One of the guys who knows he’ll be back next season already is looking forward to it.
And he wants to return with the same offense.
“I feel very comfortable in the offense,” said Eli Manning, who could be asked to learn a third system in four years if there are wholesale changes to the coaching staff in the coming weeks and months. “We scored a lot of points, we were competitive in most of the games, and I thought we had a great game plan. I think with the guys we have and add a few guys, we can be a strong offense.”
Manning said he’s not certain he will relay those sentiments directly to the franchise’s decision-makers. “We’ll see what happens with that,” he said. But he certainly is aware that two seasons in Ben McAdoo’s offense could be all he gets.
If that’s the case, it will be because of what the team sowed. The Giants have managed only 12 wins in 32 games since McAdoo came aboard for the start of the 2014 season. Not all of that has been the fault of the offense, of course. But sweeping changes do not always hesitate for logic.
“I thought with this squad we could have won a lot of games this year and we had opportunities to win a lot of games,” Manning said. “I thought we played hard all year. I thought every game we were well-prepared, we had a good plan and we just didn’t make plays in critical moments of the game to win.”
Manning finished with a career-high 35 touchdown passes, 14 interceptions (which tied his second-fewest in a full season) and a career-high passer rating of 93.6 (the ruling that what looked like a pick-6 in the third quarter actually was a fumble helped keep that number above his previous career high of 93.1).
He also turned 35 Sunday, which could mean that his window for championship-level play is closing.
Next season, Manning could be playing for only the second head coach of his career. He and Tom Coughlin have been together for 183 games, the third-most in NFL history for a head coach-starting quarterback combo (Bill Belichick and Tom Brady hold the record at 223; Don Shula and Dan Marino had 184).
“Whether it is or not, he’s been a great coach,” Manning said of the possibility that his professional relationship with Coughlin will end. “He’s been a great influence on me.”