*The Giants introduced new head coach Pat Shurmur at a press conference Friday morning: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Pat Shurmur isn't hiding from the fact that he's been given a difficult and challenging job.
"I'm taking over a team that was 3 13, so we've got to own that," said Shurmur, who today was formally introduced as the 18th head coach in Giants history. "There's a lot of work to be done. There's changes that need to be made. But running parallel with this press conference, I'm hiring a staff of guys that will help us get to where we need to be, and I think that's the important piece."
Shurmur, 52, succeeds Ben McAdoo, who was dismissed on Dec. 4, and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo. The head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2011-12, he just completed a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, who last Sunday lost the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia. He was named the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers Association.
A 19-year NFL coaching veteran, Shurmur was one of six candidates interviewed by the Giants.
"We did a considerable amount of research, which included speaking with executives and coaches, past and present, around the NFL and players, as well," Giants president John Mara said. "We were able to identify some great candidates, but it struck me that the name that constantly came up with just about everybody that we talked to was Pat Shurmur. We had some very impressive interviews with six different coaches. We had much discussion back and forth about each of these individuals. We did some more research, and we ultimately decided that Pat was the right man for this job. … We believe that he is the right coach at the right time for this franchise."
Giants chairman Steve Tisch said Shurmur possesses many of the attributes the franchise's leadership wanted in a new coach.
"Confidence, experience, maturity, passion, vision, commitment, optimism and, as he said, you can't plan for anything," Tisch said. "He alluded to an old saying, 'If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plan.' So I think Pat is very open to where he can take this team. He's going to have full support from ownership. I think the players are going to respond to him once they get to spend time with him. They are going to really appreciate and look forward to working with a great leader and a great new head coach."
General manager Dave Gettleman was immediately impressed with Shurmur when he, Mara and assistant GM Kevin Abrams interviewed the coach on Jan. 6 in Minnesota. Later that day, Shurmur had an hour-long phone conversation with Tisch.
"The New York Giants head coaching job is a job for a professional football coach," Gettleman said. "That is what Pat is. He has had a ton of experiences and he has experience as a head coach. He has had a lot of success as an offensive coordinator working with a wide variety of quarterbacks in terms of their skillsets. Through the interview process, we asked Pat what (he) learned through his Cleveland experience. He was very detailed. He obviously was very honest with himself, just like I had to be honest with myself when things didn't go right. He's a very self-aware guy and a very mature guy. He checked absolutely all the boxes for me."
Gettleman said Shurmur and he share a philosophy about building a team.
"There are basic truths and basic facts that don't change," Gettleman said. "You have to run the ball, you have to stop the run, and you have to rush the passer. Pat and I completely agree on that. The other thing is that big men allow you to compete. I've built teams from the inside out. Obviously the quarterback position is critical, but I'm just dropping straight philosophy here and how you approach it. Those are the things that Pat and I completely agree on.
"The other thing that we completely agree on is the importance of culture and how football is the ultimate team sport. We have to put together a roster that is talented but who love the game of football and love to compete. There is a lot of boxes that he and I are on the same page."
Shurmur was asked when in the interview he believed the Giants job was for him.
"As soon as (Gettleman) said, 'Everything starts with the offensive line. And I think there's a great example of that, what we went through in Minnesota. We didn't change the oil up there, we changed the transmission. We went and got two free agent offensive linemen, we drafted a center that played like a veteran, and we transformed the offensive line that helped us do the things that helped us win 14 games (including one in the playoffs). So I think it's very important, no matter how good your offensive line is and your defensive line, you have to address those issues constantly, because if you can't block them and you can't pressure the quarterback, this game gets really, really, really hard. I know that about Dave. I know we have a serious mindset when it comes to doing what we can to upgrade in those areas. And some of it may be just inspiring a player on the roster to play better than he's played, you know, and that comes back to coaching. And then we all know that every once in a while you need to get some new players."
In his opening statement, Shurmur indicated he will be open and accessible – except, of course when he is asked about team matters he believes should be kept in-house.
"You have hired a career coach," he said. "You've hired a guy that doesn't know what he would do if he wasn't doing this. You've hired a guy that wants every day to interact with the staff, the coaches, the players, and I really do feel like my role is to make everybody as good as they can be. And I think if we do that on a day to day basis, we'll get to where we want to be, and that's re-establish the winning tradition and put ourselves in a position to win championships. And I understand that's a journey.
"You're going to try to all figure out who I am. Some would say I'm a little serious. Alright, I get that. But I do think this is a serious business. It's played and coached by adults. We just happen to do it with a young person's enthusiasm, and I think that's important. Some will tell you I have a healthy sense of humor. Those are the people that know me. I'm okay laughing at myself, and I own all that.
"Most people will tell you that I'm competitive and gritty, and that's the overachiever's mindset in me. I feel like we don't know it all, and I look forward to learning something new every day. Those of you that do know me, though, I have zero tolerance for people that don't compete. I have zero tolerance for people that don't give effort, and I have zero tolerance for people that show a lack of respect. And I think that's something that you'll know about me as we get to know each other better."
This is a coach who has no illusions about what he's getting into.
"This is an iconic franchise," he said. "I understand most of the history. I walked by four Super Bowl trophies. I'm looking forward to leading this organization, and I want to be the coach. I understand the responsibility that comes with being the coach."
That's a great start to what promises to be a very fascinating journey.