Sunday, January 28, 2018

N.Y. Giants: Because Stone Cold Coach Pat Shurmur Said So

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE


New York Giants: Pat Shurmur named the 18th head coach in team history.

He becomes the team's seventh during my years as a fan.  But outside of what I've read, heard on radio, or seen on TV, I know little else about the man.

Therefore, I guess a quick bio is in order.

After spending 11 years at Michigan State and Stanford, Shurmur joined the NFL ranks in 1999 with the Philadelphia Eagles where he served as tight ends and offensive line coach through the 2001 season.  He then served as Philadelphia's quarterback coach - working with Donovan McNabb -  through the 2008 season.  During his decade long association with the Eagles, they made the playoffs seven times, appeared in five conference championships, and one Super Bowl.

Shurmur spent 2009 and 2010 as offensive coordinator of the (St. Louis) Rams under then head coach, and former Giants defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo.  In 2009, his starting quarterback was Marc Bulger (not a bad QB) who was playing out his final NFL season.  The Rams went 1-15 that year, but parleyed that into quarterback Sam Bradford, selected with the first overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft.  With Shurmur calling plays, Bradford threw for 3,512 yards as a rookie.

By season's end, the Cleveland Browns set their sights on Pat Shurmur, naming him their head coach entering the 2011 season.  Shurmur posted records of 4-12 and 5-11 during his two seasons at the helm.  But I won't hold that against him.  Since his departure after 2012, the Browns have exceeded five wins in a season just once.  In fact, the Browns are just 4-44 over the last three seasons.  Not even Bill Belichik could turn that organization around.  Since guiding them to the playoffs in 1994, the Browns have qualified for post-season play just one other time.

In 2003, Pat Shurmer returned for a second stint with the Eagles this time as offensive coordinator.  Prior to this year's run to the Super Bowl, Philadelphia last qualified for the playoffs in 2013 with Shurmur calling plays for Nick Foles.  In 2014, the Eagles posted a second straight 10-6 record but missed out on the playoffs.  A 6-9 record the following season resulted in head coach Chip Kelly's release after Week Sixteen.  Pat Shurmur would then coach the Eagles to victory in the season finale.

He has spent the last two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.  In 2016, he split time being tight ends coach and offensive coordinator, and again served as offensive coordinator this season.  Reunited with Pat Shurmur in 2016, Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford led the NFL with a 71.6 completion percentage.  This season, the oft injured Bradford was out of action again after Week Two.  Enter back-up Case Keenun - a veteran in his own right.  With Shurmur calling plays, Keenum threw 3,547 yards over 15 games, with 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

Of course, the Vikings fell well short in last week's NFC championship game against Nick Foles and the Eagles.  Shurmur's team was on the losing end of a 38-7 defeat.  One could ask what happened with the offense?  But Mike Zimmer is head coach of the Vikings, and therefore, he had to answer most of the questions and second-guessing.

But what about Pat Shurmur?

He entered that game with his fingerprints on both starting quarterbacks.  Case Keenum was 28/48 for 271 yards, one touchdown and one interception, in a losing effort.  Nick Foles, though, was better, throwing 26/33 for 352 yards, and three touchdowns.

So What Does All This Mean For The Giants?

There's something to be said for his twenty-years of practical experience.

Aside from his two year stint at Cleveland, his career work has primarily focused on the offensive side of the ball - no different than Ray Handley, Dan Reeves, Jim Fassel, Tom Coughlin, or Ben McAdoo.  As we see, the Giants have hired a string of offensive minded coaches ever since the departure of defensive minded Bill Parcells.  Four of them took the Giants to the playoffs, and two of them got the Giants to three more Super Bowls.

General manager Dave Gettleman says Shurmur will be working with Eli Manning for the remainder of his Giants career.  Then there's Davis Webb whom still needs extensive development.  And of course, there's continuing speculation as to whether the Giants will utilize their up-coming number one draft pick on another quarterback.

