The Pat Shurmur era is finally starting to take shape for Giants
LANDOVER, Md. — Through the storm, the great expectations for a Super Bowl-or-bust franchise and its true blue fan base on the precipice of “bust,” coach Pat Shurmur refuses to flinch.
It is the way the captain of every NFL ship must be, and it is the overriding reason why Shurmur is the right man for this giant job.
“I think I’ve stayed off the roller coaster, emotionally, for sure,” Shurmur told The Post, “because if you really believe you stay in the moment, and you work on making today the best, you can’t be on the roller coaster. It’s just not possible.
“I don’t think people in a position of authority, because players’ emotions run high and low, I think we have to present, and it has to be genuine, a calm confidence that we’re doing the right thing, we’re on the right track. If the people in a position of authority ride the roller coaster with the guys that you’re trying to lead, I think that becomes counterproductive.”
Saquon Barkley is certain Shurmur is the right man for the job.
“He’s been the same through the ups and the downs, still try and create that winning culture around here. … That’s something that we needed during that time, and I think it’s starting to show now.”
Shurmur is 4-8 in his first Giants season, and you are what your record says you are. But there are unmistakable signs he has begun teaching an overhauled team, which desperately needed a leader’s steady hand, how to win. He knows that the restoration of Giants Pride falls on him.
“We have a rich tradition here that involves winning,” Shurmur said. “I’ve coached in other buildings that had not won Lombardi Trophies. It’s in our DNA. We just gotta dig it back out.”
The digging back out resumes on Sunday against Mark Sanchez and the Redskins. The four Lombardi Trophies staring back at Shurmur in the lobby motivate him.
“I am [motivated],” he said. “ It’s hard not to be. Walk by ’em on my way to every meal,” Shurmur said.
He has witnessed first-hand, everywhere he turns: the commitment to winning inside the Quest Diagnostics Center.
“You feel it in the building from the folks that prepare our food, the people in the equipment room, the people in the training room, the video, the people in community relations, in public relations — they live and die with every victory and every loss,” Shurmur said. “They’re disappointed when we lose, and they’re certainly elated when we win.”
GM Dave Gettleman targets players who hate losing more than they love winning. Shurmur is that.
“I’ve always hated losing,” he said, “because I think we all fight for the thrill of victory. The thrill of competition, and being able to compete, makes me always want to do it. Unfortunately you lose sometimes. But I always show up on Sunday thinking we’re gonna win the game if we play and coach the right way.”
The record goes alongside the head coach, and quarterback. Eli Manning has accepted that burden and those pressures for 15 years. Shurmur has more of an edge than Manning, but he is genuine and the same guy every day.
“I think every owner, every organization, every fan base expects that you’re gonna win every game,” Shurmur said, “and I expect that of us and our staff and our team.
“In terms of dealing with the pressures of it, right is right and winning is winning. And so when you don’t win, I understand what comes with it. I have a selective awareness to what is being said. I have to be aware of it to answer the questions, but I don’t read it, I don’t listen to it, and that helps me stay in the moment better. Good or bad.”
He hasn’t made a mountain out of any Odell Beckham Jr. molehill as he orchestrates a critical culture change. With Beckham a surprise scratch Saturday with a bruised quad, it will absolutely test Shurmur’s play-calling skills.
“I think Warren Buffett said it: When you put a team together, it starts with integrity, and then it’s an energy and intelligence, and without the first, integrity, the other two will kill ya,” Shurmur said. “And integrity when you build a team is about being a good teammate. We certainly want to bring in players that are talented enough to do their jobs, but they gotta understand the importance of being a good teammate. And I’ve seen things through the years, especially in that first half of the season where we lost some close games, and they competed throughout. Those are the things that you’re looking for, a team that’s willing to compete, when some may say you’re out of it. ’Cause that’s the nature of this game, the love of the competition.
“And as we get good enough in all areas, we’ll be favored in these games, and we’ll win more than we lose and give ourselves a chance to be in the playoffs, and compete for the big one.”
He is philosophically aligned with Gettleman and has an excellent working relationship with the GM. Shurmur is still the adult in the Big Blue room.
“And the reason it’s excellent is we communicate constantly and we’re honest with one another,” Shurmur said. “And we have a lot of shared vision starting with nothing works if you can’t block ’em.”
They have stabilized the offensive line to the point Manning can function.
“I’m fond of everything that Eli is all about,” Shurmur said, “and I do know this: There is no quarterback that can do it all by himself.”
Manning turns 38 next month, and the Giants passed on Sam Darnold and the rest of the Class of 2018 quarterbacks to draft Saquon Barkley second overall.
“As we talk about this through the years, I’ll be able to answer that honestly forever … that we did not regret drafting Saquon as opposed to one of the quarterbacks. I will always be able to answer that honestly and say we picked the right guy in this year’s draft,” Shurmur said.
So the critical search for a young franchise quarterback continues.
“I think we all want to be able to say that we have our generational quarterback,” Shurmur said. “But we have to do what’s best for us and make sure we put the best team together we can, and we’ll just see how that plays out.”
That sentiment is echoed in the message Shurmur would send to Giants fans about the future.
“I think the future’s bright because of the players that we’re accumulating,” he said. “This team knows how to persevere. In a game where toughness and resiliency are demanded, our players have that. And so, if you believe that hard work gets you where you want to go, then I think we’re on the right track. The disappointment is shared by everybody in our building that we didn’t win enough games early in the season. I think we’re starting to play the way that we want to play now at the back end of the season.
“And then the other thing I would say is everything’s connected. So let’s go under the assumption that a lot of these players that we’re playing with now through the back end of the season, are gonna be part of our team next year. Being able to learn from the perseverance and the pushing through the back end of a season is something that you can build on. So I do think years are connected.”
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