Eli Manning said he appreciated his bye-week conversations with Pat Shurmur.
“It’s always good,” the Giants quarterback said Thursday. “Communication is important. He’s always been good with that and we’ve been on the same page. It’s always helpful just knowing where everybody stands.”
Of course, that standing for Manning has become tenuous. Shurmur’s chats with Manning during the team’s weekend respite essentially came down to this: You’re our quarterback, we want you to play well and fix this, but if you can’t do it soon, then we’ve got to move on.
All of which means Monday’s game against the 49ers – or next week’s against the Bucs or the week after that against the Eagles – could be the one that ends Manning’s tenure as the starting quarterback of the Giants. Shurmur has not said exactly how long a leash he has on the 37-year-old two-time Super Bowl MVP, but he’s made it clear in the last few days that he’s ready to yank it when he feels he has to.
The Giants (1-7) don’t have many appealing options behind Manning. Alex Tanney is the backup, but he has one career start and hasn’t taken a regular-season snap since 2015. Rookie Kyle Lauletta at least would give the Giants a glimpse of what the fourth-round pick from Richmond can offer them now and down the road, but it could be ugly for a kid whose last start in a game that counted was against William & Mary. Lauletta’s standing with the organization also is a bit strained right now following his arrest last week for a series of traffic violations (not to mention his tardiness to work that led to the infractions).
“I think we just want to play good football,” Shurmur said Thursday when asked what he wants to see from Manning against the 49ers. “What’s important is to stick with the progressions, get the ball out on time, understand all the situational football. You know, he’s done this at a high level for a very long time … He’s like everybody on the team. There are areas where he can improve, we talked about that, and we’ll get ready to go and put all our efforts toward beating San Francisco.”
With that last part, Manning concurred.
“Hey, I worry about this week,” he said. “We have the 49ers. I have a job to do and I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”
As for his agreement with the rest of what essentially is an ultimatum – soft-handed, but one nonetheless – Manning wasn’t tipping his hand. He’s already said things and shown signs that indicate he understands his time with the Giants is coming to a close. Perhaps all he can hope to do at this point is prolong it as long as possible.
“I think there’s urgency to get things going, for sure,” Manning said. “We’ve got to get some wins. We’ve got to get going, and everybody wants it. The team needs it, for the morale and for just the hard work and everything we put in. Just need to reap the benefits of the work and feel good about what we’re doing.”
Monday’s game will give him another chance to do that. Beyond it, who knows how many more he’ll have.
That may have to be the topic of future phone chats.
“I think my conversation with him over the weekend is what coaches and quarterbacks do as you plot a course moving forward,” Shurmur said.
The only variable in that is whom he calls next.