A Giant Task Awaits Pat Shurmur in New York
This week saw one of the main non-postseason narratives finally come to an end.
The coaching merry-go-round finally slowed down just enough for the New York Giants and Pat Shurmur to dizzily step off, hand-in-hand, and announce the hiring of the former Minnesota Vikings Offensive Coordinator as their new Head Coach.
Granted, that’s a strange analogy, but just go with it!
The vacancy had been one of, if not the most, coveted in the league heading into the off-season. An array of candidates from Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels of the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots to internal candidate Steve Spagnoulo were linked with the role before the onetime Browns Head Coach was chosen as the man to clean up the mess that was the 2017 season..
Shurmur is seen by many as a smart hire and has been brought on board in no small part due to his work with Sam Bradford and Case Keenum. He and the Giants have a lot to fix going into their first off-season together. So, what are the key issues they need to address:
Josh Rosen. No Matter What:
In the 2014 film ‘Draft Day’, Kevin Costner plays an embattled General Manager, who, against all perceived wisdom, opts not to take the highly-touted QB. It is later revealed that his character wrote ‘Vontae Mack. No Matter What’ on a post-it note, in an effort to convince himself to make the right choice for the franchise and ignore the flashy college QB.
If Pat Shurmur has ever seen ‘Draft Day’, he should a) make better life choices, the movie was terrible, and b) do the exact opposite and take the highly-touted, flashy college QB in Josh Rosen.
The UCLA Quarterback is widely considered to be the top passer in this draft class and has the confidence and poise not to be overawed by the bright lights and media scrutiny that come with playing in the biggest market in the league. The Giants need to move on from Eli Manning, and in Rosen they could secure the next decade at Quarterback.
Odell Beckham Jr. is right in the mix with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones in the best-wide-receiver-in-the-league discussion and is likely going to get a $100 million contract in the coming years. The fact that not many people will bat an eye at that is testament to the impact he has had since entering the league in 2014.
At his peak, he is a game changing talent who has shown that he can win games single-handedly. This season showed how the Giants rely on him more than any other franchise relies on a player league-wide, with the Giants going 3-13 after OBJ went down with a season ending ankle injury.
However, for the talent that Beckham Jr. undoubtedly brings to the table, he has the penchant for being a distraction. Whether he is lashing out a kicking net (and then *sigh* proposing to it…), taking ill-advised pre-Wildcard Round trips to Miami or attempting to take Josh Norman’s head clean off, every single move the Baton Rouge-native makes is scrutinised unlike any other player in the league.
His immaturity is the one con against him. Perhaps the first major lay-off of his pro career will bring with it a change of mentality. Don’t get me wrong, OBJ’s care-free attitude and ability to deliver on the biggest stage are what makes him a star, but with Eli likely out the door – or at least on his way out – this is his chance to take over the role of leader for a franchise not exactly full of them at present.
An Apple a Day… Leads to Locker Room Turmoil?:
When you are described as a ‘cancer’ by one of your teammates, it doesn’t bode well, does it?!
Apple came into the league with questions over his maturity and this season has seen him benched, suspended, fight with coaches and drive a teammate to elicit the response above.
In a season marred with disciplinary issues for one of the league’s most important and well-thought-of franchises, the Giants need to set a precedent and cutting the second year defensive back will set the tone for the new era at MetLife.
Dave Gettleman, the Giants new GM, is known to value discipline and it was a cornerstone of the teams he oversaw in Carolina. You can be sure that it is something that he and Shurmur discussed in detail.
Offense, Offense, Offensive Line:
During his time at the helm of the New York Football Giants, Jerry Reese inexcusably ignored the franchises offensive line issues. There may have been injury issues this season – former Canadian Football League lineman Brett Jones ended up as the Giants starting Center – but over the last 5 season’s, the Giants have finished 26th, 29th, 18th, 23rd and 29th in rushing.
While the slate of Running Backs lining up in the back field haven’t exactly been a who’s who of offensive talent, ignoring the issues they have with their O-line this off-season would amount to willful ignorance.
With Gettleman and Shurmur in charge and with a clean slate, expect the Giants to be active in Free-Agency or the Draft.
This OTI piece was written by Mark Gordon. Mark is an Arizona Cardinals fan from Dublin with a background in advertising. You can find Mark on Twitter at @MarkGordon__