The Giants will be ringing in the new year on a sour note, as Sunday will be the end to a pitiful season.
Not even the fact that Sunday’s opponent, the Eagles (6-9), are arguably having a worse holiday season with the firing of head coach Chip Kelly can raise the mood, because for the fourth-straight season, the Giants (6-9) will not partake in the postseason.
Philadelphia’s Saturday night loss to the NFC East-winning Washington Redskins ended any dream scenario of this Sunday’s battle being for all the marbles, which means MetLife Stadium will be host to a meaningless game between two apathetic franchises.
It may seem difficult to cut out the surrounding noise, but to a man, they’ve been implored by head coach Tom Coughlin to ignore his own fate – and even that of their own, as a roster upheaval is certain – and simply worry about “finishing” the season on a positive note.
The Eagles have won four of the last five in this rivalry, so there’s still something to achieve, noted quarterback Eli Manning.
“The whole team, everybody, wants to end on a high note and play well. Understand we’ve got a great opportunity to go play football, something we all love to do, and we cherish these opportunities,” Manning said. “So let’s go out there and play at a high level and enjoy playing the game.”
That’s easier said than done, as there hasn’t been much joy going around the facilities lately because the Giants endured yet another late-season tailspin, losing four of their last five games. There’s an “air of finality,” as Coughlin put it, which explains why most of the talk from the players during Wednesday’s availability centered on what could’ve been – as well as job securities.
Coughlin’s tenuous hold on his job was bandied about more than anything Eagles related, as defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul led the pro-Coughlin charge.
“The guys love him and I would love to see him back next year,” said Pierre-Paul, who doesn’t know if even he’ll be back next season. “I feel like half of it is my fault" after missing the first eight games due to the infamous hand injury.
The star defensive end then switched gears to his own campaign, noting he wants to re-sign with the team next season – and they’d be wise to feel the same way.
“They don’t need me, but they need a pass-rusher. I’m pretty sure the organization will get it right and hopefully I’m here to see it next year,” said Pierre-Paul, adding that there’s nobody in the Giants locker room who can replace his talents. “I feel like whoever has me is going to get a great football player. Everybody knows that ... But we’re going to do what’s best for me. [Skilled pass-rushing defensive ends] don’t come often. Everybody knows that.”
Manning was naturally more diplomatic when asked about returning players, coaches, and overall job security, as he desperately tried to get back on topic and discuss the Eagles.
“We just need to worry about playing football, worry about having our mind on our assignments, our job, our practice, and getting ready to play this football game,” Manning said. “We’re going to listen to him [Coughlin] and not focus on [job security]. Pay attention to what he says and focus on this game, beating Philadelphia, and doing our jobs. … [Coughlin] told us to just focus on the game and play well, so that’s what we want to do.”
That’s easier said than done, even by the most robotic and focused of players.
Big Blue notes:
- Coughlin said he has not spoken with co-owner John Mara this week, but is certain to do so by Monday morning.
- Pierre-Paul revealed that he’ll have surgery after the season to his right middle finger, designed to improve his grip. He noted he could’ve had it sooner, but wanted to return in time to try and help the team.
- Odell Beckham, who returned to practice following his one-game suspension, was asked whether he was threatened with a baseball bat before the Panthers game: “It’s really irrelevant now.” He added that “words are just words,” when asked if some of the Panthers players hurled homophobic slurs at him.
- Cornerback Prince Amukamara was presented the George Young Good Guy Award from the Giants’ chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association for his cooperation with the media.
It was a terrible year for the Giants, but a personal boon for Manning. He needs just 27 attempts to exceed the franchise record of 601 that he set last season … With 17 completions, he will break the record of 379 that he set last year … If he throws for 277 yards, he’ll move into second place on the franchise’s single season mark. It’ll also be his fifth-career 4,000-yard passing season … Manning could also break Y.A. Tittle’s 52-year old franchise mark of 36 passing touchdowns if he throws four on Sunday. His 33 touchdown passes are already