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Pat Shurmur determined to change New York Giants’ losing culture

It feels like just yesterday the New York Giants took down Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for the second time in four years, hoisting Lombardi Trophy No. 4 and re-establishing themselves as one of the NFL’s most successful franchises.

In reality, the Giants won Super Bowl XLII more than a decade ago and Super Bowl XLVI nearly nine years ago, and little has gone right since then.

The Giants have had just two winning seasons since 2011 and five losing seasons, including a franchise-worst 3-13 in 2017. That, of course, comes on the heels of eight consecutive non-losing seasons under former head coach Tom Coughlin.

The desire for that sort of success drives current Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, who is knee deep in his first season with the team. He is determined to change the team’s recent losing culture and return them to one of the staples of the National Football League.

“The takeaway is, and I told the team this — I’ll keep the swear words out of it — some people are fond of talented people, some people are fond of smart people, I’m fond of tough, resilient people,” Shurmur told reporters after an overtime victory against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. “When you’re trying to flip culture, when you’re trying to build something, you’ve got to really dig in on that. There was some toughness and some resiliency. It would have been easy to cave when they came back, an 8-3 team, came back and tied us up, they had a little bit of juice, a little bit of mojo, but our guys found a way to put points on the board and then stop them at the end. I’m fond of toughness and resiliency, and our team showed that today.”

There was a level of resiliency with the Giants in Week 13. A year ago, the team wouldn’t have found themselves in a position to win, let alone fighting back to take the lead and then not giving up after Chicago tied the game in the final second of regulation.

“I really felt like we were going to get the ball and score, and we did that. It’s like the people that were ‘woe is me’ at the fact that we were up by eight at halftime against the Eagles a week ago. That’s not the feeling I had,” Shurmur added. “I really felt like we were going to win this game, and I’ll say it again: If we play football the right way, I really feel like we can beat anybody we play. Until somebody can show me different, I’m going to always believe that.”

Shurmur isn’t just spouting the message, either. He’s living it and his players are feeding off of it.

“I think that’s the whole shift they’re trying to make is a winning culture and so winning games I think is doing that, but I think more than that is being a really solid team after a season that’s been so tough, number of wins we’ve had and how close we’ve lost and all those sort of things and it speaks to the resiliency of the guys, it speaks about the type of guys we have in the locker room and we just got to keep doing it and moving forward and believing in each other and doing it together,” offensive tackle Nate Solder said.

Defensive captain Landon Collins, who continues to play through a shoulder injury, shared similar sentiments and noted that unlike in 2016, this group of 53 refuses to quit no matter what. That in and of itself speaks volumes about what Shurmur is preaching here.

“Yea, we don’t give up. Even though our record is what it is, these guys don’t give up and I love that about us,” Collins said. “We harp on finishing the game. When we are supposed to finish the game, you just get off the field and do things the way they are supposed to be done.”

Even rookie running back Saquon Barkley, who hasn’t experienced the struggles and identity confusion of the Giants in recent years, has sensed a change occurring throughout the season.

“We’ve been on the other side of this situation and the message at halftime was ‘come out, play for each other, and come out and finish the game.’ We started fast in the first half and we started fast in the second half. It took an extra quarter but we got the job done,” Barkley said.

The change in East Rutherford may not have happened as quickly as some would have liked, but it is occuring before our very eyes. Brick by brick, stone by stone the Giants are rewiring their brains and it’s paying dividends on the field.

“Just to be a professional, prepare well and do the right things. It means taking what you have learned in the classroom to the field. Like I said, things are going to be tough sometimes and you have to be able to keep fighting there and keep standing there and do your job at the highest level that you can. When you do that, it definitely changes the culture around here and it gets guys around here to play well,” linebacker Alec Ogletree said.

There won’t be a miracle finish in 2018, but the Giants are gaining a lot of wisdom and a lot of confidence they can carry over into 2019.

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