New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur may have finished 5-11 in his first year with the team, but that doesn’t mean this was a wasted year.
The Giants turned over their roster at nearly a seventy-percent rate, changed their front office, hired a new coaching staff and hopefully changed their losing culture despite their upside-down record.
“Hell of a game,” said Shurmur after the Giants dropped their season finale, 36-35, to the Dallas Cowboys.
“We kept fighting, as we have all year, and again, we fell victim to that thing we keep talking about, finding a way to win. We’re on the devil’s doorstep of winning, and it slipped away. But as a team, there’s a lot of really good stuff inside of them, we got it out in a lot of the weekends we won games, we didn’t win enough.
“But we’ve got a heck of a lot to build on. The idea was always to go to the playoffs and compete and win the Super Bowl, but part of our deal this year was growing away from what was 3-13 and that locker room’s got a different feel because there’s a lot of different people in that locker room, and we’ve just got to keep building on that and we’ll put ourselves in position to win these games next year and be in a different situation.”
The game experience and the competitiveness that the Giants showed all season has been helpful to the many rookies and young players the team assembled before and during the season. The newness will wear off and the Giants will turn these losses into wins come next season.
“I think the guys in the locker room have got a lot of fight. There’s a lot to learn about a lot of new faces, there’s about 12 guys in there left from last year’s team,” continued Shurmur. “I only worked with one of the coaches before I got here, so there was a lot to learn about everybody, and I know these guys have got a lot of fight in them. The try to do the right things and some of the younger players that played a lot are going to benefit from the adversity that we faced this year.”
The coach assessed the team and likes what he sees. Shurmur is going nowhere, but he’s got to turn this team around. He’s already changed the culture.
“These guys we brought here are all winners, they’ve won every place they’ve ever been. I think it’s important to be able to learn how to fight through adversity,” Shurmur said. “As painful as that sounds, it’s not about how many punches you throw, it’s about how many you take and keep moving. I think that’s part of what this team has.
“We can talk about a play or two here, a play or two there, that’s for the offseason. That’s probably after I visit with you tomorrow, we’ll worry about that then. But I’m good with that locker room. I told the players and it really is true, what we’re going through, trying to grow away from 3-13, this really is 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 things over, we’ll start to see the results that we’re looking for. I think 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.”
Year 2 promises to be less unsettled. The roster, naturally, will undergo more changes, but many of the players that return will be more comfortable and ready to take the next step towards turning the Giants back into winners.