Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 12-10-19

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
Generally, telephone conference calls with the head coach are somewhat predicable.

If the next-day ritual is after a victory, there is much laughter, a few wise-guy comments and compliments doled out to the players and the coaching staff.

If it takes place after a defeat, the atmosphere is far more subdued. Questions are asked and answered (usually) with shorter sentences and a more somber tone.

Then there was Tuesday afternoon when Giants' head coach Pat Shurmur took his turn on the speaker phone. His guys had just lost their ninth consecutive game (tying the all-time team record set in 1976) and the unspoken thought, the so-called elephant in the room, concerned on Shurmur's job.

When the subject did finally arrive, couched as it was in innuendo and speculation, Shurmur's response was measured. "When you have a losing streak," he said, "you just do the best you can. You plan for the next game and try to find a way to win it. As for the rest, you'll have to ask ownership about it."

Ownership isn't talking - not yet, anyway - but there are ample indications that say shortly after the end of this lost season there will be answers and announcements.

And yes, it is entirely possible that Shurmur will join the list of former Giants' head coaches.

As to the Monday night embarrassment in Philadelphia, a 24-17 loss to the Eagles who improved their record all the way up to 6-7 (don't laugh, that tied them with the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East Division lead), the only intriguing subject was the immediate future of veteran quarterback Eli Manning.

He started, you see, for the first time since Week Two, and since he is 38 years old, and since his replacement is already on the roster, and since he doesn't have any time left on his contract, it is reasonable to conclude that this is his last season.

To that end, and after all he has done for the team, all the hard work and often impeccable performances, he might deserve a little "farewell tour," as it were, since there are now only three games remaining.

But when asked if rookie Daniel Jones will be back if his sprained ankle allows it, Shurmur simply said: "We'll have to see how he moves around tomorrow [in practice]. "I can't tell you that at this point. I need to see Daniel move around and then we'll see where he's at to start the week. But if Daniel can't go ... Eli will start."

Shurmur feels Jones is improving. The rookie was able to spend Monday night's game standing on the sideline without a protective boot. "He's making progress," Shurmur said, "but it's hard for me to say exactly where he's at until we see him move around [Wednesday]."

Oh, come on, the old guy threw two long touchdown passes in the first half, gave the Giants a halftime lead, read all the defensive formations and otherwise looked and performed like a veteran. Why not let him play one final game in his home stadium before he joins his older brother in the millionaires' retirement plan?

"I thought Eli did a lot of good things," he said. "I thought he battled. But on whether he'll play the rest of the season, I don't know. We'll just have to see."

He did a lot of good things? Thanks, coach. But he also said the same thing about left tackle Nate Solder, who most certainly DID NOT do a lot of good things.

Shurmur has framed his responses to the end of the season, is rehearsing them, if you like. But he did add this: "I try as an educator to give each guy the best chance to win, and I'll continue to say that I see improvement."

And when Eagles' tight end Zach Ertz caught the winning touchdown pass in overtime, a two-yard toss from Carson Wentz that landed in his hands while he was completely alone in the middle of the end zone, Shurmur said: "We just dropped the coverage on him, there is no other explanation for that. It's disappointing. Let's just leave it at that."

If Shurmur is handed his pink slip sometimes during the first few days of January, there are a few questions to be asked, but they will not concern defensive coordinator James Bettcher and offensive coordinator Mike Shula. If Shurmur is gone, they're gone, too, on merit. And probably the rest of the coaching staff as well.

Of interest, however, is whether general manager Dave Gettleman will accompany Shurmur out the door. Gettleman's resume should contain these few words: "Great drafts, lousy free agent signings, lousy trades."

EXTRA POINTS - Rookie wide receiver Darius Slayton, who caught both of Manning's touchdown passes Monday night and contributed seven receptions for 154 total yards (all in the first half), pushed his season totals to 42 receptions for 659 yards. ... Running back Saquon Barkley has 610 yards rushing in 154 carries (he did gain 1,307 as a rookie).

Preliminary injury report: Guard Kevin Zeitler suffered a sprained ankle but as of now is not scheduled to miss Sunday's game at home against equally dreadful Miami, which has a 3-10 record and is a positive threat to the Giants' position in the first round of the draft next April. ... Only Cincinnati (1-12) has a worse record than Shurmur's guys. ... Washington and Miami are 3-10, Detroit and Arizona 3-9-1.

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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