EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Brian Daboll seldom releases injury information the day after a game, preferring to wait until the first practice day for the next opponent to provide an update. On Monday, he made an exception regarding his most important player, quarterback Daniel Jones.
"We got the MRI back; he has a torn ACL," Daboll said.
Then, in an attempt at finding some normalcy, he said, "That's all the injury news that I have so far today."
Another reveal would have been buried, anyway. Daboll confirmed what virtually everyone suspected when Jones' right knee buckled and he walked off the Allegiant Stadium field in Las Vegas; he had suffered an injury that will require a surgical repair and will end his fifth NFL season.
Already reeling from a 30-6 loss to the Raiders, the Giants had to absorb the loss of Jones, a team captain who is admired and respected by all his teammates.
"It's devastating," said left tackle Andrew Thomas, who returned to the field after missing seven games with a hamstring injury. "One of my teammates, one of my good friends, it sucks to hear news like that with injuries like that. Some stuff that you can't control, so just do my best to try to uplift him during the situation, help him out and wish him the best with the recovery."
"It's pretty disappointing," said wide receiver Darius Slayton, a fellow member of the 2019 draft class and a close friend of Jones. "You don't ever want to see any of your teammates go down but for me personally, being here my whole career with DJ and kind of just the natural connection a receiver and quarterback have. Obviously, for me, I think it's a bit personal."
The Giants – who have a 2-7 record, average a league-low 11.2 points a game and Sunday visit Dallas – will likely go with rookie free agent quarterback Tommy DeVito for the foreseeable future.
Veteran Matt Barkley, who joined the practice squad last week and last threw a regular season pass in 2020, is first in line to be the backup. But nothing is certain.
"We have been back for less than 12 hours, so I'll have some meetings today with (general manager) Joe (Schoen) as the day goes on, and we'll see where it goes," Daboll said. "I think Tommy did a good job, but again I'm not going to give you one thing and it's a different thing. I have confidence in Tommy. He's done a good job. But I'll sit down and talk with Joe and figure out what's next."
Tyrod Taylor, who started the three games prior to yesterday's, suffered a rib cage injury last week vs. the Jets and is on injured reserve. Daboll does not know if Taylor will return this season.
"I can't give you that answer," Daboll said. "I can't tell you how he's going to heal or things like that. So, we'll see."
Jones will not recall the 2023 season fondly. One year after leading the Giants to their first postseason berth in six years and earning a new contract, Jones threw just two touchdown passes – both at Arizona on Sept. 17 – and six interceptions. He injured his neck in Miami on Oct. 8 and missed the next three games. Jones returned to the field yesterday but played just 21 snaps. The final two will have significant short and long-term repercussions.
On the last play of the first quarter, a first down from the Raiders' 47-yard line, Jones moved to his right to evade pursuing defensive end Maxx Crosby. Jones abruptly stopped, planted his right foot into the grass and went down as his knee bent unnaturally. Crosby then fell on him for a 7-yard sack. Jones got up slowly and appeared to be in discomfort as the quarter ended.
Between quarters, Jones jogged back and forth, talked to coaches and medical personnel on the sideline and said he was good to continue. But on the first play of the second quarter, he took a shotgun snap, dropped back three steps and fell with no one near him. As Malcolm Koonce did a fly-by touch for a 10-yard sack, Jones grabbed his right knee. He raised himself up, walked to the sideline without assistance and disappeared first into the sideline medical tent and then into the stadium tunnel.
"He came over, started running back and forth, loosening it up, told our guys he was good, and then went back out there," Daboll said. "And obviously on that drop, went down again. That's what it was."
Daboll and the players who spoke publicly today were asked about Jones' state of mind.
"I talked to him obviously on the plane before he got the MRI, and then really, I just saw him for 30 seconds here before I came into this press conference," Daboll said. "He was having a meeting with the doctors, just interrupted and told me what it was. I gave him a hug, and that's my extent of it right now."
"He's a competitor," Slayton said. "Even though we didn't know until this morning that he officially tore his ACL but those moments as a player, obviously, the thought goes through your head and the first emotion is devastation. We all work extremely hard to make the best out of the 17 opportunities we get every year to play the game we love and having that slip away is not easy for any of us to deal with. He's a very resilient person, a very strong individual – but he's also not alone in this. We'll have his back, we'll support him and be with him through this process."
Since Jones became the starting quarterback in the third game of his 2019 rookie season, the Giants are 3-10 in games he's missed, including 1-2 this year. The season most comparable to their current situation is 2021, when Jones missed the final six games with a neck injury. The Giants scored just 56 points while losing all six games with a Mike Glennon/Jake Fromm combo at quarterback.
"It was a bit of a different predicament then because there was a lot of other things outside of that," Slayton said. "Our staff was at risk that season, obviously, both our – DJ and then Mike Glennon was our backup ended up going down. Then, we brought in Jake Fromm, from wherever we brought him at the time, basically off the couch. We were in a bit of a different predicament then, in a different space then than we (are) now as a team.
"I think DeVito played pretty well yesterday with the time he had and will continue to build and get better. And Matt Barkley has been in the system for a long time so he's in a bit different predicament than even the quarterbacks we had back then where we're trying to learn something, whereas he already knows. I think the guys that we have will be able to do a good job for us going forward."
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