The New York Giants have their next head coach in Pat Shurmur, who will waste no time in getting to work, starting with a whirlwind trip to Mobile where he and new general manager Dave Gettleman will scout prospects at the Senior Bowl.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg regarding what’s on Shurmur’s plate over the next few months.
Here is a look at some of the critical decisions—some obvious and some not so obvious—that Shurmur will have to check off his “to-do” list.
Finalize a Coaching Staff
There have already been some reports about potential assistants who are expected to be announced to Shurmur’s staff, such as Thomas McGaughey, who will reportedly be the new special teams coordinator and Jack Del Rio, who will reportedly be the new defensive coordinator.
So far, though, there haven’t been any leaks or rumors linking any potential offensive assistants. Although all Shurmur’s staff is important, considering how broken the Giants offense was the last two years, all eyes will be on his offensive assistant coach choices.
It will be interesting to see whom Shurmur brings on board at offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach—Brian Callahan, formerly of Detroit—is ow on the market–and offensive line coach just to name three key areas that underperformed in 2017.
Create a Strong Team Identity…and Make It Stick
Ben McAdoo had “Sound, smart and tough, committed to discipline and poise” as his desired team identity, but had trouble making it stick.
What identity will Shurmur install when the players reconvene on or shortly thereafter April 2, the first day the NFL calendar allows teams with a new head coach to begin its offseason conditioning program?
Whatever identity Shurmur envisions, here’s hoping he has better success in implementing it and making it stick right out of the gate.
Repair Any Locker Room Fractures
When we last left the Giants locker room, cornerback Eli Apple was about as popular as the flu among his teammates, particularly safety Landon Collins, with whom he engaged in a very ugly “he-said, he-said” battle that led to Collins calling Apple a “cancer.”
There were also reports about two young offensive linemen, Bobby Hart and Ereck Flowers, “checking out” early, which if true, certainly wouldn’t be appreciated by those players who busted their humps to the end to play with some semblance of pride.
Hart was eventually cut while everyone from Flowers to former interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo claimed that the left tackle’s year-end benching was due to a groin strain that apparently was more debilitating than the high-ankle sprain he gutted out as a rookie.
And who could forget the “locker room rats” who, for whatever reason decided to air the team’s dirty laundry to ESPN creating yet another full-blown scandal that dominated the headlines for several weeks?
Whether Shurmur gathers the players together for a nightly round of Kumbaya after a long say at training camp or take the Tom Coughlin approach which used to feature bowling nights and field trips such as to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, here’s hoping Shurmur has a few tricks up his sleeve to restore harmony in a locker room that lost its way a bit last year.
Fix the Offense
Duh, right? But this might be easier said than done.
For starters, Shurmur will likely tear up the previous playbook that seemed so reliant on 11-personnel and the short passing game and will instead look to get to a system that stresses a balanced offense and that better utilizes the players strengths.
With that challenge will come the challenge of making over an offensive line that was the very definition of inconsistency in 2016 and 2017. The Giants could have as many as two new faces on the line with returning starters not guaranteed to reclaim the spots they held in 2017.
Getting that unit fixed—and adding quality depth—is imperative if Shurmur hopes to cure Eli Manning of his skittishness while also creating a safe place for a young quarterback to acquire quality snaps when the opportunity is there.
Find His Locker Room Leaders
Did anyone else notice how the last two years very few players seemed willing to step up and be leaders on the team? The line we often heard was “I lead by example.”
While that’s not necessarily a bad way to lead, it’s also a passive approach that doesn’t work when you have dozens of guys interpreting what “by example” means while dozens more seem more engrossed in their own way of doing things.
That’s not to say the Giants need a bunch of cheerleaders in their locker room, but it sure would help if they had a vocal guy or two willing to say what needs to be said, much like Antonio Pierce and Antrel Rolle—two guys who also led by example—used to do.
Think about the great Giants teams of the past—Bill Parcells had guys like George Martin Harry Carson, Carl Banks and Jim Burt as his locker room lieutenants and Tom Coughlin had his leadership council in 2007. Shurmur needs to find guys who can stand up and not only hold themselves accountable but be willing to hold others accountable.