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5 things we learned from Monday's interviews

spags-center2-1118.jpg highlights five takeaways from Monday's Exit Day interviews:


>Watch Giants Exit Day interviews
>Giants draft pick and opponents finalized
>2017 season closes with win over Redskins
> hands out game balls after "W"
>Steve Spagnuolo's locker room speech

After his first victory as interim head coach of the New York Giants, Steve Spagnuolo told his team "don't ever stop chasing this feeling." For some in that postgame locker room, though, that feeling will be chased somewhere else. The next few months will usher in the next generation of the organization, which will have a new head coach, new general manager, and the second pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. With an uncertain future, Spagnuolo addressed the team one more time Monday afternoon at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

"We talked about the game and the things we did and that was fun talking about it," he said. "We talked about going forward, you know, exit physicals and exit interviews and all those things and now we're onto the offseason. So, to me, I didn't say it to the guys today, but there's 19 other organizations having the same meetings today that we're having. Little disappointed the season is over. One month from now, there will be 11 other teams that will be disappointed in the way their season ended and there will only be one team standing that will be content and happy jumping up and down. The next day, February 5th I think it is. all 32 teams will be 0-0. It'll be a new season. It'll be trying to do the same thing, which will be bring us the Super Bowl trophy home to their organization."


For their finale against Washington, the Giants trotted out three receivers -- Hunter Sharp, Travis Rudolph and Marquis Bundy – making there NFL starting debuts as well as an offensive line that included rookie tackles Adam Bisnowaty (first career game) and Chad Wheeler, guards John Jerry and Jon Halapio, and center Brett Jones. Jerry was replaced by John Greco after suffering a concussion in first quarter. Nevertheless, the Giants churned out 260 yards rushing as Eli Manning notched his 119th victory in a Giants uniform.

"I waited there to give him a big hug because I was really happy for him," Spagnuolo said. "Getting a win for all of us is important, but the quarterback especially. It was at Giants Stadium. We win the game with him taking three kneel-downs. It ruined our rushing stats. That was the only thing [offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan] – when he was on the headset, Sully goes, 'I know this is the right thing to do, but I hate the fact that this is going to go against our red zone stats.' I could appreciate what he was saying, but we were all enjoying the end of it."


A pillar in the organization since 2004, Eli Manning enters this offseason with a level of uncertainty he has never experienced in his storied career. After his consecutive starts streak came to an end in Week 13 and the team locked up the second pick in the draft on Sunday, only time will tell what the future holds for Manning and the Giants. "Well, yeah, I guess there's more uncertainty this year than after others," Manning said as players cleaned out their lockers for the offseason. "But it's always a disappointing day, that the season's over, [other than] the two years you win Super Bowls, where it's not. It's always tough that it's coming to an end and another year that didn't go as we wanted. You just try to learn from each game, each year, each situation and try to be better for it." If Manning does return – something he has expressed his desire to – the franchise quarterback would come back to a new scheme.

"I guess it just depends when all that is finalized and when you know who's the head coach and who's the offensive coordinator and what kind of offense is being put in," he said of his offseason training. "I guess I don't know what all the rules are, but as soon as you can get that information and get started on learning the system, the better."


The 2017 Giants are evidence of how quickly a season can turn in the NFL, but can the opposite happen just as fast? "Easily," cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. A year ago today, the Giants, having already clinched a postseason berth behind the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL, won their 11 game of the season in Washington. Yesterday, they concluded a 3-13 season with a minus-142 scoring differential, the second-worst in the league after Cleveland, which owns the No. 1 draft pick.

"Easily. Definitely," Rodgers-Cromartie said of turning it around in 2018. "I know the guys that are in the locker room, the guys that were hurt, I know they are eager to get back and get started and I can tell you that no man wants this taste in their mouth this whole offseason. So I think it was good to get a win even now to get that feeling back. It was a very, very difficult season, but I think guys' mindset is coming back and not having that feeling again." On an individual level, the 31-year-old said he would love to be back with the Giants for his 11th NFL season, even if it meant moving to free safety.

"Hey baby, you can put me anywhere as long as I plan to get on that field a little bit, I don't mind," he said. "Free safety, strong safety, linebacker, it doesn't matter. I'm just trying to be out there."


Justin Pugh, the Giants' first-round pick in 2013, is the only member of his draft class still on the roster. Whether or not that remains the case moving forward is to be determined. The veteran offensive lineman, who missed eight games with a back injury, knows changes are already underway with new general manager Dave Gettleman as he enters free agency.

"I want to win," he said. "I want to win now. I've been in five years. I only made the playoffs one time. Being in a good situation, being close to home was great for me, being so close to my family, always having them around. So all those things go into it. I'm looking forward to getting to it and it's an exciting time. This is the first time I'll ever get to choose where I play and the situation that I'm in. Obviously, I've grown up in New York. I want to be in New York. But we'll see what happens."

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