Eli Manning wasn’t made available on Monday when the media was allowed in the Giants locker room as the players collected their belongings in preparation for the offseason.
Word filtered down the Giants quarterback didn’t see the need as he would likely get similar questions to the ones he answered following the Giants’ season-ending 36-35 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
His reluctance to continue discussion of his future is reasonable given there are really no more answers to give until the Giants formally announce he is returning as the starting quarterback. Until that decision is made, it will hover over the Giants’ entire offseason and planning for 2019.
The announcement needs to come sooner rather than later. All indications are the Giants want Manning back, and if that’s the case, then there’s little reason to keep from making things official.
“I have no answers for you about any player moving forward,” Pat Shurmur said Monday following a 5-11 record in his first year as the head coach. “This is about player acquisition, player evaluation and things quite frankly we won’t be willing to share.”
It will be tough to keep their plans about Manning secret. It remains the most important question of the offseason. If the Giants want Manning back, they should make it clear they do. It’s important the Giants spend their offseason without much uncertainty — especially at quarterback. There’s no reason to wait until the draft if they have no plans to select a quarterback with the No. 6-overall pick.
The Giants talked a lot about continuity Monday and how much progress has been made in terms of coaches knowing players, players knowing coaches, and coaches knowing each other. Confirming Manning will be back for a 16th season only adds to that continuity.
Shurmur noted Manning played better the second half of the season once the offensive line was solidified after injuries and the release of Ereck Flowers and Patrick Omameh.
“What we want to be offensively was better showcased from the bye week on,” Shurmur said. “That’s what we need to do.”
Manning was sacked 31 times before the bye and just 16 over the final eight games. Despite his early struggles, he set a career high by completing 66 percent of his passes thanks mainly to the safety-valve hands of running back Saquon Barkley. Manning also threw 21 touchdowns against 11 interceptions and ended the year with a 92.4 quarterback rating, his best in three years.
Eli Manning talking like he expects to return as Giants QB
Eli Manning sure sounds like a quarterback who expects to…
The last look of the season was not good. Getting the ball at midfield and needing a field goal to beat the Cowboys, Manning misfired badly on three of four incomplete passes. Barkley, who became just the third rookie running back in NFL history to gain 2,000 yards from scrimmage in a season, didn’t touch the ball on the final series.
Barkley admitted it was “tough” not to get the ball in his hands during that final drive.
“I want to be that guy to make the play for my team to put us in the position to win a game,” he said. “Sometimes you fall short in life and that game and that drive we fell short. We did that too many times this season.”
Among Barkley’s offseason goals is to keep in touch with Manning, which is another reason why the Giants need to erase any uncertainty. Manning, who turns 38 on Thursday, remains a huge positive influence on Barkley.
“I will check in with Eli,” Barkley said. “I love working out with teammates. I’m a big believer that it helps build a great team.”
There are plenty of areas the Giants need to upgrade in order to be a playoff contender next season. The offensive line needs tinkering, the defense that gave up too many points late in games needs an upgrade.
The Giants need to make the playoffs next season. Manning gives them the best chance to do that.