“What we’re going through, trying to grow away from 3-13, this is really not about football, this is about leadership, people in control, people in the locker room. This is about team-building. It just so happens we play football. When we tip those first couple of things over, we’ll start to see the results we’re looking for. A lot of people get tired of hearing about the process of things, but we’ve got to flip the table on what wasn’t good around here and make it happen. I think at least we’re on the right path.”
Those my friends are the words of New York Football Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. They are from his post-game press conference following Big Blue’s season ending one-point loss to the Cowboys. What struck me most as I watched the festivities, was not so much what he said, but how he said it. To this Giants fan, Shurmur’s demeanor was that of someone who was mildly satisfied with what he’d just “accomplished”. What I heard was something more like this:
Well gang that was certainly not pretty, but it was light years better than last year. This season was never going to be about “the football”, it was strictly about moving on from the stench of last year’s moribund team. And in that respect I think we succeeded. Culture matters and we changed that here.
At least that is what I took away from the head coach who now owns a 15-34 career record. Yes, the Giants team he inherited was bad, 3-13 bad in fact. It was coming off a quarterback succession PR disaster, accusations of players quitting, and the firing of its head coach and general manager with four games remaining on the schedule. We get it coach, not exactly seashells and balloons.
But, a glass half full type of Giants fan would tell you that Shurmur brought in the best left tackle on the free agent market, Nate Solder. He had Odell Beckham Jr. back from a season lost to injury, and surely the newly minted bazillionaire would flourish under the great play caller. And, he was furnished with an incredible two-way running back from day 1 of his tenure. Saquon Barkley was everything the prognosticators said he would be, and ten times more! Blessed with the ability to run by defenders, run over them, or when all else failed, jump over them, #26 was sensational. So good was Mr. Barkley that between his 261 rushing attempts (1,307 yards) and 91 receptions (721 yards), he handled the rock 352 times with NARY a single fumble! That is friggin amazing!
The team actually began the season playing worse than the Ben McAdoo edition, limping to a 1-7 record halfway through the ledger. For all intents and purposes, the season was over. The ridiculous talk of playoffs after a couple of mid-season wins was just that, as the G-Men were never going to qualify for postseason play. Their 4-4 record in the second half was a product of better offensive line play, an easing up in their schedule, and more of a reliance on the running game (Barkley’s brilliance). Don’t be fooled however, they were pretty much just playing for position in the 2019 draft, which will be #6.
Year one of the Shurmur administration is now in the books. Since the slogan of his first campaign was clearly We’re Not Them, here’s hoping the one he adopts for year two is more along the lines of MY Team Is Going To The Playoffs!
And that is My 2 Sense for January 2, 2019.
Feature photo: Giants.com