Pat Shurmur’s Coaching Is Finally Paying Off With the New York Giants

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Pat Shurmur
LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 09: New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur stands on the sidelines during the game against the Washington Redskins on December 9, 2018, at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In an embarrassing home loss for the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon, the New York Giants put on a performance that contributes to the mending of what started as a tumultuous season. Saquon Barkley continued to rewrite the record books. The offensive line finally found their groove. Backup quarterback Kyle Lauletta even got to see some playtime. There is one force behind all of these small victories that contributed to the 40-16 demolition, and that is head coach Pat Shurmur.

Good Coaching by Pat Shurmur Proved the New York Giants Have Not Wasted their Season

No Odell, No Problem

There was some concern after a last-minute announcement on Friday that superstar Odell Beckham Jr. would not be making the trip to meet Washington. Despite some questionable work in the past several weeks, it’s no secret that the Giants’ offensive playbook is largely built around his skill set.

Still, the G-Men were able to re-write the game as The Saquon Barkley Show. The lightning-blue flame has proven he can duel as both a running back and a wide receiver. Barkley played both roles on Sunday, and Washington had no answer.

Without Odell, weapons were also made of the rest of the receiving corps, including Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Russell Shepard, Corey Coleman, and Bennie Fowler, who recorded his first touchdown as a Giant.

Each of the Shepard boys also recorded a score to contribute to the blowout. Engram proved himself a necessity with his 77 yards over the course of only three receptions. Shurmur clearly worked with Eli Manning to find the best way to play around Beckham’s absence.

A Protected Veteran

The first half of the season was notably frustrating for Big Blue due to the constant shuffle within the five guys assigned to protect their veteran and immobile starting quarterback. Even in his youth, Manning has never been considered a threat with his legs. It’s understandable that he’s reluctant to run, even if just for a few yards. The offensive line has worked and reworked itself numerous times this season, starting three different men at center. Still, it seems in these past few weeks that the gang has finally come into their own after coach Shurmur finally found the perfect match for each role.

Against Washington, we saw Manning more protected, and therefore more effective, than every week prior. After putting up 40 points in the first two-and-a-half quarters, Shurmur felt confident in pulling Manning out of the huddle and replacing him with recently-promoted back-up Lauletta, the rookie who hasn’t taken a snap since his effective performances in preseason.

And what did we learn from that move? Absolutely nothing, other than that Shurmur is already thinking about the future and trying to provide an opportunity for the young Lauletta to prove himself worthy of a Giants uniform. None of his five attempts were completed, and he recorded a pick. But hey, it’s his first day on the job since the preseason. Shurmur has been admittedly deflective of questions surrounding the young-blood, but it was a strong coaching move to give him his fair shot behind a competent-looking line.

Mark Sanchez Sucks

The last time Josh Johnson played, I was in high school. It was a WHILE ago. He came into this game to relieve Mark Sanchez of his tenure as Washington’s third-best option (Alex Smith being injured with the possibility of never playing football again, and Colt McCoy also out). Johnson was only able to make up for a small fraction of the 40 points Sanchez let go, and still couldn’t outmatch the Giants’ defense and their three-interception high caliber pass-blocking. While James Bettcher makes the calls and Washington’s offense is outright putrid, Shurmer deserves credit for the success. The head coach’s 3-4 scheme has worked out extremely well for the team in conjunction with the weapons they have in Michael Thomas, Alec Ogletree, Janoris Jenkins, Lorenzo Carter, and Olivier Vernon.

Last Word on Shurmur’s Good Giants

With four wins in the last five games, the Giants still stand in last place in the NFC East but are only behind the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington by one game. If this continues, there is still a small mathematic possibility that the team could contend for the Wild Card. While it seems many NFL teams have already cut their losses for the year in the hopes of a high draft pick or two, the Giants and Shurmur have proven that they plan to keep fighting, and fighting fair. When asked what he thought contributed to the victory, Shurmur responded simply: “I think the locker room, I think the guys are listening. Teams beat teams.”

And to see a team come together like the Giants did this week, this late in the season, and without one of their star playmakers is a good thing for the franchise and the fanbase alike. In this most recent game, we saw potential from other key players on the squad who don’t usually get their time in the sun. There was much to be learned from these performances—lessons which we will hopefully see in practice this coming week as Big Blue prepares to face the Tennessee Titans. They’ve done themselves right so far, finishing this game without a single penalty on offense.

And as for Beckham? Perhaps he’s not as necessary to the G-Men as we thought. The prima donna of the team’s offense is one of the most explosive and dangerous players in the game. However, after a holdout that resulted in a massive raise, he has yet to really prove he’s worth the paycheck. To that I advise…we shouldn’t sleep on the diva just yet. After all, it’s thanks to his absence today that we found ourselves equipped with such a broad variety of talent, and this in itself will likely take less weight off the highly-pressurized playmaker.

Main photo:

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