New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur made statements on the team and the offseason at the NFL coaches breakfast this past weekend.
The New York Giants have been a part of numerous gigantic headlines this offseason. From trading wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to not franchise tagging All-Pro safety Landon Collins, the team’s direction is unclear to many onlookers.
Are they rebuilding? Are they in win-now mode? Do they have a plan for the quarterback situation?
This past weekend, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur spoke at the NFL Coaches Breakfast in Phoenix, Arizona. Going into his second year as the head coach, Shurmur made numerous statements on the status of the organization along with what their current plan is.
1. The quarterback of the future issue
Recently, the Giants paid quarterback Eli Manning his $5 million roster bonus for 2019. This essentially means that Manning will be the starting quarterback for next season. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of getting a younger quarterback on the roster, however.
The Giants could end up taking Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the No. 6 overall pick or they could construct a trade to get Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen. The Cardinals chose Rosen 10th overall in the 2018 draft. The Giants could have Rosen sit for a year and learn behind Manning and then make him the future of the Giants at quarterback, whether that’s in 2020 or later.
Shurmur this past weekend addressed the issue and stated they want their future quarterback “sooner better than later.”
The Giants head coach praised both Haskins and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, who are two of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft.
“I don’t know what’s too small,” Shurmur said in February. “We haven’t seen Kyler be measured yet. But when you watch him on tape he is an outstanding player. For a sub-6-foot player, he only had five balls batted down. You’ve got to really look at the player, how he competed, how he helped his team win games. You’ve got to look at all of it, factor it in and decide if that player is for you.”
Shurmur also praised the Buckeye quarterback after attending his pro day at Ohio State.
“It was excellent,” Shurmur told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “We obviously have spent a lot of time evaluating him, and this is one piece of it. We got the chance to work with him on the board and take him to dinner, and he certainly is an accomplished and impressive young man.”
NFL Network’s Pete Schrager recently released his second mock draft and has the Giants taking Missouri quarterback Drew Lock.
— GMFB (@gmfb) March 26, 2019
Lock tallied 28 touchdown passes and eight interceptions with a 62.9 completion percentage for Missouri this past season.
Per Schwartz, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula was also in attendance for Duke quarterback Daniel Jones‘ pro day.
Jones played under coach David Cutcliffe at Duke, who was Manning’s head coach at Ole Miss in the early 2000s.
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula is at Duke for QB Daniel Jones’ Pro Day.
— Paul Schwartz (@NYPost_Schwartz) March 26, 2019
With the 2020 quarterback class looking more impressive than the 2019 class, however, Shurmur isn’t using it as a distraction when it comes to the upcoming draft.
Whatever the Giants decide to do at quarterback, the best approach would be the “Kansas City model.” If they were to get a young quarterback that can learn behind Manning, that would make for a beneficial future at that position.
2. The trade of Odell Beckham Jr.
Shurmur recently stated that he was behind the OBJ trade. He approved it and believed the front office could come together and help replace the Pro Bowl receiver.
The Giants head coach stated that he’s “not disappointed” over the trade of Beckham. This response comes regardless of the fact that Big Blue gave OBJ a five-year, $95 million contract extension last summer.
Shurmur came to his own organization’s defense when asked about the organization being “tired” of the receiver’s antics.
“The notion we were tired of Odell, that’s not accurate.” Shurmur stated.
The Giants offense will be different without their star receiver though. Without his play on the field, Manning has to spread the field more as a quarterback and create opportunities for additional players.
“It takes a village,” Shurmur said at the breakfast regarding the new offense.
It will take a “village,” there’s no doubt about that. The Giants recently re-signed receivers Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler Jr. They also signed veteran Golden Tate to a four-year deal worth $37 million. With them, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, tight end Evan Engram, and running back Saquon Barkley, Manning will have a wide range of targets through the air in 2019.
He no longer has his No. 1 target, but Manning needs options. He won’t be able to hone in his entire focus on one end of the field, and it’ll force the Giants to spread the field even more. It’ll be interesting to see what that’s going to be like next season.
3. Offensive Line and Defensive Line issues
The Giants allowed 47 sacks last year which tied for 22nd in the league. The defensive line, although showing moments of promise, wasn’t all that great either. The Giants overall pass rush was tied for 30th in the NFL with 30 sacks this past season.
Shurmur stated that it’s a “big man’s game” at the breakfast this weekend.
Thus far in the offseason, the O-Line has quietly been a huge priority for Big Blue. Although they haven’t shown the same attention on defense, the Giants have made progress with their once-depleted offensive line. They recently re-signed centers, Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley, and received offensive guard Kevin Zeitler when they traded linebacker Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns.
The Giants recently signed defensive lineman Olsen Pierre but lost defensive end Kerry Wynn to the Cincinnati Bengals due to free agency. That pass rush was too unproductive last year not to be a concern this offseason. The Giants need to make some more moves when it comes to that position.
4. The Acquisition of Jabrill Peppers
The Giants received safety and return specialist Jabrill Peppers from the Browns when they traded Beckham. Now that Collins is gone, Peppers and newly-signed safety Antoine Bethea can work alongside one another to lead the secondary.
Peppers was an effective return man when he played at the University of Michigan, and Shurmur is taking that into account.
Shurmur noted that Peppers will “absolutely be used as a returner.” He also made it known that he wasn’t just a reliable safety, but a good “football player.”
Peppers will most likely be the Giants’ deep safety and will play in the box for the most part. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares with veterans Bethea and Janoris Jenkins, along with another young defensive back in cornerback Sam Beal.
5. Halapio vs. Pulley for the Starting Center Position
The Giants re-signed Halapio earlier this month after missing nearly the entire season with numerous leg injuries. With this move, many thought he would be the Giants starting center in 2019. The Giants however re-signed Pulley not much later. Pulley became the starting center for the majority of 2018 after Halapio went down.
Shurmur stated that both centers would be competing in the offseason and in training camp for the starting job. Both are reliable options and would help an offensive line looking to improve from last season.
Halapio posted an above-average Pro Football Focus grade of 69.4 before going down in 2018, while Pulley posted an average grade of 55.9. Both can be starting centers in this league, and it’ll be interesting to see which one edges the other one out for the position.
Whoever wins the job will be working alongside left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Will Hernandez, Zeitler, and potentially right tackle Chad Wheeler. Wheeler could still be replaced though, as he had the worst PFF grade on the Giants last season. The University of Southern California product had a below-average grade of 47.4 in 2018.