When the New York Giants hired Pat Shurmur to replace Ben McAdoo, Dave Gettleman praised him as “an adult.” Shurmur was hired as an experienced head coach to help right the ship after it took on too much water over the course of the 2017 season.
Shurmur was also hired for his offensive prowess following a strong tenure as the Minnesota Vikings’ offensive coordinator, while the Giants’ offense was one of the worst in the league despite all its talent.
But how does the Giants’ head coach stack up against the League’s 31 other coaches. NFL.com analyst Elliot Harrison ranked every team’s coach — starting with Bill Belichick — and he wasn’t exactly brimming with praise for Shurmur.
26) Pat Shurmur, New York Giants
Shurmur led the Giants to a 5-11 record and last-place finish in the NFC East in his first year on the job, and the Giants’ offense faltered more often than not. That was an area Shurmur was supposed to shore up. Even the ridiculous all-purpose production of first-year phenom Saquon Barkley couldn’t solve Big Blue’s woes, so much so that the rush offense finished 24th in the league. This, with a running back who racked up over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Were the Giants awful on offense? No. They were inconsistent, couldn’t survive health woes at receiver, and were far from strong enough to make up for a bottom-10 defensive unit. Shurmur has much work to do in 2019, from replacing Odell Beckham Jr., to successfully managing the Eli Manning/Daniel Jones situation, to trying to stay feisty in the NFC East. The reason he’s behind Gase on this list? Gase has led a team to the playoffs, and Shurmur has yet to have success as a head coach.
*note: Doug Pederson is fifth, Jason Garrett is 17th, and Jay Gruden is 22nd.
Raptor’s Thoughts: There are a couple things we need to make clear here: First, this list is taking into account the totality of a coach’s career, not just the 2018 season.
Second, Pat Shurmur the man is nothing but a breath of fresh air following Ben McAdoo in 2017, when a floundering coach’s lack of leadership fractured the locker room and sunk a playoff caliber roster.
And third, Shurmur’s offense isn’t bad in and of itself. It is easily the most flexible and quarterback-friendly attack the Giants have fielded in recent memory.
But that doesn’t mean that his ranking here is necessarily unfair. Harrison is right to say that Shurmur hasn’t won anything as a head coach, and if we’re looking at their careers as a whole, that matters.
Also, while his ranking below coaches like Jay Gruden, Gase, McDermott, and Marrone could be argued, Shurmur does leave some things to be desired as a coach. The Giants did have the best offense in the NFC East in 2018, but that had more to do with incredible individual efforts by Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. (and to a lesser extent, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram), than down-to-down consistency or sublime coaching. The Giants’ offense varied wildly between being conservative and aggressive, and while they found some success playing aggressively, they would always retreat back into their shell the following week. The Giants were also remarkably hesitant to test poor secondaries, such as in the games against the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or Philadelphia Eagles.
The common refrain is that the offensive line doomed the offense, but that argument pales somewhat when we realize that the Houston Texans’ fielded a second-year QB coming off a torn ACL behind a far worse offensive line (giving up 15 more sacks on 77 fewer passing attempts), but had a more consistently good offense (ranking 11th).
There are ways to scheme around suspect protection — such as throwing out of RPOs, moving the pocket, or using play-action. However, the Giants only threw out of Run Pass Options six (6) times in 2018, and despite Manning out-playing guys like Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Patrick Mahomes outside of the pocket, the Giants seemed to forget about bootlegs and roll-outs for stretches of the season.
None of this is to say that Shurmur is a bad coach, or that the Giants are doomed. All it means is that, like the rest of the team, the Giants coach has some work to do if the team is going to be consistently competitive going forward.