New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur raised some eyebrows when he mentioned that part of his coaching has been reminding players to say ‘please’, ‘thank you’, to push in their chairs, and many of the other little hallmarks of professionalism. For the most part, people think of developing football players as matters of technique, schemes, or x’s and o’s. Shurmur wants to start with a foundation of paying attention to the all the little things in real life, carrying that in to their studying, and on to the field.
“I think what we’re reminding them is those are things that you know and they’re important,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s what matters. It’s not like a buffet table. If you’re going to be a professional, you can’t pick one of these, one of these and one of these and then skip all of these. I think it’s important that they function and live their life in a professional way, and I think if they do that, then they don’t have to worry about what they’re saying to the media, they don’t have to worry about things that come up in their life. They just live a good life, live a very productive life, and then it will translate to their performance on the field.”
Shurmur added that he certainly isn’t looking for players to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ on the field — the game is still physical and about one man imposing his will on another. However, he reiterated that doing the right things off the field will get his players into the habit of doing the right things all the time.
Speaking of his players, the one player everyone is interested in is second round pick Saquon Barkley. Unsurprisingly, the first question asked of Shurmur was what the coaches had learned about their first round pick.
“He’s got real good awareness,” Shurmur said. “The first thing you see is he can catch the ball, certainly. He had a couple runs yesterday that looked really good. Nobody was tackling, but the other thing that you see when you work with him is his awareness, his spatial awareness, his ability to pick out who he has in pass protection. We purposely tried to have some blitz drills early to try to challenge the running backs, and I felt like he did a good job with that.”
There isn’t much the coaches can tell about how a running back runs or blocks at this point in the build-up to the 2018 season. But if they can’t truly see the physical part of the game, they can see players’ decision making processes, and Shurmur has been impressed by Barkley’s.
For all the focus on Barkley, he wasn’t the Giants’ only exciting draft pick. This phase of the off-season process is an opportunity for the team’s first third round pick, Lorenzo Carter, to show off his own impressive athleticism.
“He’s very long, he’s very athletic,” Shurmur said. “He did a good job in the coverage drills, in the one-on-one stuff yesterday, and you can see he’s a bright guy. I watched these coaches yesterday give him some coaching points and he was able to use that in his next couple of reps. So certainly the arrow is up there.”
“Again,” he added, “like we talk about what an edge player should be able to do, he should be able to obviously set the edge in the run game. We expect him to be able to drop into coverage at times, and then certainly the element that he will bring to us also is his ability to pass rush, whether we play five on the line or we get into a four-man front.”
The Giants’ coach also believes that Carter can be a “three down” player for the Giants. Having another linebacker who would never be forced off the field by down, distance, or offensive personnel package is a much-needed change for the Giants’ defense.
Most of the players in attendance weren’t drafted 2018 draftees, but that the coach is taking notice of everyone. For instance, he was complimentary of Garrett Dickerson, who played slot-back, fullback, and tight end for Northwestern, and mentioned that his versatility is an advantage for a player in his position vying for a roster spot.
Of the Giants’ fourth round pick, quarterback Kyle Lauletta, Shurmur said he did a “really good job.” in his first practice. He also praised his intelligence, work ethic, and how well he takes coaching. Shurmur also added that Lauletta will be a tremendous addition to Eli Manning and Davis Webb in the quarterback meeting room, saying that, “You want really good players in there trying to get better each day and then helping one another get better, and I think seeing the way he functioned in day one, he’s going to really add to that room.”
Shurmur was also complimentary of undrafted free agent defensive backs Grant Haley and Aaron Davis.
It’s hard to tell, but I think they competed well,” Shurmur said. “There is going to be competition at all spots and certainly we’re going to depend on those younger players to really get in the mix and try to make the team. But they did a good job in their first day.”
Shurmur was also asked about some of the Giants’ veteran players, most notably Ereck Flowers.
News was made early in May when Landon Collins said on a radio show that Flowers was frustrated with the Giants over the signing of Nate Solder. Shurmur would have rather that Collins kept those thoughts to himself saying, “Yeah, that’s not for Landon to talk about. I think the important thing is, let’s let Ereck talk for Ereck when he gets here, and we’ll worry about that later. But really, I don’t think our players should be talking about another player’s situation.”
Flowers has been notable for his absence from the Giants’ facilities this spring, but Shurmur says that he and and Flowers have been in contact.
“Yeah,” Shurmur said, “we’ve been in contact with Ereck. It’s our understanding that he’s in good shape and, again, I got nothing. I can’t wait for him to be here. I’ve mentioned it in the past, there were some things that he did last year that were really good, and I look forward to him getting here at some point and working with him.”