New York Giants
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

General manager Dave Gettleman has done a great job this offseason upgrading the New York Giants roster. Now it’s up to head coach Pat Shurmur to lead the team in the right direction.

New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur was named Assistant Coach of the Year for the work he did last season as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator. If he’s going to be a candidate for NFL Head Coach of the Year in 2018 and turn the Giants into contenders, he must first change their recent fortunes in the NFC East.

In the six seasons that followed the Giants victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl 46, they have failed to win a division title. The other three teams in the division have all won the division twice (Eagles in 2013 and 2017, Cowboys in 2014 and 2016, and Redskins in 2012 and 2015).

In those six seasons, the Giants’ record in the division is 15-21, including 1-5 a season ago. That simply isn’t good enough and it’s not acceptable, especially when you factor in the fact that the Giants have a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Eli Manning.

New York Giants Eli Manning
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Before teams can even think about winning a Super Bowl, they must first take care of business in their division. So now it’s on Shurmur to bring out the best in his players and show that they’re ready to compete in the NFC East.

A plus for Shurmur as he begins his second tenure as an NFL head coach is that general manager Dave Gettleman has made huge upgrades to both sides of the ball this offseason.

For the defense, he traded for inside linebacker Alec Ogletree and signed free agents Kareem Martin, Josh Mauro and William Gay. Then in the third round of the draft, he selected linebacker Lorenzo Carter (66th overall) and defensive tackle B.J. Hill (69th overall). He added another defensive tackle in the fifth round, R.J. McIntosh (139th overall).

Carter is projected to start at one of the outside linebacker positions while Hill and McIntosh will add depth to the defense and keep it fresh for the second half of games.

To boost the offense, Gettleman signed the best left tackle in free agency, Nate Solder, and added guard Patrick Omameh. Will Hernandez, one of the best guards in the 2018 NFL Draft, the team’s second-round pick (34th overall), rounds out the group

New York Giants

But the best decision Gettleman made this offseason was taking the best offensive player in this year’s draft in running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick. Early in the offseason, he added veteran free agent Jonathan Stewart, who will be a mentor to Barkley and Wayne Gallman.

With the upgrades to the O-line and the running back position, the Giants are poised to have a strong ground game for the first time in years, which will help them in division games which typically go down to the wire.

Since 2012, only once have the Giants finished in the top half of the league in rushing offense and have never finished better than third in the division in rushing. That shouldn’t be the case this season.

With the upgrades the Giants have made and a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. returning, Shurmur has a roster that should be in the playoff hunt in December.

New York Giants Odell Beckham Jr.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Some may have questions as to whether Shurmur would be the right man to turn the Giants around since his head coaching record in the NFL is 10-23. But all but one of those games was with the Cleveland Browns, a franchise that even the great Bill Belichick has a losing record with.

So it’s understandable why Gettleman and Giants President and CEO John Mara were not turned off by Shurmur’s record with the Browns.

During Shurmur’s introductory press conference in January, Mara spoke about why he felt Shurmur was the right coach for the Giants

“He just was so professional. His philosophy on building a team. When he said, ‘you have to be able to block them,’ that is something that hit home with me. Obviously, we’ve had our issues there. He and Dave (Gettleman) seem to mesh very well together. You have to have that, too. You have to have a coach and general manager, they don’t have to agree all the time. In fact, you don’t want them to agree all the time, but they have to be able to communicate, respect one another and have similar philosophies. I think we have that now.”

With the exception of the Philadelphia Eagles, the rest of the division is going through transitions that may leave them worse off than they were a year ago.

The Cowboys cut Dez Bryant and lost Jason Witten to retirement, while the Redskins will have a new quarterback in Alex Smith. There’s no reason why the Giants shouldn’t be considered the second-best team in the division.

Coaching in the Big Apple can be daunting, but Shurmur seems unfazed by the pressure or expectations. As long as he’s closer to Tom Coughlin instead of Ben McAdoo, expect the Giants to have a resurgence in the NFC East.

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