The New York Giants are suffering through another losing season. Head coach Pat Shurmur has a record of 8-22 in a season-plus as Giants head coach. In New York, that means you’re on the hot seat. Hall of Fame Head Coach Bill Parcells was famous for saying, “you are what your record says you are.” So depending on who you read, the Giants will fire Pat Shurmur at the season’s end. GM Dave Gettleman is also on the hot seat. The Giants have earned a reputation for organizational stability. But since the firing of Tom Coughlin, the team has lost its way. Their record has suffered and they appear dysfunctional. Even if the Giants go 3-1 in the last four games of the season, Pat Shurmur can’t save his own job. John Mara and Steve Tisch need to fire their head coach and GM tandem after Week 17.
Giants Should Fire Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman
The Gettleman-Shurmur regime lacked a clear direction from day one. Gettleman preached installing a winning culture in the locker room. He reshaped the roster with character guys over talent. But now the roster lacks playmakers. The Giants exorcised Odell Beckham, Landon Collins, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins, and Jason Pierre-Paul. But the Giants never fully invested in building through the draft. Gettleman signed Beckham to a five-year contract extension in 2018 instead of trading him for picks. Gettleman refused to move on from Eli Manning before the 2018 draft and sign a young quarterback. Then the team drafted running back Saquon Barkley second overall as the last piece of a playoffs run. The Giants are now one of the most inexperienced teams in the NFL and are several years away from contention. Fans and pundits are questioning Gettleman’s direction, talent evaluations, and Shurmur’s ability to develop young players.
Don’t Let December Games Fool You
The Giants were plagued by a porous defense, an inconsistent running game, and turnovers by Daniel Jones all season. Jones threw 11 interceptions and lost nine of his 13 fumbles. The defense ranked in the bottom third in points, total yards allowed per game, as well as passing yards per game. While the Giants played more competitively during the month, it was fool’s gold. Barkley fully recovered from a high ankle sprain during the softest part of the team’s schedule. The Giants faced an underachieving Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, and Washington Redskins. Miami and Washington won six games combined coming into the matchups. Plus, Eli Manning, the two-time Super Bowl MVP, started for two games for an injured Jones. Even in their victories, the Giants shortcomings kept rearing their ugly heads.
The Giants ran out to a 17-3 lead in the first half of their game against the Eagles on December 19. They were stymied for the rest of the game, losing in overtime. Barkley showed flashes of his rookie form, but finished the night with only 66 yards rushing on 13 carries. The defense gave up only three points in the first half with the Eagles down to down to third and fourth-string wide receivers. But their tight ends were wide open all night. The defense gave up 20 straight points to close out the game with game-tying and winning touchdowns scored by Giants-killer Zach Ertz. The Giants lost nine games in a row for only the second time in their history and for the first time since 1976.
The Manning Era Ends
In Eli Manning’s last start at home, Shurmur’s job may have been on the line. The Miami Dolphins came into the game with more issues than the Giants. Between the trade of Kenyan Drake to Arizona, the release of Mark Walton following his fourth arrest of 2019, and an injury to Kalen Ballage, the starting Dolphins back against the Giants was Patrick Laird, who played sparingly during the season. Once Laird was contained, the Giants focused on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Manning played well enough to win the game. He threw a touchdown pass to Golden Tate that tied the game in the second quarter. Manning put the Giants ahead for good with a TD toss to Darius Slayton before halftime. Saquon Barkley had his first 100-yard game since returning from injury on 24 carries. The defense played its best game of the season against the depleted Dolphins offense to win the game. But the game shouldn’t have been so competitive.
The Young Bowl
Even in their second consecutive December victory, the Giants still lost. Daniel Jones returned from injury to take on the Washington Redskins. The game would likely decide which team got the second overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. With both teams set at quarterback, Ohio State star defensive end Chase Young would be both team’s target. If there ever was a reason to lose a game, the Young sweepstakes was it. But the Giants won again. Big Blue played their most complete game of the year and in essence, lost the chance to draft Young. Barkley ran for 189 yards on 22 carries. He also had four catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Jones finished the game 28-42 for 352 yards and five touchdowns in an overtime win.
The Giants defense pressured Washington quarterbacks all game and had three sacks. Dwayne Haskins left the game early in the second half after a sack by Lorenzo Carter and Markus Golden. Haskins injured his ankle on the play and was replaced by Case Keenum. Keenum ironically played the best football of his career in Shurmur’s offense for the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. The Giants will likely get to face Chase Young as a Redskin twice a year for the next five to ten years. Gettleman and Shurmur lost again.
Pat Shurmur Not Made for New York
The Shurmur era might have unofficially ended after one radio interview. Pat Shurmur was a weekly guest of Mike Francesa on WFAN 101.9 FM every Monday. Francesa, as normal, was brutally harsh to Shurmur after a team’s loss to Buffalo on September 19. Francesa said to Shurmur, “I mean, I hate to say it but you look like a terrible team… you’re not good at anything. You got a really good running back…but other than that you don’t look very good at anything.” The head coach decided to no longer come on the show after that appearance. Francesa may have been tough, but he wasn’t wrong. The team’s decision no longer to appear on Mike’s On showed cowardice in the face of adversity.
New York isn’t for everyone and Shurmur’s mild-manner demeanor and lack of success doomed his tenure. The Giants, even in bad times, were always accountable to their fanbase. Not anymore. There’s no saving Pat Shurmur. It’s time that Big Blue goes back to the drawing board and bring in leadership capable of restoring the team’s winning traditions.
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