New York Giants
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New Giants coach Shurmur an 'adult'
After a 3-13 season that saw the New York Giants' locker room erode into a cesspool of infighting, dejected attitudes and uncertainties, the team is turning to Pat Shurmur to help clean out the toxins and restore a sense of pride and direction in the locker room.
"I really believe the head coach job for the New York Football Giants is a job for an adult, and Pat is every bit of that," new general manager Dave Gettleman told reporters. "I'm just real excited. We've had some great conversations, and he's got a great sense of humor and I'm just excited about where we're going."
Shurmur's maturity, professionalism, quiet confidence and directions were just several of the characteristics that helped win over the endorsement of Gettleman as well as the confidence of team co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch during the team's interview process that spanned six candidates and a little over two weeks.
"It's such a tough job, especially coming off a season that we came off of with all the issues in the locker room and everything else," Mara said. "You need someone who is a quote adult unquote. Someone who is a professional and has a certain demeanor to walk in there and start to straighten things out. I think he has all those qualities, but time will tell."
Shurmur replaces Ben McAdoo, who was fired 12 games into his second season. Gettleman was brought in as general manager prior to the regular-season finale, replacing Jerry Reese.
"Pat is very adult and he is very mature and he has the experience," said Tisch. "Personally, I appreciate the confidence and the passion and the commitment to the team, to the players he is going to be working with, to the coaches he's going to bring in and the coaches he uses in the building.
"I think the fans, who are tough in this market, are going to really respond to Pat's focus and passion to turn this team around, and I think the proof is going to be in the pudding, and I'm very, very confident that we got the right guy and I'm very, very happy and optimistic."
Shurmur said one of his first priorities will be to meet with the players the Giants are eligible to begin their offseason program April 2 to lay down the expectations and then help the players to succeed in fulfilling them.
"We used to have to say in Philadelphia and Minnesota that it's not the plays, it's the players," Shurmur said. "I think what's important is we're going to establish the right way to do things. We're going to establish what we want as the New York Giants football team and we're going to inspire the players to see it our way.
"There are reasons why the Giants slipped to 3-13. We're going to find out if some of those reasons were behind the scenes and get them fixed. When it comes to coaching and playing, you work together. I think it's important to establish at the very beginning the way we're going to do things and keep talking about why it's important so they believe it as well."
One of the important players is wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
"I've watched him play and compete and when you throw all the other stuff out and you watch him on the field, he's outstanding," Shurmur said. "So it makes sense to throw him the ball, I'm just going to say that right away. If I didn't acknowledge that, then you'd definitely got the wrong guy up here.
"What I think needs to happen now is I need to get to know him. I need to get to know what makes him tick and I need to talk to him about what it is that we're looking for (from) a guy who plays for the New York Giants. I think those are the things that go back to relationship building that need to happen very, very soon."
Beckham had season-ending ankle surgery on Oct. 9. The three-time Pro Bowl selection was injured when he leaped to catch a pass and the landing saw his ankle get caught beneath Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward.
Beckham, who had 25 receptions for 302 yards and three touchdowns in 2017, is the only player in NFL history to catch at least 90 passes and accumulate at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first three campaigns.
Shurmur also made it clear that he plans to work with quarterback Eli Manning in the 2018 season.
"I watched Eli throw a little bit over the summer and I walked away saying he looked really, really good," Shurmur said. "He looked fit. He was throwing the ball well. The ball had good velocity coming off his hands. Again, I think he's got years left. How much? I don't know. But I think he has time left and I look forward to working with him.
"I think what's important is we have a guy here who has helped this organization win Super Bowls. He's an outstanding player and I'm really looking forward to working with him."
Shurmur, who spent the last two seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings, will be embarking on his second stint as a head coach. He was 9-23 as Cleveland's head coach in 2011-12 but was fired when new ownership took over.
Shurmur also won the final game of the 2015 season after Chip Kelly was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Shurmur takes over the Giants, who are fresh off a 3-13 season. He is New York's third coach since Tom Coughlin's 12-year tenure ended following the 2015 campaign.
Ben McAdoo won 11 games and reached the playoffs in his first season but was fired Dec. 4 one day after Manning saw his streak of 210 straight starts end. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo coached the final four games on an interim basis.
Shurmur described the culture he wants to build for the Giants after such a difficult season.
"We need to have a tough, gritty team that knows how to compete," Shurmur said. "I think what's important is when we put the roster together, we want to first accumulate 90 players that love to play football."
Shurmur has been an NFL coach for 19 seasons and his teams have reached the playoffs nine times and won seven division titles. He advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX following the 2004 season with the Eagles as the quarterbacks coach under Andy Reid.
Shurmur worked for Reid from 1999 to 2008. He spent his first three seasons as the tight ends and offensive line coach before being elevated to quarterbacks coach in 2002.
During his first stint with the Eagles, he helped Donovan McNabb become the most prolific passer in team history. In 2008, McNabb set a team record with 345 completions and 3,916 yards.
