Friday morning the New York Giants officially introduced Pat Shurmur as their new head coach.
Shurmur was open an engaging, attempting to answer questions as freely as he could, at least when those answers didn’t involve “behind the scenes” Giants’ business.
But what immediately jumped out to me was that Shurmur wasn’t about himself and deflected praise to those who have been around him. Instead of speaking about what made him a great candidate for the job, he spoke about his wife (a Poughkeepsie native) as the source of his strength.
He next mentioned the staff that he and the Giants’ brass were working to assemble as he spoke at the podium. It would be that staff, according to Shurmur, who would get the Giants back to where they need to be.
As he said, Shurmur wouldn’t answer questions about business that is still in progress and hasn’t been made public yet, and that includes assembling most of the offensive staff. However, he did say that some candidates are not yet available, hinting at assistant coaches for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. He did say that he wants to put together a staff of “teachers”, and mentioned that there are good position coaches already in the building, echoing earlier statements by John Mara and Dave Gettleman.
Shurmur mentioned the role that coaches have is as educators. It’s important, he said, to teach and inspire players, and to constantly communicate with them. That is how, he said, they can find out what the players do best and put them in position to do it.
He also said that communication is absolutely vital among the staff they are still putting together. “I think when you put a staff together, there’s people upstairs, there’s constant communication. The reason we wear headsets is we’re talking to each other,” he said, adding, “but the way that we’re going to put the staff together, there’s constant communication and we’ll have experienced people in all the roles necessary.”
There might be a slight clue to Shurmur’s preferences in offensive staff to be found in his overview of his own offensive style. The foundation of his style is to constantly try to do the things that the players do well.
“I have a West Coast background,” he added, also saying that he learned about the strategic use of “tempo” from his time under Chip Kelly. As well he mentioned the importance of running the ball “like we did last year [in Minnesota]” as well as using screen passes to blunt a pass rush.
On the defensive side of the ball, Shurmur said that the Giants were “fortunate” to get new defensive coordinator James Bettcher. He added that he had known him for a “few years” and that he is a “rising star” in coaching circles, a coach who inspires players and has a “presence”. He then went on to praise Bettcher’s defenses, saying that they were very difficult to score on while still adept at generating pressure on the quarterback. The defense will be “multiple” Shurmur said, but didn’t place much importance on specific alignment (3-4, 4-3, or “five on the line” as Shurmur put it), instead stressing that the defense would be multiple but also fundamentally sound.
There was a lot to like about Shurmur’s introductory press conference. He covered a wide range of topics, and seemed to be as candid as possible. It remains to be seen if the rest of his tenure lives up to it, but considering football is the ultimate team game, having a head coach who is more about the team than himself is a good start.