East Rutherford, N.J. — While the win total has increased slightly after a fiasco of a 2017 season, Pat Shurmur sees good things on the horizon for the New York Giants.
That’s provided the Giants (5-10) learn how to finish games.
It’s been one of their major weaknesses this season and they head into the final week of a fruitless season coming off another late-game collapse in a 28-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
It was the third time this season Shurmur has seen the Giants lose a road game when the opposition scored the deciding points in the final minute. Seven of their losses have been by seven points or less.
“We’ve won some games, but we haven’t won enough, and so that’s the growth that has to take place, and for those of us that aren’t very patient, it’s a painful process until we get to that point where we’re winning all of these games at the end – not just a few of them, but all of them,” Shurmur said Monday, a day after the Giants squandered an early 14-0 lead.
“We all know that it comes down to a drive or two at the end or the critical plays at the end of a game,” he added. “There’s things that we’re doing that are good enough, but right is right. We’ve got to do it throughout the game and we’ve got to win them.”
Looking back, this has been a turnaround year. The roster has fewer than 15 players left over from last year’s 3-13 season. While Eli Manning has remained the quarterback, the offense has changed and has added dynamic rookie halfback Saquon Barkley to a group of playmakers that include wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard and the suddenly revitalized and healthy Evan Engram at tight end.
The defense has shown flashes. The takeaways have picked up, but the run defense and finding ways to close out games have faltered too much.
“You’ve got to go out and take these wins, nobody gives you anything,” Shurmur said. “So when you get to the position like we were at the end of this game, it’s safe to say we’ve been in a handful of these this season where we’ve won a couple and then we’ve let a couple get away from us. But nothing’s given to you in this league, you’ve got to go take it.”
Shurmur refused to say his team needed better players, insisting he liked the group he has now.
However, a few more players will help.
The Giants, who have made the playoffs once since 2011, are close to be a contender, Shurmur said.
“I think as we start building and as the players get better, as we improve, as we understand situations and how to play each situation better, then eventually this thing pushes over the top,” Shurmur said of his first season in charge. “So I would agree with their assessment.”
• Shurmur said some of his injured players are close to returning for the Dallas game on Sunday. He did not mention Beckham, who has missed the last three games with a quadriceps injury. … The players had a short day Monday and will be off Tuesday for Christmas. The coaches will have Tuesday morning off but will be back in the afternoon to work on the Cowboys. … Manning will start Sunday at MetLife Stadium. … The game has little meaning since the Cowboys won the NFC East and will have a wild-card game at home.