“You eat an elephant one bite at a time,” New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur modestly assured the fans when asked about turning around a franchise that inspired so much disappointment and fury last season. In his second stint as a head coach, he is certain he is ready to rise to meet all of the challenges that the Giants need to tackle.
The new coach wore a red and blue patterned tie to meet the press on Friday morning. On camera, it may have had a purplish glow, resembling his former franchise, but its wearer projected total readiness to bleed the blue.
Pat Shurmur Met the Press and Many of the New York Giants Fanbase’s Expectations
The hiring of Shurmur was met with mixed emotions from long-time Giants fans. His primarily West Coast offensive background has its benefits, as a slower offense at the line of scrimmage has often proven successful in giving his quarterbacks more time to dissect the defense. But his Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks showed little to no improvement through the course of his time there, despite being followed by two very reputable years with the Minnesota Vikings. There is a fear regarding Shurmur’s personality, too, as the Giants had notable locker room issues in 2017, and need a coach who is willing to come in and inspire confidence and sportsmanship.
Shurmur exhibited his mild-mannered sense of humor when putting forth his well-calculated plans Friday morning. The character that many once deemed too easygoing for this out-of-shape team came off stronger than anticipated. His demeanor was relaxed, but not unenthusiastic. He was confident and unintimidated, shutting down those who feared he was too temperate for the personalities within Big Blue.
“You’re going to try to all figure out who I am. Some would say I’m a little serious. Alright, I get that,” Shurmur admitted. “But I do think this is a serious business. It’s played and coached by adults. We just happen to do it with a young person’s enthusiasm, and I think that’s important.”
In the question and answer period of the conference, it became clear that Shurmur is aware of the efforts that will be required of him in the locker room. Because John Mara and Steve Tisch wasted no time in hiring Shurmur once the Vikings were out of playoffs, he has plenty of time to build a staff before free agency and the 2018 draft. That, he said, is his first priority. After that comes what he referred to as the “player evaluation phase,” and then the “player acquisition phase,” where his carefully curated team will pull together a roster of players who have the chemistry and passion the team needs to win games.
Passion seems to be the key factor for Shurmur, and he intends to whittle down to a 53-man roster from a group of 90 players who, like him, don’t know what they would do without football. When asked about the behavior of his players, specifically the antics of star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., he answered by explaining his intention to converse. He expressed his admiration of the player, and then his desire to unlock him. “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.”
Furthering the discussion of the roster, he openly welcomed questions about Eli Manning, who he believes still has quite a few years of playtime ahead. Shurmur’s son Kyle, who is the starting quarterback at Vanderbilt, was a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy last year, and the coach has spent time with the Giants quarterback there. “The relationship is going to be very strong ( . . . ) I sort of like a calm approach to the position,” he explained, further alluding to his support of slower offensive play calling. As for Davis Webb—who had very little opportunity in his rookie year to show his stuff—Shurmur is looking forward to getting to know him since there is little tape that exhibits his abilities. He spoke very little about his intentions regarding the draft and free agency negotiations, but we can assume that the coach plans to closely examine the current merchandise before making any rash trades or releases.
We also learned of his intention to call plays. The discussions of the vacant offensive coordinator position are still “behind the scenes” information. If Shurmur is to take on the role himself, he will join Bill O’Brien of the Houston Texans and Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers in the club of head coaches who also perform the offensive coordinator’s duties—a position he already has a wealth of experience in. He spoke highly of James Bettcher, current defensive coordinator, whom he says he has known for a while, and believes is a “rising star in the profession.” Similarly to what we could gather from his quarterback impulses, we can expect Shurmur to vet the in-house officers carefully and thoroughly before wiping the slate clean and building a coaching squad from scratch.
In the middle of an NFC conference that was hell-bent on making this week about the Eagles, Shurmur stirred the pot, returning from Senior Bowl week ready to show Giants fans as well as the press that he is ready to repair the fractured name of our noble organization. He knows his strengths, and which of his experiences he has been hired to bring to the table. In John Mara’s introduction on Friday morning, he stressed that the search for the new head coach had nothing to do with finding an offensive mind or a defensive one. It is inarguable, however, that Shurmur’s expertise was a deciding factor in what won him the job. And that is one thing that the new head coach will resurrect for the Giants. “We wanna play good offense. We wanna play New York Giants offense,” Shurmur confidently articulated. And hopefully, we will.