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The manhunt for the 18th head coach of the New York Football Giants is on.

At this crossroads in Giants history, it is critical for new GM Dave Gettleman to Gett this one right.

The perfect candidate: a leader, a disciplinarian, a man of intelligence and vision, a communicator, a quarterback whisperer if possible.

There is, alas, no perfect candidate.

But then Bill Belichick wasn’t the perfect candidate before and after Cleveland either.

The one who checks the most boxes. But who? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And in this case, the beholder, who retained Ron Rivera in Carolina, will be hiring a head coach for the first time.

The Giants cannot afford to make a projection. Ben McAdoo turned out to be a projection. It isn’t enough to be considered an offensive guru.

The Giants need a leader of men who can command the room and respect more than anything.

But who?

The sexiest name is Josh McDaniels … offensive whiz … Bill Belichick-trained … respected by Tom Brady … previous head-coaching experience … something to prove.

Something to prove because he was an absolute disaster in too many ways to count nine years ago, when the Broncos hired him — a videotaping scandal that cost him $50,000 and a measure of integrity, personnel errors, lacking in bedside manner and interpersonal relationships, paranoid and 17 losses in his last 22 games.

He was only 33 at the time of his hiring.

He will turn 42 in April.
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The Giants have requested interviews with McDaniels, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz also believed to be a candidate.

“I just think it’s important to watch and listen to other people to gather the information that you can and try to make the best decisions that you can make if you’re in a position of leadership,” McDaniels said Monday. “Hopefully, I’ve grown in that area and many others. I always try to do my best in my role, and certainly I haven’t reached my full potential in that conversation.”

The Giants’ offense is broken, and few doubt McDaniels could fix it and help Eli Manning rebound and develop a Sam Darnold or a Josh Rosen or a Davis Webb at the same time.

But could he fix a broken team?

And does he have the right temperament for New York?

Could he convince Odell Beckham Jr. that he could help him become legendary?

Could he convince Odell Beckham Jr. he could help him become legendary?

Patricia, Belichick’s trusted defensive coordinator, has never been a head coach. But he is organized, respected and off-the-charts intelligent — a veritable rocket scientist who studied aeronautical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“I’ve been very, very lucky to be at such a great place for a long time and work for Coach Belichick, a great coach to follow and try to learn from and try to expand my knowledge,” Patricia said Monday. “So we’re constantly trying to compete whether it’s just internally as a coach to be better, whether it’s out there on the field with an opponent. I think that’s kind of the drive that you have every day as a coach to try to make yourself better, to try to help your players be in a great position to perform on Sunday.”

Gettleman’s instincts for evaluating people and coaches better be as good as they are evaluating players.

Belichick was 37-45 with the Browns and then 5-11 in his first season with the Patriots. Now he and Brady eye their sixth ring together.

Who knew?

No one knew.

Andy Reid didn’t have any head-coaching experience before the Eagles hired him. Neither did Mike Tomlin before the Steelers hired him. Neither did Sean Payton before the Saints hired him. Neither did John Harbaugh when the Ravens hired him. Neither did Rivera when the Panthers hired him. Wilks was a head coach at Savannah State in 1999.

So you can get lucky.

You can also think you got lucky one year, and wind up feeling McAduped even before Black Monday.

“You just gotta mean what you say and say what you mean, and hold everybody accountable,” Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “At first sight, guy sees something wrong, you correct it then, you don’t wait till you start losing or things of that nature.”

Sometimes, it is as simple as right time, right place, right quarterback.

There are no sure things. There are no no-brainers in this field. McDaniels was 11-17. Schwartz was 29-51 in Detroit. Mike Smith was 67-50 in Atlanta. Joe Torre was 894-1,003 before managing the Yankees. Anyone who feels compelled to pound the table for one of the available candidates is guessing.

Who knew Sean McVay would be this good this soon?

No one knew.

Here’s what an inexact science this head coaching manhunt is: George Young championed the cause of Ray Handley.

New Year’s Day is too early for Baggie Day.

“It just wasn’t a together team like it was two years ago,” Sterling Shepard said.

The credibility of the franchise is at stake.

Gett it right.