Back in the old days when Pat Shurmur was only “expected” to become head coach of the New York Giants I put together a list of questions Shurmur needed to answer. Now that it is officially Shurmur Time for the Giants, let’s take a fresh look at that list.
What is the quarterback plan?
Giants’ media won’t get to speak to Shurmur until Friday, but we already know the short-term answer. Unless there is a dramatic and unexpected change of heart, Eli Manning will remain at quarterback for the Giants next season.
The question now really is what is the succession plan?
GM Dave Gettleman hasn’t had a whole lot of time to figure that out. He has only been on the job for a month. Shurmur has had no time at all. He has been on the job for one day, and he was kinda busy before that.
That is why the Giants were so keen on getting Shurmur’s name on a contract and, weather-permitting, getting him from Minneapolis to Mobile, Ala. on Tuesday to watch the next three days of Senior Bowl practices. Gettleman and Shurmur will begin the process of finding a successor in earnest, getting an up close and personal look at Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and the other quarterbacks in that game.
How will he fix the locker room?
The Giants’ locker room was, quite obviously, a dysfunctional mess in 2017. Disciplinary issues were abundant, and it was apparent that there were at least some who had no use for then-coach Ben McAdoo. Players went their own ways.
There are unique personalities in every NFL locker room. With more than 60 players around constantly, there are always going to be guys who don’t like each other. There are always going to be times when players don’t like a decision by or a request from a coach.
What matters is whether players can put those differences aside and work together and whether they have can respect their coaches enough to put their egos aside and do what they are asked without complaint for the greater good of the team.
Shurmur didn't have to deal with this type of locker room toxicity in Cleveland. Nor did he have to deal with such a large media contingent that, truthfully, can be agenda driven.
More than Xs and Os, how he navigates the personalities and whether or not he can command the respect of the locker room will be the litmus test of his tenure.
How will he fix the offense?
Shurmur has a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. Our Dan Pizzuta isn’t convinced that he is quite as good as he is cracked up to be as an offensive coordinator. Shurmur has a lot of work to do with a Giants’ offense that really hasn't threatened anyone in two years.
Shurmur will meet the New York media on Friday. It is unfair to expect him to have the answers at that time. He has yet to have the opportunity to really study the personnel, to figure out who can help, who can’t, and what the needs are. At first glance, though, with Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard and Eli Manning he is starting from a better place at the skill positions than he was in with the Vikings.
Who will the assistant coaches be?
We have started to get a glimmer of an answer here, and it does not appear that former defensive coordinator and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo will be part of the future.
There are reports also that Thomas McGaughey is going to be the special teams coordinator. I don’t anything about McGaughey other than his resume, which includes being a special teams assistant with the Giants from 2007-2010. At this point, anyone not named Tom Quinn seems like a good idea.
I am really interested to see what he does at offensive coordinator. Will he hire a veteran coordinator and turn the offense over to him, or hire a young, up-and-coming coach for that spot and run the offense himself?