The Giants have become what they always insisted and took pride in believing they were not.
A day after ending another miserable season, they canned another head coach, firing Pat Shurmur only two years into a five-year contract. There will not be a search for a new general manager, as Dave Gettleman – hired late in the 2017 season to rebuild a broken franchise – was spared and will return in 2020. Gettleman took over a shabby roster and a dreadful salary cap situation and ownership believes he found a worthy successor to Eli Manning in Daniel Jones.
The Giants since 2017 have lost more games (36) than any team in the NFL and in 2020 will have their fourth head coach in the last six years – five if you want to count Steve Spagnuolo, who filled an interim role late in the 2017 season.
A franchise that believes it operates in lockstep with the successful, stability-infused Steelers now must be likened more so to the Browns, as far as trending as a losing operation making frequent changes on the fly.
Once again, the Giants ring in a New Year engaged in a coaching search.
Shurmur was scheduled to have an 11 a.m. team meeting with his players but never made it that far. He met with ownership Monday morning and was dismissed by 9 a.m. He was still expected to meet with his now former players.
At the start of this coaching hiring cycle, Ron Rivera (Panthers) and Mike McCarthy (Packers) were the two established, veteran and successful options on the market – McCarthy won a Super Bowl as a head coach, Rivera reached one in his time in Carolina. Rivera, though, interviewed Monday with the Redskins and a deal is reportedly imminent.
Another intriguing candidate is Matt Rhule, who turned around college programs at Temple and Baylor. Rhule has only one year of NFL experience – with the Giants in 2012, as their assistant offensive line coach.
Rhule is preparing Baylor for a Sugar Bowl meeting with Georgia. He previously interviewed for NFL head coaching vacancies with the Colts and Jets and is reportedly attracting interest from the Panthers. Rhule has said he will make the jump from college to the NFL only if he views the job as “next to perfect’’ and will insist on control over his staff, which was a bone of contention when he spoke with the Jets before they hired Adam Gase a year ago.
The Giants are in a downward spiral. Twelve games into the 2017 season, the Giants fired their head coach, Ben McAdoo, and Jerry Reese, their general manager, going against a longstanding tradition in terms of making such drastic moves in-season.
The Giants hired Shurmur based on his strong work running the Vikings offense, with Gettleman calling him an “adult’’ who would bring a sense of professionalism to the locker room. Shurmur was a failed head coach once before, going 9-23 in two seasons in Cleveland. Shurmur went 5-11 in his first year with the Giants, working with 37-year old Eli Manning and a roster stretched thin and barren by the miscalculations of Reese.
This season, with Jones on the scene as the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Shurmur waited only two games – both losses – before making the move to the rookie quarterback, benching Manning, a franchise icon. Jones won his first two NFL starts but ran smack into typical first-year growing pains, losing his next eight starts – often the blame of a terrible defense – before suffering a high ankle sprain.
The nine-game losing streak – tying a franchise record – doomed Shurmur, as the Giants for the first time in team history went the entire months of October and November without a victory. Losses to the Cardinals, Lions, Jets and Bears – all non-playoff teams – and blowing a 17-3 lead in Philadelphia sealed Shurmur’s fate.
As the season slipped away, Shurmur did not make excuses for the losing but he made sure to describe his team as “historically” young. The Giants led the league in snaps by rookies and at times their defensive backfield was manned almost exclusively by players with little or no previous experience.
Shurmur held the respect of his players but rarely seemed able to lift the emotional state of the team or make his mark as giving the Giants an advantage on game days with his preparation or in-game operations.
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