Marred in a years-long slump since their last Super Bowl win in 2011, the Giants have struggled both in letting go of the past and embracing the future. For the second time in just three years, the franchise has fired a head coach in search of the ultimate solution.
Pat Shurmur was hired after a short but tumultuous run under Ben McAdoo in 2018. Formerly the Vikings offensive coordinator during the “Minnesota Miracle” and the rise of Case Keenum, Shurmur was thought to have both the head coaching experience and offensive polish desired of a team that was hoping to both maximize Eli Manning’s remaining years and build the foundation for his successor.
He fit the mold of what the Giants had been looking for: A safe bet from a franchise that had a track record of success; a coordinator who knew the division well; someone who could work with quarterbacks but make time to lead a team.
Instead, the team found that Shurmur had more of the same issues that McAdoo had. Whether that was a struggle to relate to the franchise’s then-highest paid player (Odell Beckham Jr.), or to design something amenable for a declining Manning, Shurmur’s teams floundered, going 9–23 over two years. With Manning moving on after this season, not to mention Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley entering pivotal periods in their own developmental curve, the next hire may be one of the most important decisions owner John Mara has made as the franchise’s most powerful voice.
The fascinating part about a vacancy in East Rutherford is that anything is possible. The Giants are one of the most revered franchises in sports and play in football’s largest market. Beyond the popular coordinator-of-the-week gumbo, their reach could extend to some of the biggest potential head-coaching names in the game. Mara’s cachet and reputation as a pragmatic and fair owner go a long way and could lure a major player who would not otherwise leave a prestigious job elsewhere. It remains to be seen whether keeping general manager Dave Gettleman impacts the pool as much as believed (the Giants, in announcing Shurmur's dismissal, gave a major vote of confidence to Gettleman). Gettleman, a long-time Giants employee, has been vocally averse to using analytical decision-making and seems to be against many of the economic draft principals that have aided struggling rosters in the past. He would be, at best, an odd pairing for the kind of young program builder the team hopes to court, though whispers of him being a turnoff may be slightly exaggerated.
Experimenting with both McAdoo and Shurmur in recent years—and watching them both fail to return the franchise to prominence—could ensure that a more experienced candidate (or at least a candidate who is currently at the top of their respective class) ends up as the team’s next head coach.
Shurmur, who had an interim head coaching gig in Philadelphia and two seasons as head coach of the Browns back in 2011 and ’12, is 19–46 throughout his career. He has never won more than five games in a season.
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