a realistic shot at the playoffs. But what that means isn't clear. For example, does anyone think they have a realistic chance at the playoffs now?
Maybe it means that he'll hold his job as long as they're mathematically in the race, though that certainly can be deceiving. Maybe all they'll need is a good stumble out of the gate in the first month to realize that what they're playing for is really next year.
Whatever. The more games like the one they play on Sunday, the closer they'll come to accepting that reality. And as soon as they do, as soon as they understand that their best shot at their next playoff berth will come in 2020, this entire season will become about getting Jones ready to play.
No, they're not ready to throw in that towel at 0-1. Far from it. It's going to take a lot more than that.
But the Giants looked a lot more awful than expected on Sunday. Manning could throw for 450 yards and have a perfect quarterback rating, and if the Giants' defense keeps blowing games and everything else starts imploding, they will be out of this race before it begins. And then there'll be no point in letting Manning have a farewell tour while his successor, the Giants' future, is languishing on the bench.
Of course, head coach Pat Shurmur wasn't willing to get into that conversation on Sunday after the game. He called Jones' brief debut on the final series of the game "an obvious situation in my mind to put him in the game."
"And that's it," he added. "I'm not going to play your hypothetical game."
Fair enough, because Shurmur and the Giants aren't there yet. They're not anywhere near being ready to wave the white flag on the 2019 season. But a few more games like the opener where they look unprepared, outmanned, and just plain awful, and they'll have to get that white flag ready.
Once their playoff dreams are realistically dead, no matter what the math says, they'll have no choice but to turn towards the future. If the Giants continue to be as awful as they looked in Dallas, they'll have to start getting Jones ready for 2020 no matter how Manning is playing in 2019.