New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur on Saturday called B.S. on the idea that he needs to show his players more fight.
“I think that’s a B.S. narrative. I don’t understand where that comes from. I think the people that ask those questions really don’t know me or how teams function,” Shurmur told Michael Eisen of Giants.com. “I think what they’re asking – are they asking for a temper tantrum from the head coach to make it appear like they care? I think that’s B.S.”
The idea from Shurmur having been asked early in the week if, because of the calm exterior he shows the media and the public, he needs to make sure he shows enough “fight” to his players.
Here is what he said then:
“My team knows my true personality. For me to rant and rave, or say something that can be written and reported about, and me making it about me, I don’t think that makes you strong and I don’t think that makes anybody think that I care anymore than the players in the locker room. They know my true feelings, and that’s what I care about. We’ll take it from there,” Shurmur said.
The coach continued to reject that narrative Saturday when he spoke to the media.
“Because I think it’s a ridiculous question. I think you’ve been around me enough to know what’s important and things I don’t like, and I don’t understand what showing that for a less than genuine reason is the way to go,” he said. “The players know how I feel and when there’s a situation that comes up that I don’t feel good about, they know it. That’s why I think it’s a ridiculous question. Got it? And that’s outside noise, too.”
I’m also going to call B.S. on the idea that Shurmur doesn’t show enough fire.
Tom Coughlin used to do jumping jacks in front of the media. In cold weather, his nose would turn red on the sidelines. He used to blister officials and gesticulate wildly. If he was angry at a player or miffed by something that happened during a game, he showed it.
That didn’t make him a better coach. It just made him who he was.
The work that won him two Super Bowls and may eventually land him in the Hall of Fame was never done in front of the media. It was done behind the scenes, in the locker room, on the practice field, in the lunch room with players, grinding film and working with his coaches.
Shurmur isn’t as demonstrative as Coughlin. He isn’t as loud. He hasn’t gone down the Ben McAdoo road of blaming players and making the story about him. He just continues to work. Continues to believe in the process. Continues to believe the Giants are on the right path, and doing the work the right way.
There is some steel behind the calm, generally helpful demeanor he shows the media.
A little of it can be found in this remark:
“I’m well aware of competition and how this works. I played in the trenches, I was an overachiever. I get that, but I also know that as an adult sometimes, you don’t just do it and say whatever the heck you want. This is about team-building and trying to do this the right way, and along the way we’ve got to win more games and I am aware of that.”
Catch the “trying to do this the right way?” That’s a Shurmur staple. A right way and a wrong way. Building a team.
Some of that steel showed when Shurmur fined Odell Beckham Jr. for his ESPN remarks. Standing up to Beckham is something neither Coughlin nor McAdoo ever did.
The steel has shown in his resolve to build a better locker room culture. In his constant “just keep playing” refrain as things have gone south at the beginning of his Giants’ tenure. The back-biting, bickering and lack of discipline that plagued the Giants last season are gone.
It’s just that the victories haven’t come yet.
‘It’s a tough situation for everybody, but I think he’s [Shurmur] handled it well. Trying to stay calm. He’s leading this team, and pushing guys every day to get better – to stay the course and keep fighting. Everybody just make small improvements,” said quarterback Eli Manning.
“You see the passion, you know there’s passion and hard work. He’s not throwing chairs, he’s not screaming and yelling at everybody. He has his own way of motivating guys. I think he’s done a good job of just kind of handling the pulse of this team and keeping us together, and I think that’s the most important thing.”
I’m reminded that Joe Gibbs went 0-5 at the beginning of his tenure with Washington. That Bill Parcells almost got fired when he went 3-12-1 as a rookie coach for the Giants. That Jimmy Johnson went 1-15 his first year as coach of the Dallas Cowboys. That Bill Belichick got fired by the Cleveland Browns, like Shurmur, and went 5-11 his first season with the New England Patriots.
I don’t know if Shurmur will succeed or fail as Giants’ head coach. Whether he does or not will be decided by whether or not he and GM Dave Gettleman can find the right players, make sure those players buy into what the coach and GM are selling, and whether or not Shurmur and his coaches can put those players in positions to succeed more often than not.
It won’t have anything to do with how much fire he shows to the media during press conferences or how much he argues with officials during games.