The question of whether Pat Shumur, 5-17 as head coach of the New York Giants and 15-36 overall in two stints an NFL head coach, should be on the hot seat is one that comes up all the time.
My personal view on that has been that, no, the Giants coach should not be looked at as a guy coaching for his job on a week-to-week basis at this point in time.
My view has been that Shurmur cannot be fully judged without a full chance to work, in game action, with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Until this week, it looked like that full opportunity wasn’t going to come until the 2020 season. It looked like Jones, the sixth overall pick and the player upon whom Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman have staked the ultimate success or failure of their tenures with the Giants, was going to watch Eli Manning play until later — probably much later — this season.
Then, things changed.
Shurmur watched the Giants, with Manning not playing poorly but not excelling either, score only 31 points in two games. He watched Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills do things with their legs Manning has never been able to do and things with their arms it seems Manning can only do occasionally now. He watched the Giants lose twice, and not be truly competitive in either game.
He thought about Jones. He thought about what he saw from the spring through the preseason and his conviction that the youngster from Duke was ready to carry the franchise. He realized on Sunday night that he felt Jones, not Manning, now gave the New York Football Giants, their best opportunity to win football games.
Asked point blank is Jones was the better quarterback, here is what Shurmur said:
“Daniel Jones is ready to play and we’re going with him. Yes. The reason I say that is we do everything we can to win football games, and at this point we feel like he’s the guy we want to move forward with.”
Pat Shurmur on why now was the right time to make a quarterback change. pic.twitter.com/u9V0nCWzDl— Big Blue View (@bigblueview) September 18, 2019
With that, Shurmur didn’t necessarily set himself on the NFL coaching hot seat. He did, though, accelerate the timeline by which he, Gettleman and Jones will ultimately be judged.
For all intents and purposes, he will now get a full season to show what he can do with Jones.
Was the youngster’s preseason a mirage? Is he really “Danny Dimes?” Can Shurmur take Jones and the Giants’ offense and mold them this season into something the Giants and their fans should feel optimistic about going forward? Can Jones, over the next 14 games, give them a better chance to win football games than Manning would have?
“We’re trying to win a football game (Sunday vs. Tampa Bay),” Shurmur said. “We feel like along the way here Daniel Jones has shown us that when he gets his opportunity he’s going to play well.”
“To this point he’s checked off all the boxes in everything that we’ve asked him to do. We’ll get him ready to play, put a plan together than he can utilize and go to work.”
Shurmur said he didn’t buy the narrative that it was too early to make the move to Jones. Nor the idea that if a move to Jones this early was possible that Manning should have been let go in the offseason.
“My gut told me it was the right time, but that narrative that you don’t bring Eli back I think that’s just something for us all to talk about,” Shurmur said.
Ultimately, it is that work with Jones — and whether it eventually leads to consistently winning football games — that will determine Shurmur’s success or failure as head coach of the Giants.
“My gut said it was time to make that move,” Shurmur said. “When you draft a guy like we did at some point this was going to happen. I just felt like this was the time.”
Thus, in a way, the clock really starts now on Shurmur.
There are, unquestionably, more issues with the Giants than quarterback play. Manning couldn’t lift the Giants to victories the first two weeks, but he did not cause their defeats either.
The games have featured atrocious defense, with the Giants 30th in the league in points allowed and 28th in yards allowed. There have been eyebrow-raising personnel decisions. There has been some questionable play-calling and strategic decisions on offense, the area where Shurmur is the play caller.
There will, obviously, be some changes to what the Giants’ offense looks like with Jones at the helm rather than Manning. Earlier, we went through what some of those need to be for Jones and the Giants to be effective.
“It should look the same schematically,” Shurmur said. “I’ll let the changes in tactics reveal themselves, so to speak. We want to score more points.”
Score more points. Win more games. That’s what the Giants need to do. Sunday vs. Tampa Bay, we begin to find out if the Shurmur-Jones tandem can help them do that.