Lost in all the furor over the Odell Beckham Jr. trade rumors, Dave Gettleman’s re-construction of the New York Giants roster, and anticipation of the 2018 NFL Draft is that we still don’t really know what Pat Shurmur will be like as the team’s new head coach.
Shurmur went 9-23 as head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and 2012 and was fired after an ownership change.
Mary Kay Cabot, veteran Browns reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com saw Shurmur’s tenure first-hand. During an appearance this week on the ‘Locked on Giants’ podcast, Cabot said Shurmur didn’t really get a full chance with the Browns.
“The thing that stands out to me about Pat Shurmur is that he just got caught up in an ownership change. When you have that kind of a transition you see the writing on the wall, people are going to bring in their own people and things are going to change,” Cabot said. “When Joe Banner came along and Jimmy Haslam purchased the team you just knew that change was afoot and that probably he wasn’t going to be long for the team.
“He didn’t get a chance there, just like most of the other coaches in Cleveland have not gotten a chance over the years.”
Shurmur himself has indicated that his time with the Browns helped him understand what it takes to be a head coach. Cabot expressed the same sentiment.
“I think Pat Shurmur will do a nice job there. I think he learned from a lot of his mistakes here. I think that one of the biggest things you learn as a head coach is just how much the media demands, what a large chunk of your job that is,” Cabot said.
“I’m sure that will be even more magnified in New York. He’s going to be in the microscope, in the fish bowl, and I actually think Cleveland was a pretty good training ground for him in that regard. This is not the New York media, it’s not necessarily the Philadelphia media or anything to that level, but it’s still a large media contingent. There’s still a lot of eyes on the Browns.”
Shurmur comes off as a somewhat quiet, laid-back coach who might not be the type to really challenge players. Cabot said thinking that about the Giants’ new head coach would be a mistake.
“He’s plenty tough. There’s no question about that. He comes off as somewhat quiet, but he’s not quiet. He’s a very strong personality. I don’t want to say that he’s got a temper, but he can get pretty hot, he can get pretty hot about things. We’ve seen it.”
Cabot pointed to an on-field incident between Shurmur and Browns cornerback Joe Haden. The coach removed the player from a training camp practice in 2012.
“You just know when he’s not happy about things once you get to know him. You guys will see that I would imagine pretty early on in the process,” Cabot said. “Once he gets his sea legs you will see that he’s a very strong-minded person and a take-charge person, and really probably not what you think he is.”
Calling the plays
Shurmur has already announced his intention to call the offensive plays. For Giants’ fans who watched Ben McAdoo struggle to effectively coach the entire team while hanging on to that duty the past couple of seasons, that decision causes some apprehension.
Cabot said that Shurmur should be able to do that, and that his experience with the Browns is part of the reason why. He functioned without an offensive coordinator as a rookie head coach, but hired Brad Childress for that job in his second season. In New York, he has already placed Mike Shula in that job.
“If you’re going to call the plays that’s fine but you still need an offensive coordinator who is going to help run the meetings and do a lot of the hands-on things that you can’t,” Cabot said. “You cannot devote 100 percent of the time to the offense when you’re the head coach, so you have to have a right-hand man that you absolutely 100 percent trust implicitly and someone who I think will collaborate on the play-calling with you. Someone who, if you need to step out of the meeting and you will need to, that he’s running the show and he’s in lock-step with you with how you do things and how you think about things.”