EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants will have many worldly issues to confront in the coming weeks and months, but their focus now is right where it's been for the last 3½ months – on the next game.
The debates and decisions about the composition of the roster that dominate every offseason will wait until after the Giants conclude their season on Sunday at home against the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants are 5-10 and looking to end the season with victory, while the priority of the 9-6 Cowboys will likely be staying healthy for their upcoming NFC Wild Card Game.
"We'll have longer conversations with all the players on Monday to talk about what our expectations are moving forward," coach Pat Shurmur said today. "I'm ready for that. We've done this long enough where there's sort of a blueprint for that. And there's certain things I expect to see from the younger players, and then I just expect that they're going to be professional about what they do with their time and take it from there. I have a more detailed blueprint of where it's going to go. I have an idea of what January, February, March needs to look like. But that's not for anybody to know yet until after we play the next game."
At their respective news conferences today, both Shurmur and Eli Manning kept to the game-intensive script when asked about the quarterback's future.
"Eli's our starter, Eli gives us the best chance to win, and he's going to play on Sunday," Shurmur said. "That's where we're at. I think when the game is over and we start talking in depth about what's going to happen moving forward, that's when you worry about it. I'm not worried about that. Again, you're talking to the coach. I'm worried about the game."
"You want to finish strong," said Manning, who completed 25 of 33 passes for 309 yards in the Giants' 28-27 loss in Indianapolis on Sunday. "We've been doing some good things this last half of the season. You want to go out there and just kind of finish on a good note. Playing against a good team, and just want to go out there and execute, and just feel good about this last game."
Manning would be very happy if the only questions he had to answer were game-related, and not about … Eli Manning. Interrogated today about the future, he kept his answers atypically brief.
Q: Have you thought about the possibility that this could be your last game with the Giants?
Manning: "No, just worried about this game, and finishing this season, and going out there and playing hard."
Q: Have you had any talks with the front office about your contract? Either re-working it or extending it?
Q: Would you consider that if that's what it took to come back next year?
Manning: "We'll handle all of that after the season."
Q: Do you view this game…
Manning: "I view it as the last game of this season, and that's it."
Q: Do you view this game as a way to create momentum into 2019?
Manning: "Every season is going to be different. Every year is going to be different. I think this is just an opportunity to go out there and play a good team, and try to go finish this season strong."
Manning has completed a career-high 66.5 percent of his passes in his 15th season as the Giants' quarterback. He has thrown just 10 interceptions, his lowest total since he threw 10 in 2008. Manning needs just two passing yards to reach 4,000 in a season for the seventh time in his career, and one touchdown pass to have at least 20 for the 12th time.
"He still has it in him, in my eyes," wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. "Smartest guy I ever played with, and he's still making all the throws. You can see last week, he made a lot of great throws, made great decisions with the ball."
When he takes the first snap on Sunday, Manning will have started 230 of the Giants' last 231 games. It will be the 13th season in the last 14 in which he started every game.
But to Manning, his teammates and coaches, those numbers are irrelevant to the pursuit of the week's goal.
"Hopefully, what I expect him to do is lead us to victory," Shurmur said. "Nothing would be better than for him to assume the victory formation and take a knee, and beating the Cowboys. That's what we're looking to do."
*Five Giants players did not practice today, including three who did not play in Indianapolis: wide receivers Odell Beckham, Jr. (quad) and Russell Shepard (ankle), and linebacker Alec Ogletree (concussion). They were joined by two players who were hurt against the Colts: tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion) and defensive lineman Mario Edwards (calf).
Three players were limited: center Spencer Pulley (calf), who did not play in Indianapolis, plus linebacker B.J. Goodson (foot) and Sterling Shepard (hip).
Defensive lineman Kerry Wynn, who was inactive on Sunday with a thumb injury, practiced fully.
*Sterling Shepard has been elected the winner of the 18th annual George Young Good Guy Award, as voted on by the Giants' chapter of the Professional Football Writers of America.
The award, named for the late general manager of the Giants, is given annually to recognize a Giants player for his consistent and outstanding cooperation with the writers who cover the team on a daily basis. Shepard, in his third season with the Giants, has been one of the most productive players on the offense while maintaining accessibility and honesty with reporters during a difficult season for the team.
Safety and special teams captain Michael Thomas finished in second place (he is also the Giants' nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award). Quarterback Eli Manning, who won the award in 2008, and rookie running back Saquon Barkley finished tied for third. Eleven different players received votes from members of the Giants media and five of those players received at least one first-place vote.
Winners of the George Young Good Guy Award:
2018 – WR Sterling Shepard
2017 – S Landon Collins
2016 – WR Victor Cruz
2015 – CB Prince Amukamara
2014 – RB Rashad Jennings
2013 – CB Terrell Thomas
2012 – S Antrel Rolle
2011 – WR Victor Cruz
2010 – DT Barry Cofield
2009 – DE Mathias Kiwanuka
2008 – QB Eli Manning
2007 – DE Justin Tuck
2006 – WR Plaxico Burress
2005 – RB Tiki Barber
2004 – QB Kurt Warner
2003 – WR Ike Hilliard
2002 – QB Kerry Collins
2001 – OL Lomas Brown