After the storms, dysfunction, and disappointment of a 3-13 season that embarrassed a proud New York Giants franchise the first order of business is to restore some sense of order and professionalism.
Whether it was co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch or GM Dave Gettleman words like adult, professional and maturity were talked about in reference to why the Giants hired Pat Shurmur as head coach.
“It’s such a tough job, especially coming off of a season that we came off of with all the issues in the locker room and everything else,” Mara said on Friday. “You need someone who is a quote adult unquote. Someone who is a professional and has a certain demeanor to walk in there and start to straighten things out.
“I think he has all those qualities, but time will tell.”
Shurmur began to display those qualities on Friday. This was first impression time for the 18th head coach in franchise history, and Shurmur made a good one. He was comfortable, willing to provide information, hinted that he does have a stern side that will expect players to live up to his standards. His suit fit, too.
Shurmur deftly handled a snafu at the beginning of his introductory remarks as the auditorium lights briefly went out. “And we’re off,” he said to laughter.
“I was going to tell a joke, but I’ll stop.”
Thought by some to be a bland personality, Shurmur showed more of a sense of humor than might have been expected. He and his wife of 27 years, Jennifer, have four children. The Shurmurs’ son, Kyle, plays quarterback at Vanderbilt. They also have three daughters.
“Our daughters are here today, and they cry a lot,” he said. “And I’m crying because I’ve got three weddings on the horizon, and it won’t be in a K of C hall.”
Funny. The Giants, though, didn’t hire Shurmur to be a stand-up comic. They hired him to coach their football team, and to restore order to a team that spent most of last season in chaos.
“This is an iconic franchise, I understand most of the history. I want to be the coach and I understand the responsibility of being the coach,” Shurmur said. “You have hired a career coach. You have hired a guy who doesn’t know what he would do if he wasn’t doing this. You have hired a guy that wants every day to interact with the staff, the coaches, the players. I really do feel like my role is to make everybody as good as they can be.”
Here are a few more takeaways from Shurmur’s press conference.
The Giants were beset last season by disciplinary issues, a couple of instances of obvious lack of effort, and some strife between teammates. How, exactly, Shurmur will deal with all that is unknown. He did, however, have this to say:
“I have zero tolerance for people that don’t compete. I have zero tolerance for people that don’t give effort and I have zero tolerance for people that show a lack of respect.”
How will Shurmur gain control of the locker room?
“I think what’s important is we’re going to establish the right way to do things, we’re going to establish what we want as a New York Giants football team. What we’re going to do is we’re going to inspire the players to see it our way.”
Shurmur talked about relationship-building.
“I think what you do is you start by developing relationships with those guys that love to play football and you’re constantly talking to them about what it means to be a good pro,” he said.
Eli Manning will be the Giants’ man
One thing became obvious on Friday. In talking to Shumur, Tisch, Mara and Gettleman they have no doubt Eli Manning is the right quarterback for the Giants in 2018.
“He’s an outstanding football player and I can’t wait to get a chance to work with him,” Shurmur said. “I watched Eli throw a little bit this summer and I walked away saying he looked really, really good. He looked fit, he was throwing the ball well, the ball had good velocity coming off his hand.
“I think he’s got years left. How much? I don’t know, but I think he has time left.”
“I’ve watched Eli’s first eight years, nine years of his career and watching the games, going through them chronologically, I still saw a quarterback that knew what he was doing, had plenty of arm talent and can win games,” he said Friday via conference call.
Holding Odell Beckham Jr. accountable
When it comes to the superstar wide receiver, there is the obvious on-field talent. Over the years, though, Beckham’s ability to distract from his talent have been equally as obvious. Here is Shurmur on dealing with Beckham:
“He is a tremendous player. Throw all the other stuff out and you watch him on the field, he’s outstanding. So it makes sense to throw him the football.
“I think what needs to happen now is I need to get to know him. I need to get to know what makes him tick, and I need to talk to him about what it is that we’re looking for from a guy that plays for the New York Giants.
Hooray for “hog mollies”
Gettleman, of course, loves to call offensive linemen “hog mollies.” He has been upfront about the need to fix the Giants’ offensive line, and Shurmur said he was attracted to working with Gettleman “As soon as he said everything starts with the offensive line” during Shurmur’s interview for the head-coaching job.
Shurmur pointed to what the Minnesota Vikings did last offseason as an example of how a line can be rebuilt quickly.
“We didn’t change the oil, we changed the transmission,” Shurmur said.
The Vikings added two free-agent starters and drafted a third.
“We transformed the offensive line,” he said. “That helped us do the things that helped us win 14 games. I think it’s very important ... if you can’t block ‘m, and you can’t pressure the quarterback this game gets really, really, really hard.”
Gettleman, Shurmur on the same page
In recent years — dating back to the final seasons of the Tom Coughlin era — I haven’t always believed that the Giants had a general manager and coach who were on the same page. The fact that Shurmur and Gettleman agree on the importance of the offensive line is the first indication that the coach and GM are, at least at the start, working in concert.
“As I’ve said a number of times, the style of the game has evolved over the years. There are basic truths and basic facts that don’t change and you have to do. You have to run the ball, you have to stop the run, and you have to rush the passer. Pat and I completely agree on that,” Gettleman said. “The other thing is that big men allow you to compete. I’ve built teams from the inside out. Obviously the quarterback position is critical but I’m just dropping straight philosophy here and how you approach it. Those are the things that Pat and I completely agree on. The other thing that we completely agree on is the importance of culture and how football is the ultimate team sport. We have to put together a roster that is talented but who love the game of football and love to compete. There is a lot of boxes that he and I are on the same page.”