LANDOVER, Md. -- It has now been four out of five wins for the New York Giants since the bye week. None was more impressive than the rout delivered to the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon without Odell Beckham Jr. in the mix.
It took a while, but the Giants (5-8) are playing good football. That 1-7 start was their reality but it has gotten better.
The Giants dominated the Redskins, 40-16, on Sunday at FedEx Field with an exhibition that earned rave reviews for the offense, defense and special teams. There is nothing to nitpick this week. The Giants had a 40-0 lead at one point in an NFL game. That isn’t normal. This was the one they have desired for the past three years.
The Giants won’t win the division -- they were eliminated from NFC East contention when the Cowboys won on Sunday night -- and need a miracle involving the combination of a boatload of results to make the playoffs as a wild card. They have a 0.5 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. Still, the Giants have no choice but to move forward and roll with what is working, now and potentially even into next year.
It may be shortsighted in the long run, but it will be hard to justify anything else if they continue at this pace with three games remaining. The men in the locker room are out there with a purpose.
“We don’t talk about [playoffs] as players, but we all know. This is what we do. It’s not a hobby. It’s a job,” defensive lineman Josh Mauro said after recording a sack and two tackles for a loss against the Redskins. “You keep track of everybody’s records. You watch all the film. You keep track of all the games. I’m just speaking for most people. I can’t speak for everybody. Most guys keep track of all of it. It means something. It’s important.
“A lot of people wrote us off at 1-7. Odell went out and said we’re going to go 8-0 and go to the playoffs. People probably laughed at that but whatever. We’re grown a-- men in here and this is our job.”
With the Giants still playing for something -- even if it's just momentum going into next season -- it will be with Eli Manning as the starting quarterback. He’s played well during this current run (10 TD passes, 2 interceptions in the five games) and won his way into this spot. With each solid performance, the odds of him returning for another season increase. Manning has one year remaining on his current deal. He will be 38 years old next month.
Regardless, the offense doesn’t revolve around him anymore. Or Beckham. They’re passengers in this current incarnation of the offense designed by coach Pat Shurmur. Their success revolves around rookie running back Saquon Barkley, who had 197 total yards and a touchdown on 18 touches.
That is where the Giants are. They’re going to work off their run game and their spectacular rookie running back. Is it sustainable long term in a passing league where points are being scored at a record pace?
That is what we’re going to find out the final three weeks against the Titans, Colts and Cowboys. In the meantime, the Giants feel as if they are at least accomplishing something in the short term that will have its benefits for the future. They believe they're building.
“Years are connected and I think that’s something we’re trying to do,” Shurmur said.
The wins also make it seem less likely they will start rookie Kyle Lauletta at quarterback this season. Lauletta made his NFL debut in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s rout. It wasn’t what he dreamed up.
The fourth-round pick out of Richmond struggled. He didn’t complete any of his five pass attempts, unless you count the one that landed in the arms of Redskins linebacker Mason Foster.
“Obviously I didn’t do very well,” was Lauletta’s assessment of his first career action.
His development remains a work in progress. But Shurmur made it very clear just how far away he thinks the rookie is from being able to quarterback a team with something left to play for this season.
“I mean we felt like, ‘let’s take a look at him and see.’ I fielded enough questions regarding Kyle Lauletta that those of you that were interested in seeing him hopefully you got a chance to see what you were looking for,” Shurmur said.
It has once again become more about the now for the Giants. Their future is on hold. It has to be that way with four out of five wins and the playoffs not officially out of the realm of possibility.