While it looks like the New York Giants are going for a longer term strategy that’s unlikely to see staff members fired after one more bad year, this could still be a make or break season for head coach Pat Shurmur, whose debut year wasn’t much of an improvement over his terrible predecessor Ben McAdoo.
Now, the Giants didn’t have a great roster this year and had holes in a number of spots such as the offensive line, which may have been the worst in the league during the first half of the season, and multiple spots on defense ranging from cornerback to pass rusher. Injuries were also a factor in the poor performance this season with various players ranging from Olivier Vernon to Odell Beckham Jr. to Landon Collins and Evan Engram suffering from varying degrees of injury problems.
However, that doesn’t completely remove responsibility from the head coach to lead the team to wins and a lot of fans didn’t have much faith in Shurmur’s strategic ability by the time the season wrapped up. Problems such as a stale and somewhat predictable offense and not leaning enough on Saquon Barkley during the early season – which was also when the Giants had their largest losing skid – led to plenty of criticisms for the rookie head coach.
Those criticisms have also led to Shurmur falling in the eyes of the media, with Sporting News ranking him as only the 29th best head coach in the NFL.
Shurmur moves up one spot after a 5-11 season, but several big questions remain in New York. Saquon Barkley is a star, but the Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr. and drafted Daniel Jones in the first round. Shurmur faces a lot of pressure to right the ship for the Giants, a franchise once known for long-term stability.
Based on last season’s performance, it seems like a fair statement. Shurmur was never going to win the Super Bowl with the roster that he was given in his first year but the Giants still ended up losing a number of relatively close games that a better coached team might be able to pull out despite the talent problem.
The team’s losses to Atlanta and Carolina, and their second losses to Philadelphia and Dallas, for example, were all very close games on the scoreboard. It’s hard to think the Giants still would have had the same result with an above average coach on board, at least for all of those games.
This season, it will be up to Pat Shurmur to move the critics wrong. And if that doesn’t happen and the results are approximately the same as last year, there will definitely be talks about finding a different man to lead the Giants forward rather than backwards in their rebuilding process.