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Pat’s Perspectives: Change has been good for the Giants

How Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur have begun repairing the Giants

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New York Giants Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

I owe a big thanks to Sheryl Crow, who gave me the idea for this column.

Crow, for those not into the music scene is a multi-Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter whose hits include ”All I Wanna Do,” “If It Makes You Happy,” and “My Favorite Mistake.”

It’s actually one of her lesser known tunes, “A Change Would Do You Good,” that happened to pop up on my iTunes playlist just before I sat down to write this column that got me thinking about the last several months and how the philosophies have changed in East Rutherford for the good.

Dave Gettleman brings old school back

When the Giants hired Dave Gettleman as their general manager, the common sentiment on my Twitter timeline was that the Giants had screwed up again, that they hired someone with ties to the organization who would probably continue in the thinking of the previous regime and further doom a team that was already lying in the sewer following a 3-13 season.

Well, those naysayers were half right. Gettleman did come in with a roster building philosophy that he no doubt learned during his front-office tenure with the Giants under former general manager Ernie Accorsi.

But so far, that philosophy has rejuvenated the team and its fan base.

The philosophy quite simply is to build a roster from the inside out. Gettleman spoke about three core principles — running the ball, stopping the run and rushing the passer — that somehow faded into the background under the previous management regime, who built the roster from the outside in and who seemingly aspired to turn this northeast football team into the second coming of the Greatest Show on Turf.

Sorry, but it was never going to come to fruition. The very foundation of the Giants success over the years has been in their ability to pound the rock and achieve balance between the run game and the passing game, a concept that slipped away when the prior regime continued to focus on adding receivers and tight ends yet seemingly took short cuts when it came to getting running backs and offensive linemen.

Enter Gettleman. The first thing he, along with head coach Pat Shurmur, did, was decide after film study that long-time veteran quarterback Eli Manning still has a few years left in his aging right arm.

At the same time, Gettleman and Shurmur no doubt looked at Manning’s stats from the past and realized that it is not in the team’s best interest to ask a quarterback who’s pushing 40 to average more than 600 pass attempts per season.

While the team in general is not yet a finished product, it’s probably safe to say that their biggest areas of weakness last year — the running game, the run blocking, the pass defense and the pass rush — are all on a path toward becoming strengths if everyone stays healthy.

Pat Shurmur is different … and that’s good

Pat Shurmur is one of the most boring head coaches to walk the Giants sidelines in years.

In case you’re wondering, that’s a compliment and a good thing.

There have been no confrontations with the media and no airing of dirty laundry. Shurmur has politely declined to engage in minutiae detail like when Odell Beckham Jr. will get on the field or conversations he has with his players when they hit speed bumps along the way.

He’s also somehow managed to refrain from blasting players who screw up in practice into the next county because he believes that as a teacher, screaming and yelling would be counterproductive to achieving the desired result.

Perhaps the biggest change Shurmur, who thus far has proven himself to be a strong communicator and relationship builder with his players, is that he isn’t afraid to take a different perspective on things that go against the grain.

Take for example his philosophy regarding the upcoming third preseason game, a game that’s typically viewed around the league as the final dress rehearsal prior to the regular season.

That goes in that category for me of halftime adjustments,” he said. “I think what’s important is about this game is whoever is in the game is in there to put good football on tape and help us win the game. As I’ve mentioned all along, we are going to do our very best to find out who our initial 53 guys are.”

He’s right if you think about it because realistically speaking, how many teams can say that they have all their players in place by the third preseason game to have a true “final dress rehearsal”?

Certainly not the Giants, who are still trying to resolve questions such as the identity of their starting free safety, and their depth at cornerback, receiver and offensive tackle, just to name a few.

“I think people say that because typically in the fourth preseason game, a lot of your starters don’t play. I think it’s better said that this might be, for some guys, the last real good opportunity to get game experience before the first game. I think that’s the way I like to look at it,” Shurmur said.

That’s not a bad way to look at things if you’re rooted in the real world and know that your roster has room to improve.

So what does it all mean?

When the dust settles, all that will matter is what the Giants season-ending record looks like. Certainly, some skeptics will point to the “changes” the previous regime put in place that got the franchise back on track in 2016 only to see if flop a year later.

The difference is that the foundation of the 2017 season was built mostly on sand rather than concrete. The 2017 team believed its press clippings and, in retrospect, maybe took the praise they received from national analysts a little too close to heart.

On the flip side, Shurmur has come in and tried to counter any lingering concerns that the Giants are still very much the same 3-13 team from a year ago. He has done that by guiding the team to gradually take a small bite out of the pie each day to savor it rather than to gulp it all down in one sitting and get fat off it.

No one knows at this point how successful the Giants will be in 2018, but one thing is for certain: Gettleman and Shurmur have done everything possible to make sure this team has the best possible chance of achieving success.