Where it concerns quarterbacks, Shurmur's resume suggests successful involvement with Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger, Sam Bradford, Nick Foles, and Case Keenum.  Moreover, while head coach in Cleveland, he somehow extracted 3,355 yards and 14 touchdowns out of rookie Brandon Weeden. It's worth noting because Brandon Weeden was out of the league within another three seasons.

But like Ben McAdoo, Shurmur is a proponent of west coast style offense.  I have my issues with that.  Shurmur also said he will be calling plays on offense.  I'm somewhat less concerned with that.

Shurmur did say that moving forward he understands Giants football which allows me to think he won't make the same mistake as McAdoo with regards to Eli Manning - which was trying to turn him into Aaron Rogers.  Dave Gettleman also said reconstructing the offensive line and reestablishing the run is a main priority.  I'm confident in Gettleman's vision, and so my west coast anxieties are tempered.

Pat Shurmur has otherwise contributed to highly competitive and successful situations in Philadelphia and Minnesota.

He also has no doubt faced adversity in St. Louis and Cleveland.

The Giants locker room was clearly fractured this past season.  Dave Gettleman wasted no time removing a few malcontents from the locker room.  And Shurmur's presser left little doubt he and Gettleman are on the same page where it concerns discipline.  Having participated in both winning locker rooms and losing locker rooms could turn out being a valuable experience from which Shurmur will draw upon during his upcoming seasons with the Giants.

The duo of Gettleman and Shurmur essentially means the days of enabling Odell Beckham Jr. are over.  Sure, Shurmur says he's getting a clean slate.  But without saying it, Odell already is being forced to clean up his act and grow up.  In other words, if Beckham wants premium money from the Giants, he'll need to compromise his so called personal brand.

Discipline, however, and disposition, can be slippery slopes.  Former NFL head coach Mike Holmgren recently chimed-in on Pat Shurmer, accusing him of having rabbit ears - meaning he pays too much attention to the media.  Said another way, he may be wound too tightly.  That can certainly become a problem in New York.  However, he nailed the presser - I mean nailed it.  He was direct, and succinct as one could be.  Shurmur left no doubt where he stands regarding a great many things.  In fact, he not only acknowledged his reputation for being too serious, he owned it - just like Tom Coughlin once did, and Bill Parcells did way back when.

Then again, those guys won Super Bowls.

Bill Belichick gets away with being a schmuck because he wins Super Bowls.

Pat Shumur said he couldn't help but notice the Giants four Vince Lombardi trophies on display in the lobby at MetLife Stadium.

The Giants have many holes to fill.  In fact, they may need a rebuild instead of just a retool.  So, let's be pragmatic about the situation.  Bill Parcells went 2-13-1 in his first season as head coach.  But despite being a schmuck, players rallied behind Parcells.  Ben McAdoo also went 3-13, but clearly didn't survive.  Ironically, he got fired in part due to his failed disciplinary policies and how that resulted in a fractured locker room.  McAdoo lost his players respect and they essentially threw him to the wolves.

Therefore, Pat Shurmur can be a schmuck all he wants.  He just needs the skill and tact for making players believe it comes from the heart.

Would the Giants have been better off with either Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia?

Who knows.  We'll find out over the next five years or so.

But for now, Pat Shurmur's press conference makes this the right choice.

Bill Belichick's minions historically do not fare very well once they venture out on their own.  Think about it - because of their success since 2000, Belichick has gone through countless coordinators on both sides of the ball.  Yet, the Patriots seemingly continue mission without a hitch.


Bill Belichick is brilliant at making in-game adjustments.  He's been the one constant in New England for 18 seasons.  He possesses a mastery of the game his coordinators simply can not bottle-up and take with them.  The man has a uniquely superior mind for either side of the ball.

Therefore, the Giants could very well be better off with Shurmur.  The question then, is how good will he be at making in-game adjustments?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Say what you feel. The worse comment you can make is the one you do not make.