What did we learn from Pat Shurmur’s first statements as New York Giants head coach?
The New York Giants welcomed in Pat Shurmur, their 18th head coach in the history of the franchise on Friday morning, and their third in the past 25 months.
“(Management) did a considerable amount of research, which included speaking with executives and coaches, past and present, around the NFL, and players, as well. We were able to identify some great candidates, but it struck me that the name that constantly came up with just about everybody that we talked to was Pat Shurmur,” Giants principal owner John Mara said before inviting Shurmur to the podium.
“He’s had prior experience as a head coach. He’s worked under some great coaches. He has an impressive record in developing young players, particularly quarterbacks, and he’s got an excellent track record as a play caller. And he’s very well‑respected by the players that he’s coached in the past.”
With Shurmur’s name cemented into the head coach slot, what do Giants fans have to look forward to as his tenure begins?
Shurmur and Dave Gettleman are on the same page when it comes to the offensive line
General manager Dave Gettleman was not present for the press conference Friday, as he was at hte Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. However, Gettleman was there in spirit through the words of Shurmur.
The new head coach echoed Gettleman’s sentiments from the latter’s public introduction, declaring that if the Giants are even thinking about recovering from their disastrous 3-13 season, the offensive line must change.
In fact, Shurmur remarked that when Gettleman mentioned in his interview that “everything starts with the offensive line”, the Dearborn, Michigan native knew that New York was the place for him.
“I know that about Dave,” Shurmur said. “I know we have a serious mindset when it comes to doing what we can to upgrade in those areas.”
Fresh off a 13-3 season in Minnesota, the Vikings’ highest win total since 1998, Shurmur credited change to the offensive line behind the team’s turnaround.
“We didn’t change the oil (in Minnesota), we changed the transmission,” Shurmur explained. “We went and got two free agent offensive linemen (tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers), we drafted a center that played like a veteran (Pat Eflein), and we transformed the offensive line that helped us do the things that helped us win 14 games.
“And so I think it’s very important, no matter how good your offensive line is and your defensive line, you have to address those issues constantly because if you can’t block them and you can’t pressure the quarterback, this game gets really, really, really hard.”
Shurmur’s comments reflect what Gettleman said about his “hog mollies” back on December 29.
“We’ve got to fix the o-line, let’s be honest. Let’s not kid each other,” Gettlemand said. “Big men allow you to compete and that’s what we’ve got to fix.”
This should no doubt please Giants fans who were miffed about the lack of offensive line adjustments last offseason. While the Giants spent big bucks on receiver Brandon Marshall, as well as a new contract for defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, they made minimal changes to the offensive line, often regarded as their weakest link.
Mara acknowledged the instant synergy between coach and general manager.
“It became apparent to us very early on that Pat and Dave share a similar philosophy in how to build a team,” Mara said, “That was no small factor in this decision.”
Eli Manning Is Still the Starter, But Shurmur is a Davis Webb Fan
Rumors of the Eli Manning era’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, it would appear.
Again mirroring Gettleman, Shurmur indicated that Manning will remain the Giants’ man under center. He worked with the long-time Giants signal-caller at the Manning Passing Academy this past summer, and confirmed he shared a phone call with Manning shortly after his hiring.
“I think the relationship is going to be very strong. I’ve watched him, competed against him, admired how he’s played over the years,” Shurmur said. “I’ve already spoken to him on the phone and he’s an outstanding football player, and I can’t wait to get to work with him. I’ve admired the way he’s handled things. I sort of like a calm approach to the position. (I’m) looking forward to getting to work with him.”
Shurmur has made a living bringing out the best in his quarterbacks. This past season, Case Keenum posted the best numbers of his career in Minnesota, helping the Vikings recover from the loss of franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. In separate tenures with the Eagles, Donovan McNabb and Nick Foles posted the strongest numbers of their careers, while youngsters Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy got off on the right NFL foot under Shurmur in St. Louis and Cleveland respectively (as a head a coach with the latter).
That’s what makes a Shurmur-Davis Webb union so intriguing.
“We went through the process on Davis Webb, and we thought he was an outstanding player,” Shurmur said. “We liked how competitive he was. He’s got size. He’s got good arm strength. We felt like he was a guy worthy of being drafted and having a chance to be a starter someday.”
Of course, the possibility also remains that the Giants could use their abnormally high first round draft on one of the polarizing quarterback prospects in the upcoming selection proceedings.
“I’m not ducking that question,” Shurmur said when asked about the second overall pick. “I think that we’ve got to travel down that road of evaluation to see what happens there.”
Shurmur Made It Clear There’s No Quick Fix to 3-13, But Sees Hope in the Current Roster
In other words, Giants fans, curb your enthusiasm.
If last season proved anything, it’s that the Giants are not one very high draft pick away from becoming instant contenders again. Shurmur isn’t looking for an instantaneous flash in the pan fix, much like the 2016 season was revealed to be. Instead, he wants to build a sustainable, consistent future.
“You know, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. So we’re going to do that,” he said. “And I think what’s important is we just every day work toward where we need to be. Then it won’t be a three‑pointer at the buzzer. Then we will have established a team that can sustain that over time.”
Shurmur understands the fanbase’s frustration. Even with no connection to the disaster, his displeasure at the brutal mark was apparent on Friday.
“I get furious. I get quick turnaround. I do know that what’s important is we get better every day. With regard to players, if each player swaps, so to speak, makes us incrementally better, that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Shurmur feels those that bore the burden of this dreadful year may be able to help the Giants rise from
“There are a lot of very talented players on this team. I think every team has that,” he said. “A year ago in Minnesota we had a lot of injuries, and again, they didn’t become part of the daily conversation, but we found our way to be 8‑8, dealing with a lot of adversity. This year we won 14, and we made some changes, although they may not have seemed to be big changes, that can do that.”
Odell Peckham Jr. (and the Rest of His Teammates) Has A “Clean Slate”
Inevitable, Shurmur was going to be asked about polarizing receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Shurmur, who endured the height of the Terrell Owens circus in Philadelphia, began by praising Beckham’s on-field accomplishments, mentioning that the Eagles had Beckham on their draft board back in 2014.
“He’s a tremendous player. I went through the evaluation process at the time I was in Philadelphia and he was high on our draft board,” Shurmur said, creating nightmare visions in the minds of Giants fans everywhere. “It makes sense to throw him the football. I’m just going to say that right away. If I didn’t acknowledge that, then you’ve definitely got the wrong guy up here.”
Only then did Shurmur address the past histrionics the receiver has exhibited.
“I think what needs to happen now is I need to get to know him. I need to get to know what makes him tick, and I need to talk to him about what it is that we’re looking for for a guy that plays for the New York Giants,” he said. “I think those are the things that go back to relationship building that need to happen very, very soon.”