You can count on one hand — with a few fingers to spare — the number of times I’ve agreed with Pat Shurmur during his tenure as head coach of the New York Giants.
In the final moments of a meaningless game at MetLife Stadium, which had more NFL Draft ramifications than anything else, he got something right.
And it will provide Giants fans with a lasting positive memory amidst one of the darker times in franchise history.
The Giants were well on their way to just their third win of the season, leading the Miami Dolphins 36-20 with 1:50 left when the wily old vet, Eli Manning, took his all-too-familiar trot out on the field to lead the offense.
All he had to do was put the finishing touches on a game that was the perfect embodiment of his 16-year career.
There were some good throws, a circus catch (Golden Tate’s 51-yard score), some needless interceptions (he had three on the day). But above all, he found a way to get the job done.
So, it was fitting that Shurmur lifted Manning from the game after one play on the Giants’ final drive, allowing him to leave the field to a standing ovation from a fan base that had largely adored him over the past two decades.
Hey, Alex Tanney officially has a claim to fame as the guy who replaced Eli in his final start at MetLife Stadium.
Giants fans have every reason to look toward the future. They’re 11-35 since 2017 with Sunday’s victory breaking a franchise-record nine-game losing streak. Shurmur is going be shown the door soon and — if ownership is smart — they’ll do the same for general manager Dave Gettleman.
We’re officially in the Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley era of Giants football as the blue side of MetLife Stadium will dream of the youthful battery combining forces to return the once-proud franchise to former glory.
They’re likely to pick up a big piece to help that cause at the 2020 draft, too, as the rebuild continues.
But Sunday was not about that. Not even in the slightest.
Sunday was about giving the greatest quarterback in franchise history the proper send-off in front of his home fans.
Props to Shurmur for hitting this one out of the park.
It’s unclear at this time whether or not Manning will play again in a Giants uniform.
With Jones still nursing an ankle injury, Shurmur didn’t write off Manning not playing in Week 16 against the Washington Redskins in Landover, MD on Monday morning.
Jones’ injury — suffered in Week 13 — was expected to hold him out between two and four weeks. He’s right on schedule as he’s close to returning for Sunday’s divisional clash of NFC East minnows.
If anything, Manning gets one more run out at FedEx Field while Jones returns for the season finale at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But I’d rather see Manning’s last plays as a Giant at the Meadowlands in blue, riding off into the sunset to a hero’s farewell following a victory.
It’s as fitting a conclusion as ever for the Book of Eli.