Throughout the years there have been some very impactful head coaches who not only manage a game well but call the offensive plays the way an offensive coordinator would. The New York Giants have hoped they would get the same from Pat Shurmur.
Usually, coaches get their shot at being a head coach by starting as a positional coach and then becoming a coordinator of an entire unit. Pat Shurmur has gotten his shot at being a head coach through offensive coordinator positions. He’s widely considered a quarterback-whisperer as well.
While there have been exceptions, very few coaches have displayed the ability to remain sharp in both play-calling and managing a game efficiently. One notable head coach who was let go in 2018 due to a stale offense was Mike McCarthy. Even with his years of knowledge and having Aaron Rodgers at his disposal, both calling plays and managing the game was becoming too much for him. It’s hard enough for most coaches to do just one of the jobs well enough, let alone handle both at the same time.
Managing the Game
This doesn’t have much to do with Pat Shurmur as a play-caller, although he didn’t become aggressive against the Cowboys until it was too late.
At the end of the 1st half last Sunday, the team got the ball back and could’ve desperately used a touchdown, being down 21-7 at the time. The Giants started the drive with 1:13 on the clock and 2 timeouts, enough time to go score a touchdown for many teams. Instead, the team spent 43 seconds gaining less than 15 yards because Pat Shurmur never called a timeout between the two conservative plays. This is unbelievably inefficient for a much-needed two-minute drill. The team didn’t make it past mid-field with 1:13 to work with.
With all due respect to Pat Shurmur, 10-year-old children who play Madden have made better use of 2 timeouts at the end of a half. Usually, such simple mistakes are made when someone is spread too thin. For a man that’s been coaching for most of his life, it’s inexcusable to make such a mistake.
This Is Not The First Time Shurmur Has Made Such Mistakes
This was an issue last year as well, in the first matchup against the Eagles Pat Shurmur didn’t use his timeouts as the Eagles finished their drive in the red zone. This let the Eagles run the rest of the clock as they scored on the last drive of the half. One should easily come to the conclusion the Eagles would like to leave no time left for the Giants to respond but there’s no telling what Pat was thinking. After the game, Pat addressed the media saying it “wouldn’t happen again.” Well, it might not have happened on defense again but it happened on offense instead.
Remember, last year wasn’t his 1st year as a head coach. These issues are continuing to show up from a coach who’s in his 3rd year.
It hasn’t been quite long enough to judge Pat Shurmur on his track record as far as challenges go. At the same time, it was interesting to see he didn’t know the rule on challenging plays inside of the 2-minute warning. We can assume he knew the rule in general, not being able to recall it at the moment is concerning. When he threw the challenge flag after the Hail Mary, maybe he was just frustrated after being burned on some calls, or maybe he has too much to account for and isn’t fully in the moment. Either way, that’s not something you want to see from a head coach.
Easily Correctable Mistakes vs. Dallas
The play he should’ve challenged, if any, was the 4th and 1 play where Sterling Shepard was headed toward the sideline when he was tackled in the end zone. The refs stated Eli was out of the pocket, therefore, it was warranted. However, Eli didn’t look like he was fully out of the pocket yet. If he won the potential challenge the Giants would’ve been set up for 1st and goal. If not it was a play that was at least eligible to challenge, unlike the Hail Mary.
Some aspects of managing the game are even carried out on the offensive side of the ball and coach Shurmur squandered that opportunity as well on Sunday. Handing the ball to Saquon Barkley 25 times would’ve theoretically extended drives and kept Dallas’ high-flying offense off the field, considering how well it worked. Barkley averaged over 10 yards per carry in his limited opportunities. Instead, Pat called for a ton of conservative passing plays and only let Saquon touch the ball 15 times.
Head-Scratching offensive decisions
Pat Shurmur is an offensive-minded coach but some of his play-calls are truly confusing for people to wrap their heads around.
Handing the ball to Elijah Penny when Saquon Barkley is in the backfield as well is inexcusable. It’s simply choosing the lower-ceiling outcome for the play before the ball is even snapped. Penny is out there to block. His career started as a running back but he wasn’t any good at being a ball-carrier, hence why he’s a fullback now.
Having Eli roll out to his right when Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas’ best pass rusher, is lined up on that side shouldn’t be done simply out of common sense. The team paid for trying it.
Sterling Shepard was almost exclusively targeted at the line of scrimmage. His 1 target that was further down the field ended up being a miscommunication between him and Eli. With Shepard being the most talented wide receiver available Sunday, they certainly limited his potential to impact the game with minimal air-yards on his targets.
Shurmur Is Being Spread Too Thin
One thing we know about Coach Shurmur is he’s a respectable, well-composed leader. He’s also not to blame for wanting to call plays. Any head coach would most likely try holding on to play-calling if you let them but some start making very costly and inexcusable mistakes.
No coach makes it to where Pat is without knowing how to utilize timeouts approaching halftime. No coach makes it to where Pat is thinking Elijah Penny offers more upside on a play than Saquon Barkley. No coach makes it to where Pat is by rolling out his immobile quarterback into the strongest and fastest side of the defense.
There are signs of the man being spread too thin when looking at how simple yet detrimental his mistakes have been. His leash as a play-caller should start shortening as these game-management issues just haven’t gone away. Since the New York Giants offense hasn’t exactly flourished under Shurmur anyway, it might be worth giving Mike Shula a shot at one of the duties that usually comes with his job, play-calling.