The Giants were willing to wait until the Vikings’ season was officially over to land their new head coach, Pat Shurmur. Now it’s official, and Shurmur will take over on a five-year deal to try to right the ship in New York.
Pat Shurmur’s work with the quarterbacks in Minnesota is a big part of it. First it was Sam Bradford in 2016 and then when Bradford was hurt early in the 2017, it was Case Keenum who had a career year under Shurmur. That took Shurmur’s resume to the next level, as SB Nation’s Christian D’Andrea wrote:
With Teddy Bridgewater left rehabbing a traumatic knee injury for the second straight year and Bradford eventually landing on injured reserve with his own knee injury, third-string quarterback Case Keenum stepped into the starting lineup and put together a surprising MVP campaign that included an 11-3 record as a starter.
Although Shurmur’s offense is coming off of blowout loss to the Eagles in the NFC Championship game, his performance in Minnesota over the past two seasons is something for Giants fans to be excited about.
The Vikings offense was solid despite key injuries in 2017
Christopher Gates of the Daily Norseman, SB Nation’s Vikings blog, gave this as a primary reason fans should feel good about the Giants’ hire.
But, thanks to a year in the system and a couple of offensive line upgrades, the Minnesota offense made a huge jump under Shurmur in 2017. Despite losing Sam Bradford after the first week of the season and star rookie running back Dalvin Cook in Week 4, the Vikings’ offense jumped from 23rd to 10th in scoring and from 28th to 11th in yardage.
Shurmur is going to get a bit of a bad rap from his first stint as an NFL head coach, as he was the coach in Cleveland for two years and went 9-23. But, given the state that Cleveland has been in for much of the recent past, it’s hard to hold that against him. He’s a solid coach that probably deserves another opportunity to be the man in charge.
And while that NFC Championship loss might give some Giants fans pause, it probably shouldn’t. The Vikings defense picked a hell of a time to turn in their worst performance of the season. Dan Pizzuta of Big Blue View writes that the Vikings’ loss shouldn’t change anything.
Shurmur is going to bring offensive concepts that should open up new possibilities for the Giants. This game doesn’t make those less valuable. This isn’t an ideal game as the last look before he’s announced as the new head coach, but what short of the Super Bowl would be? There are going to be many questions that follow Shurmur as he takes his new gig, but Minnesota’s performance in the NFC Championship Game shouldn’t be among the most pressing.
What he faces in New York is no easy task.
Shurmur has his work cut out for him with the Giants
Ed Valentine of Big Blue View says that there’s really nowhere for the Giants to go but up after an abysmal 2017 season. There are also some questions he’ll need to answer about the future of the Giants:
With the Giants, Shurmur will be tasked with fixing a broken offense. The Giants have not scored 30 points in a game since the final game of the 2015 season when Tom Coughlin was still the head coach. They have finished in the bottom quarter of the league in yards and points in each of the last two seasons.
The Giants, of course, have quarterback questions. Eli Manning is nearing the end of his decorated career, and whether or not he returns for the 2018 season is something Shurmur will certainly have a large say in. There is 2016 third-round pick Davis Webb. There is the fact that the Giants have the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and could use that on their quarterback of the future. There has also been speculation that Shurmur would like to bring Keenum, a free agent, with him.
The defense is also a concern after finishing last season ranked No. 31 in the league.
Will Shurmur keep Steve Spagnuolo around?
Valentine points out that it’s a possibility:
The offense, of course, isn’t the only issue Shurmur has to address. The defense under-achieved in 2016. Spagnuolo actually hired Shurmur as his offensive coordinator with the Rams. Will Shurmur return the favor and keep Spags, or will he look at the reality that the Giants’ defense has been poor in two of Spagnuolo’s three seasons as coordinator and find someone else?
Shurmur will also have to rebuild a culture that crumbled under the leadership of Ben McAdoo. It is possible that retaining Spagnuolo — who knows the players and the dynamics in the locker room — could help in that regard.
Shurmur has experience as a head coach
Sure, he won just nine games over a two-year span with the Browns. Counterpoint: It was the Browns, and Shurmur kind of got a raw deal.
The Browns went 4-12 in 2011, Shurmur’s first full season as head coach. The following year, they used their two first-round picks on Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson, respectively, and Shurmur still managed to improve upon the previous season’s record and finish 5-11.
Jimmy Haslam bought the team midway through the 2012 season. He decided to scrap Shurmur and start over in 2013 with Rob Chudzinski, who lasted exactly one 4-12 season.
Shurmur has just one other game as a head coach — a win for the Eagles after he took over on an interim basis for a fired Chip Kelly.
He’ll have more talent to work with in New York than he did in Cleveland, not to mention stability at the quarterback position. And his recent performance with the Vikings offense is reason for optimism.
Just because Shurmur didn’t win much with the Browns doesn’t mean he’s not worthy of another shot as a head coach.