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Giants know Eagles’ game gives them a chance to right their ship

Despite 1-4 record, Shurmur and players talk about continuing to improve

NFL: New York Giants at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

A burning ship.

It’s an image I can’t seem to get out of my head after New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur said, in discussing the team’s injured players, that “You burn the ships on every game.”

With a 1-4 start to the 2018 season, the recent controversy over the remarks by Odell Beckham Jr., Lil Wayne’s blunt response to Eli Manning and those wondering why he was involved in the Beckham-Josina Anderson interview, and the release of a benched former first-round pick this week, you might think the ship that might be the Giants’ 2018 season is fully ablaze.

Is it really, though? The Giants have the good fortune at this point of playing in the mediocre NFC East, where the 2-2 Washington Redskins lead the division.

1 - Washington Redskins (2-2)
2 - Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
3 - Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)
4 - New York Giants (1-4)

The Giants’ ship might not be completely on fire but it has taken on some water. The Giants, though, don’t appear to be looking for the life boats — yet. They are talking like a team determined to bail the water, patch the holes and try to things right this season.

Tight end Evan Engram, who has a chance to play after missing the past two weeks with an MCL sprain, says the Giants are “well aware” of the standings and know that “this Thursday is a huge game for us.”

The Giants have 11 games to play, and five of those are against division rivals. The first of those, of course, is Thursday night when the host the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles at MetLife Stadium.

If they win that one, the Giants will be right in the middle of what Engram called a “pretty wide open” division.

Giants coach Pat Shurmur isn’t focused on those standings.

“That really has no effect on us right now. We have to go out and win a game. That is what it is, but it’s just another indication and I’ve been saying it all along, you just keep playing. You never know. I think the last two times that the Giants made the (playoffs), I think they were 9-7, so we’ve just got to keep playing,” he said on Tuesday.

Players, though, are aware of the standings

Veteran EDGE rusher Connor Barwin admitted the division’s mediocrity makes it easier to stay positive.

“You’re still playing games that are meaningful, are very meaningful, with the way the division is playing out right now,” he said.

Rookie running back Saquon Barkley said the Giants’ goals are still within reach:

“I think everyone’s goal is to win a Super Bowl and that’s still in play and in my opinion, if you ask me, like you said I think we’re a game behind in the division and I know I haven’t been in the NFL for a long time, but I think if you win your division, you automatically go into the playoffs, so everything like I said before, that coach Shurmur said a couple weeks ago, everything that we want in our season is still there,” Barkley said.

As his locker on Tuesday, Beckham put it this way:

“I think you could take away everything that’s happened this season, I think the urgency is what it is right now. We know we need to win right now, regardless of our situation,” he said. “The mentality is to win each and every game and now there is a big opportunity ahead of us to be able to take control of our season and build from this even after the bad that we’ve had already. We can overcome it all starting with this game – not just one game, but starting with this game, and going from there on.”

The Giants feel like they are getting better

That was Engram on Tuesday. And yes, it sounds a bit like pie-in-the-sky player speak, like what the Giants have to say with more that two-thirds of the season remaining. You get the sense, though, that they do believe they are on the upswing.

“I don’t know if you watched us last weekend’s game, but there was a point in that game where maybe last year or the old DNA of this team would’ve given up or would’ve tapped out. We fought,” Engram said. “Our confidence is up, our energy is up. We’re working our butts off, nobody has their head down or anything.”

Beckham, after questioning the team’s heart and energy in his interview on ESPN, seemed optimistic on Tuesday.

“Nobody in here likes to lose, we’re all tired of losing, we want to change that culture, atmosphere, whatever it is, because this is a place that has a lot of pride and we want to be able to be proud of what we display and do all those things,” Beckham said. “It was a big week for us. We took a big step. Unfortunately, we lost on a 63-yard field goal. If I had to lose on a 63-yard field goal, so be it. That’s impressive by that kicker to be able to do that with the game on the line and hit it. We’re taking steps in the right direction.”

“This team is getting better every week,” Barwin said. “I think there’s still a lot of belief in this locker room right now. We’re all focused on getting better and finding a way to finish this Thursday night.”

If they can, maybe, just maybe they can play some meaningful games the rest of the season. If not, it might be time to get those life rafts. Because, as Shurmur might say the Giants will be “Finito. Done.”