Pat Shurmur is not Ben McAdoo. The 2018 New York Giants are not the 2017 New York Giants.
With an 0-2 start there is panic in the fan base that the Giants will be awful again and accusations by many in the media that it’s already obvious the Giants have chosen the wrong path by building around Eli Manning rather than drafting a quarterback and preparing for a future without him.
Truth is, they might be. And they may have. It is, however, too early to tell.
Even many of the questions Shurmur gets from the media are tinged with the memories of the miserable experience of the 3-13 season of a year ago.
Shurmur said early in his press conference Wednesday that “I think it’s hard to evaluate a team and a season after two weeks. I really do.”
The question Shurmur had been asked was about Sunday’s opponent, the 0-2 Houston Texans. His answer, though, was as much about his own team as it was about Houston.
The coach is aware of the unrest. He hears the questions that reference last season. On Wednesday, he seemed a little weary of them.
“See, that’s why I’m answering the questions with fresh eyes. I don’t remember what was here a year ago,” he said. “I’ve got compassion for the questions and what the experience is, I get that, but we are moving forward with the idea that we’re going to do what we can to get ourselves right. I’m not worried about that.”
Shurmur and these Giants need to be judged on their own merit, not as a continuation of the disaster that was 2017. There is a new general manager in Dave Gettleman. There are more than 30 players on the roster who weren’t Giants last season.
I have said often that there is no way the Giants could fix every problem that cropped up in 2017 in one offseason. They’ve tried, but they haven’t. They have, however, done a lot of positive things.
What they haven’t done yet is win a game, which is why a fan base and a ravenous media that remembers last year all too well keeps bringing it up.
These Giants, though, need to be judged on their own merit.
“We get evaluated all the time. I understand when you don’t win, this is what comes with it, I get it. When you do win, you’ve still got to turn your back on what people say and just keep moving. I get that,” Shurmur said on Wednesday. “We’re always evaluating everything, and when the game is over you give praise and assign blame, I get that. But I think what we have to do as a team is not let all that conversation polarize us. We just stay together and move forward. And typically the teams that do pull through in the end.”
The 2018 Giants won’t succeed or fail because of McAdoo. Because of Jerry Reese. Because of personnel decisions made by others. They will succeed or fail based on their own decisions, based on how well they do their own jobs.
The players remain supportive of their head coach despite the slow start.
“He’s a great head coach. He’s just super positive. Just telling us it’s about taking it one day at a time at practice, and getting better. That’s one thing we know. If we can just take care of the little things in practice, we can definitely make a big improvement on game days,” said Eli Apple. “He’s staying solid and telling us let’s go get it in practice, and be solid in practice.”
John Greco, taking over for Jon Halapio as the starting center, has known Shurmur since they were together with the St. Louis Rams in 2009. This is the third time he has been on a team with Shurmur.
Greco said Shurmur is handling 0-2 “the same way I think any other coach would.”
“Never too high never too low, just have to keep approaching each day like we have been and eventually if we keep putting in that effort and investing the time and energy into it the wins are going to come. Hopefully sooner than later, and that’s kind of our mindset we just have to do it. Every man has to look deep in themselves and find one thing to get better on each week and that’s going to help us.”
Shurmur has often said he feels like the Giants are on a good path. Quarterback Eli Manning indicated Wednesday that he believes his new coach has a grasp on the big picture.
“I think he understands the big situation and I think he looks forward to the challenge of where we are and that we are going to get better and we’re going to make improvements and things will come around, but it does come from everybody. Everybody’s feeling this out and getting used to each other, used to how things are going to kind of work out week-to-week and game planning and I think we’re all kind of figuring out the best way to approach each week.
As he and the Giants should be, Shurmur is trying to point the Giants forward. Whether he and the Giants succeed or fail, let’s let him do that.