The recent firing of head coach Pat Shurmur is a move that the New York Giants organization definitely needed to make.
The date was Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. It was a cold and wet day, with the raindrops quickly coming down and increasing their aggression as time marched forward. In East Rutherford, NJ (MetLife Stadium to be exact), the New York Giants took on the division rival-Philadelphia Eagles.
It was a meaningless game for Big Blue, one that only mattered for their position in the following spring’s draft. But for Philly, a win was needed. A loss, paired with a Dallas Cowboys win would ensure “America’s Team” would be heading to the playoffs.
In conjunction, the Eagles would lock up the NFC East division and their third consecutive playoff berth. The Giants, on the other hand, would lock up their third straight season (and fifth out of their last six) with at least 10 defeats. New York ultimately finished 4-12, one fewer win than their 5-11 campaign in 2018.
With the loss (their seventh consecutive to the Eagles), head coach Pat Shurmur was done. A little bit over 12 hours later, the organization decided to part ways with the man they had just hired nearly two years prior.
Shurmur led the team to just nine wins in two seasons. His firing was a move that many fans expected to be made, and a move that, overall, needed to be made.
Let’s look at some of the facts. Who was this organization’s head coach prior to Shurmur’s very disappointing and lackluster tenure? That’s right, Ben McAdoo. And what on-field issues did McAdoo bring to the organization? A boring, uncreative, slow-tempo offense that never scored 30 points in a game while he was head coach.
Yes, in McAdoo’s 28 games in that position, the team’s highest single-game point total was 28. They defeated the Eagles 28-23 in a November game in 2016, the organization’s last win over their hated division rival.
During McAdoo’s overall tenure, the team averaged just 17.8 points-per-game.
Thus, the organization brought in the offensive-minded Shurmur to help fix those football-related issues, something he didn’t accomplish.
In the last two seasons, the Giants have averaged just 22.2 points-per-game with 347.3 total yards-per-game. This past season, they were 23rd in total yards-per-game (338.5) and 18th in points-per-game (21.3). Both categories saw a decrease from the previous year’s totals.
Shurmur also took over a team (and offensive play-calling duties) with a struggling offensive line. In McAdoo’s final season, the line allowed 34 sacks (2.1 per game) and 70 quarterback hits (4.4 per game).
Under Shurmur, the offensive line became even worse. In 2018, the group allowed 47 sacks (2.9 per game) and 97 quarterback hits (6.1 per game). Additionally, in 2019, they allowed 43 sacks (2.7 per game) and 119 quarterback hits (7.4 per game and 30th in the league).
The 2018 line also had a different starting center, right guard, and right tackle from the 2019 group. Regardless, Shurmur and his staff couldn’t coach up that group to protect the quarterback in the majority of circumstances.
A trend in this league has become hiring an offensive-minded head coach that has a creative approach to his gameplan. Just look at individuals like Sean McVay, Matt Nagy, Matt LaFleur, Kliff Kingsbury, and Adam Gase, to name a few. These are all guys who were just hired in the last few seasons.
Yes, Shurmur possesses an offensive-minded approach, but it’s nowhere near creative. If you watched Giants games this year (which I understand was difficult), you know what their drives looked like. Countless upon countless offensive possessions were almost identical: A run on first down, an incomplete pass on second, followed by a 3rd-and-long.
As a result, New York was 19th in the league with a third-down efficiency rate of 37%. That’s essentially what happens when a great number of drives end up like that. Not only did it make the offense’s job even tougher, but it put a whole lot more pressure on rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Those long, do-or-die third downs are the exact opposite of what you want for your 22-year-old first-year quarterback.
I’m not saying other teams shouldn’t hire Shurmur. They should…but as an offensive coordinator. This man now has a head-coaching record of 19-46, a 29.2% success rate. During his last year as a coordinator (2017 with the Vikings), Minnesota finished 11th in the league with 356.9 yards-per-game and 10th in the league with 23.9 points-per-game. Not to mention, Case Keenum was the team’s starting quarterback for 14 games that year plus the postseason.
All-in-all, there were numerous reasons for the Giants to tell Shurmur to pack his bags and show him the door. Many fans believed they should’ve done it sooner. That way, they’d have a leg-up on teams also searching for a new head coach.
Nonetheless, the move was made. It had to be made.