EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Pat Shurmur doesn't need to be reminded of the Giants' record, or their current standing in the NFC East basement.
He understands the Giants' long-term planning, but it doesn't top his current agenda.
And yes, Eli Manning is still the team's starting quarterback.
Shurmur's reasoning is simple. Although the circumstances are not what he'd like or expected, his primary goal remains what it has been all season: win the next game. That didn't change after the result yesterday, a 25-22 loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia. And it will be true this coming Sunday, when the 3-8 Giants host an 8-3 Chicago Bears team that has won five consecutive games.
"You go into every week with giving your team the best opportunity to win the football game," Shurmur said today. "That's how you do this thing. This isn't player tryouts, this is do everything in your power to win the next game. Today's Monday, so we're in the Monday phase of that process."
The Giants arrived in Philadelphia having won their previous two games, against San Francisco and Tampa Bay. Manning threw five touchdown passes and no interceptions in those victories, and he completed 17 of his 18 throws against the Buccaneers. But yesterday Manning threw a costly interception late in the first half, and the Giants' 16-point second-quarter lead dissolved into another defeat.
Today, Shurmur fielded the same questions he did during the Giants' five-game losing streak: isn't he obligated to look beyond just the next game, and perhaps look at another quarterback?
"Always looking at the big picture," he said, "What's the big picture, though?"
It was suggested perhaps it was to find out what the Giants have in Kyle Lauletta, the former Richmond quarterback chosen on the fourth round of this year's NFL Draft. Lauletta has been inactive every game this season, prompting Shurmur to both ask a question of his own and reiterate what his current priority is.
"Why are you jumping over (Alex) Tanney (who is No. 2 on the depth chart, but hasn't taken a snap all year)?" Shurmur said. "There's my point. What you try to do is win each game and then as we go forward here, you make your decision based on winning the game, and you base your decision on putting a team on the field that gives you the best chance to win the game. I get that, but as a coach, I stay in the moment. We certainly have conversations about what runs parallel, the short-term and the long-term. There's conversations about that that happen all the time in any organization. You're a big corporation, your short-term gains and, 'Okay, where the hell are we going?' I'm not foolish enough to think that doesn't happen.
"We're going to try to do what we can to win the game, but along the way, we do keep a long-term mindset."
Asked if he could envision a scenario in which he would start Tanney and not Lauletta, Shurmur stayed on message when he said, "If we felt like he was giving us the best chance to win. That's the coach's view."
It's currently moot, because Manning will start the 226th game of his career on Sunday. And that's exactly as he wants it, as always.
"I expect to start until I'm told not to," Manning said. "I expect to start this week. I expect to play. Looking forward to playing, and go from there."
Manning said he has "no concern" about the team's optimism as it prepares to play its final five games.
"I think we've been practicing well," he said. "We've been playing tough games, and being competitive. All the games we've played, they've been close. The ones we've won have been close and down to the wire. The same last week. In this league, you got to make the plays in the critical moments, and we didn't do it this past game, unfortunately, and didn't get the win. We've got a good group of guys. It's important to guys. We feel like we're going to keep fighting, we're going to keep preparing, and going out there and still chase that feeling of that locker room after a win. That's a good feeling. It makes the week go easier. It makes Mondays feel better. It makes Tuesdays, it makes everything just easier to take when you're winning football games. So, that's what we're chasing."
It's Shurmur's priority. And he believes Manning gives them the best chance to end that chase with a victory.
*Tight end Evan Engram was in uniform yesterday, but didn't play a down after injuring his hamstring during pregame warmups.
"It was definitely more of a grab (than a pull)," Engram said. "I've had a worse one before, so I'm able to kind of scale it, but it was definitely a grab. It was something that was not easy to kind of put behind me."
Engram said he might have played had the game circumstances aligned correctly.
"I was ready if we had a certain situation," he said. "We jumped out early without me playing, so it was kind of, 'Okay, let's hold it,' and then by the time the game got closer and by looking at the flow of the game, I was kind of not as warm as I was. Just wasn't the smartest idea to be thrown in."
Engram, who missed three games and most of a fourth early in the season with a knee injury, is hopeful he will be on the field against the Bears.
"The test I did today with the trainers I feel optimistic about," he said. "It's definitely something that's going to be based on how I feel and if I can be explosive and trust it, and be the player that I am."
*The Giants today placed return specialist Quadree Henderson on injured reserve. Henderson fractured his shoulder in Philadelphia.
Rookie tight end Garrett Dickerson, who played in two games earlier this season, was re-signed to replace Henderson on the roster. Dickerson was released from the practice squad last week when kicker Marshall Koehn was signed. The Giants today terminated Koehn's practice squad contract.
*Shurmur said linebacker B.J. Goodson is questionable with a shoulder stinger.