It is now check your professional pride time for the New York Giants. At 5-9 and officially eliminated from the playoffs the Giants have to finish the season by playing two games that can neither help them reach the postseason nor avoid ending the year with a losing record.
Head coach Pat Shurmur has been preaching a “play for each other” mantra to the players all season. This week, he said the Giants would “stay in the moment” and try to prepare to defeat the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday.
Will players, however, do those things? Will they continue to prepare the same way they have the first 15 weeks of the season? Will they play with the same intensity, putting their body on the line when the moment calls for it? Or, will their thoughts turn to offseason vacations? When it is their time to make a play will they instead make what is often called a business decision?
Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman have spent much of the year since they were hired trying to change a losing culture. The Giants haven’t won enough games in 2018, but in many ways it has seemed that the cultural change they sought has begun to take root. Perhaps we will learn more about how successful that effort has been over the next couple of weeks.
“I know from my standpoint and I know our players in the locker room, we’re going to try to get the most out of these next two weeks and try to win two football games because that joy that you feel from winning, even though we’re not going to be able to go on this year, that’s something that we want to feel,” said Shurmur.
“Come out here and put something good on tape these last two weeks, regardless of what our scenario is because all our names are on this tape,” safety Michael Thomas said when asked about what he expected from his teammates the final two weeks. “You don’t want to be that guy who will turn down a block, not working, not going hard, not on your assignments. That tape is going to stick with you for the rest of your career.”
Wide receiver Sterling Shepard voiced a similar sentiment.
“We’re still going to work,” he said. “Guys are still upbeat in here and we’re going to work and try to win these next two games. That’s what our focus is.”
Quarterback Eli Manning said the goal is to “end the season strong.”
“I think it’s important to everybody. We’re all fighting for jobs, fighting to play good football. That’s the goal every Sunday, is to go out there and to win, and try to do your job to the best of your ability. Coaches are going to be coaching. Players, we’re going to be practicing. We’re going to be game planning. We’re going to be watching film. We’re going to be putting in the work, putting in the effort,” he said. “Sunday, that’s the fun day. That’s the day where you go get to celebrate. You get to go feel good, score touchdowns, and be with your team, and compete. You definitely want to end the season strong.”
Numbers that matter
9 — That is how many points the Colts, winners of seven of their last eight games, are favored by. Indianapolis has rallied from a 1-5 start to have a shot at an AFC wild-card playoff berth. Nine is also where the Giants are in the current 2019 NFL Draft order.
28-of-29 — That is what Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas has done this season on field-goal attempts.
4,000 — Eli Manning needs 311 passing yards to reach 4,000 for the seventh time in his career.
387 — Manning (331) needs 57 completions over the final two games to break his single season record for completions, which he set in 2015.
The Saquon section
1,153 — Saquon Barkley is third in the NFL in rushing behind Ezekiel Elliott (1,349) and Todd Gurley (1,251).
1,809 — That is Barkley’s total yards from scrimmage. He needs 191 over the final two games to become the third rookie in NFL history with 2,000.
82 — That’s how many receptions Barkley has. He needs seven catches to break Reggie Bush’s record for receptions by a rookie running back (88 in 2006). Barkley needs 10 receptions to break the Giants franchise record for receptions by a rookie. Odell Beckham Jr, had 91 in 2014.
12 — Barkley has 12 games this season with at least 100 scrimmage yards, tying Edgerrin James (12 games in 1999) for the second-most games with 100+ scrimmage yards by a rookie in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (13 games in 1983) has more such games.
5 — Barkley (4) needs one receiving touchdown to break David Meggett’s record for a Giants rookie running back (4 in 1989).
10 — Barkley (9) needs one rushing touchdown to become the first Giants’ running back to reach double digits in that category since Brandon Jacobs (15 in 2008).