The next 24-48 hours should be very interesting for New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, who will decide the fates of head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman.
According to some early reports from FOX Sports' Jay Glazer and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, both men believe that Shurmur will be out while Gettleman will be safe.
Until such time when there is official word from the team regarding what the Giants ownership has decided, here is a look at the three likely scenarios on the table and which ones make the most sense and why.
Door No. 1: Ride Out the Storm
There’s something to be said about patience, which appears to be the approach John Mara is believed to be favoring.
This is a Giants franchise that hit rock bottom under the weight of years of poor personnel moves from the Jerry Reese era. In hiring Gettleman and Pat Shurmur, they cleaned out the malcontents, fixed the salary cap, and rebuilt a core of young talent.
The problem is when you clean out a roster from top to bottom the way the Giants have these last two years, it takes time for everything to come together. I have equated the Giants’ current circumstances to that of an expansion team. You have a mix of young and old players alike trying to form a new nucleus that can serve as the foundation for years to come.
That foundation doesn’t happen overnight, and if you change the architects of that foundation, you run the risk of having to start the whole process over, which could result in more years lost.
There are exceptions—you look at the 49ers and how they turned things around in one season.
Then you look at the Ravens, who, after posting a 10-6 record in 2014 (good enough for third in the AFC North), they went 5-11 and 8-8 the next two seasons before finally moving their arrow up to a 10-6 mark in 2019 and their 13-2 record entering Week 17.
Generally speaking, the more work that has to be done on a roster—and the Giants had a lot done to it—the longer it can take to bring it all together.
That requires a degree of patience in staying the course and tweaking what is needed rather than tearing everything down and starting all over.
Door No. 2: Start from Scratch
According to the New York Post, Tisch is in favor of wholesale changes. However, the article doesn’t indicate if those changes are to extend beyond the coaching staff and the general manager.
But let’s assume for the time being that Tisch only favors starting over with both a new general manager and a head coach. On the one hand, that approach makes sense in that you avoid the patchwork approach the Giants deployed once Tom Coughlin started to lose his mojo.
On the other, you now risk starting over on the personnel side, and there stands to be a chance that all the work and talent acquired during the Gettleman-Shurmur era is no longer is a fit for the new general manager and head coach.
This means that those players you are going to salvage—running back Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones come to mind—are probably going to have to start from scratch, thereby wasting another year of their respective rookie deals.
And wouldn’t it be nice if this team’s arrow was pointing in the right direction before the Giants have to sink millions of dollars into the second contracts for Barkley and Jones and all those other young players who are still on their rookie deals?
Starting over does have its benefits. But the Giants have already done that two years ago, and if Tisch is pushing for wholesale changes as reports indicate, how deep would the changes reach?
Door No. 3: Meet in the Middle
This could be the scenario that makes the most sense and which puts both co-owners’ reported desires on an equal scale.
This scenario would be to retain Shurmur but insist that significant changes be made to the coaching staff and the way he does things are made.
The first change that would have to be made is the coaching staff. There have been whispers that there isn’t complete buy-in within the building on the coaching staff as constructed and that if Shurmur is retained, multiple firings of his staff are expected to take place.
Where might such firings occur? You can start on the defensive side of the ball. Coordinator James Bettcher has been given just about every former Cardinals player from his time in Arizona that was available and yet he still failed to turn this defense into a reliable and consistent unit.
That miscommunications were happening late into the season, and that it took for certain players to finally develop are also black marks against Bettcher’s record as well as those of his assistant coaches. If Shurmur is kept, the Giants might be better off going back to a pure 4-3 defensive front, which is believed to be a better and simpler fit for the personnel they have.
Offensive line coach Hal Hunter could also be in danger of being sent packing. While the struggles of the line aren’t entirely the fault of the coaching and the players, among the concerns are that this offensive line still can’t seem to pick up a stunt this late in the season.
The other change is removing Shurmur as the play-caller, as given the repeated in-game mismanagement issues, it’s as clear as day that Shurmur can’t handle the play-calling AND manage the sideline.
If Shurmur is smart, he’d be best off establishing himself as a head coach who can win rather than a head coach who thinks he can handle it all. He’s done neither now with two teams. A change to his thinking is long overdue if he gets another year as head coach.
What Will it Be?
If continuity and stability (there are those words again!) are what the co-owners want, keeping Shurmur and gutting the coaching staff could be the way to go as it would allow for the multiyear rebuild started in 2018 to continue.
If they were to start over with a new head coach while keeping the same general manager, who’s to say that the new head coach won’t have a completely different idea regarding the type of talent he desires versus what Shurmur wanted?
And if they were to sweep out both the head coach and general manager, might the core of players be in jeopardy of being broken down again?
Remember when Gettleman and Shurmur came in how suddenly players who had once been a part of the core were no longer deemed as fits?
Would a new coach-GM combination look at the current core Gettleman and Shurmur built and draw similar conclusions with players currently on the roster?
If you're going to make the argument that the core talent would flourish under better coaching and schemes, then it probably makes the most sense to meet in the middle by keeping Gettleman and moving on from Shurmur and his staff.