This season, the Vikings finished 10th in the league in scoring (23.9 points per game), 11th in total yards (356.9) and seventh in rushing yards (122.3). Minnesota also was third in the league in third-down conversion percentage at 43.5 (94-for-216).
The Giants were supposed to follow up their 11-5 record from 2016 with another and deeper playoff run. Instead, they proved to be a dysfunctional group of pretenders in what was one of the wildest and disappointing seasons in the franchise's history.
Internal strife, a struggling offense, poor special teams play, head-scratching personnel decisions, and the collapse of last year's top-five defense all contributed to the Giants crashing into a million pieces within the first five weeks of the season.
The final straw came in Week 13 when head coach Ben McAdoo presented a plan that resulted in the benching and ending of Eli Manning's streak of 210 consecutive games started.
After having it suggested by management to see what the team had with its other quarterbacks, McAdoo opted to make Geno Smith, a known entity from his days with the Jets, the starter and keep third-round draft pick Davis Webb, thought to be the future at the position, inactive. The following week, McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese made history when they became the first Giants head coach-general manager combo to be fired in mid-season.
"It was a tough, tough year," said Manning, who admitted he's never experienced a season quite like 2017. "Obviously, didn't win enough games, losing your head coach, lost a lot of guys to injury ... that's football sometimes. You go through tough years and you learn from it and hopefully it makes you appreciate it, work harder to hopefully not go through these types of years again."
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Tight end Evan Engram developed into everything the Giants hoped he'd be as both a receiver and as a blocker. The rookie stepped up after receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall went down for the season, and finished as the team leader in receiving, with 64 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Take your pick: 22 players on injured reserve, an offense that couldn't score 30 points, the embarrassing discipline issues that led to three suspended players (the same number as the team's wins this year) all qualify. The biggest problem is that former head coach Ben McAdoo seemed to undo all the discipline and structure that was left in place by Tom Coughlin, his predecessor.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: Cornerback Eli Apple has all the talent in the world, but a poor attitude that led to numerous discipline issues and ultimately his suspension as well as his alienating his teammates thanks to his half-baked work ethic have officially earned this 2015 first-round draft pick the bust label. Look for Apple, whose demeanor with the team and with the press has screamed of his disdain for being a Giant, to be moved in the offseason.
MOST SURPRISING PLAYER: Tight end Rhett Ellison's signing raised a few eyebrows given the money he received and the fact that the Giants seemed committed to going back to keeping a fullback on the roster, but the veteran was a steady presence in the passing game, hauling in new career highs in receptions (24), receiving yards (235) and touchdowns (two).
ASSISTANT COACH ON THE RISE: Tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride is one of the youngest assistant coaches on the Giants staff in terms of pro experience, having worked in the NFL since 2010 (and only with the Giants), but the work he's done with the tight ends group this season has been a bright spot on a roster that has otherwise basically underperformed. Evan Engram has developed into a keeper with his team-leading six touchdowns, while Rhett Ellison had his best season as a pro.
The Giants packed up their belongings and bid each other goodbye, not really knowing what the immediate future holds for the team that is coming off a disappointing 3-13 season and which is still very much in a state of flux.
Quarterback Eli Manning, who is the longest tenured player on the roster and who has seen it all since joining the team in 2004, even admitted that this coming offseason has a noticeably different vibe to it.
"Yeah, I guess there's more uncertainty this year than after others," he said, referencing the team's disappointing record, its in-season discipline issues that led to three players being suspended, his benching and the in-season firings of both general manager Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo.
"But it's always a disappointing day, that the season's over, (other than) the two years you win Super Bowls, where it's not. It's always tough that it's coming to an end and another year that didn't go as we wanted. You just try to learn from each game, each year, each situation and try to be better for it."
How the Giants will get better from a season that went horribly wrong is still to be determined as new general manager Dave Gettleman has a busy few weeks ahead of him that will include meeting with the current coaching staff to conduct player evaluations, getting a new head coach in place, mapping out free agency and getting a better idea of what they will do with the No. 2 overall draft pick this spring.
But the overall feeling on a bittersweet day for the Giants is that despite how bad things might have been on the outside, the franchise isn't that far off from being fixed and restored to the unit that won 11 games in 2016.
"Easily. Definitely," said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie when asked if it was possible for the team to get things turned around quickly in one offseason. "I know the guys that are in the locker room, the guys that were hurt, I know they are eager to get back and get started, and I can tell you that no man wants this taste in their mouth this whole offseason."
Still, it's hard to imagine Gettleman accepting the status quo. Certainly, some players will move on via free agency; the Giants' biggest pending free agents include offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, and linebacker Devon Kennard.
Then there is a decision to be made by Gettleman regarding the team's last two first-round draft picks, tackle Ereck Flowers and cornerback Eli Apple, both of whom have had their respective attitudes called into question.
"I don't know how much change there's going to be," Pugh said. "I know this is - despite our record - we got some really good players in this room. No matter what you're going to say, we're going to have an elite defense next year and those guys are unbelievable.
"On offense, we're going to be healthy and go back at it. Obviously, things are going to change. We know that. You've heard the GM talk. We'll see what happens with the coaching situation, but that's the NFL."