EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Pat Shurmur is not going to change his opinions, demeanor and goals after one loss.
The Giants’ first-year head coach today reiterated what he said after the season-opening 20-15 defeat to the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday. Of course, he is disappointed. But he remains confident in this team and has faith in his players, and believes all errors committed yesterday are correctable.
He has, after all, previously traveled this path. Yesterday marked the 20th consecutive season Shurmur has participated in a Kickoff Weekend game as an assistant or head coach. And though his record is 8-12, Shurmur has been on teams that lost openers and went on to finish 12-4 twice and 11-5.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of first games of the season,” Shurmur said. “You just move forward. That’s the important thing is you move forward. You learn from the mistakes you made, you build on the things you did well and you just keep moving. That’s the important piece. That may get old as we go through these Mondays with me saying that, but you can win a game and still go through that process. When you lose a game, it hurts more, but you still go through the same process.”
After reviewing the game tape and meeting with the coaches, the players were in sync with the head man’s message. The Giants will play their road opener Sunday night in Dallas.
“(The game was) really encouraging,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. “If you look at the game, we were a few plays away from coming out with a different outcome. But guys do a good job around here just bouncing back and kind of brushing it off, and fixing the things we need to fix and I feel like that’s what we’ll do this week. Be ready for Dallas.”
“I think you always look for the positives,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “We went against a good team, a good defense. We had some big plays, we had some opportunities. We got to hit a few more of them. We had a chance to win the game at the end, and we just didn’t quite make enough plays.”
Manning, of course, also has experience in this situation. He started his 14th consecutive season opener and is 5-9. But in each of the two seasons in which the Giants won the Super Bowl with Manning at quarterback, they lost their first game.
“There’s kind of that fine line between hanging your head but not being okay with it,” Manning said. “I thought, obviously, guys were disappointed. I think everybody knows that each one of us individually has to play a little bit better. I think that’s going to push us and drive us to practice smarter, prepare better, and go play better.”
Shurmur will demand it, and take the corrective steps to ensure it happens.
“You’re going to follow the direction of the head coach,” Manning said. “I think he expressed it’s not good enough, but I’m proud of the way you guys fought, competed, and hung in there until the very end, and found a way to kind of stay in the game. Had an opportunity to win it at the end. We just didn’t do it.”
The Giants should improve simply by virtue of having played a game. This is still a team with a new coaching staff teaching a 53-man roster with 30 new players, who are in turn still learning new offensive, defensive and special teams systems. It can take a game for it to become a smooth-running operation.
“When you have new things, new guys, there’s going to be corrections,” Manning said. “They’re going to be adjustments you make in the offense, or things we weren’t ready for or we had to talk about. That’s always going to happen. I think the first game is where those things are going to come up. Things that we’ll be better prepared for next time, and talk about, fix things so we’ll be able to take advantage of it going forward.”
“We all had mistakes that we need to clean up, players and coaches alike,” Shurmur said. “That’s the process you go through really every week, but especially after the first week as we get ready to play Dallas.”
*Manning threw 15 passes to Odell Beckham, Jr., who caught 11 of them for 111 yards in his first game in 11 months.
“We’re going to do that,” Manning said of frequently targeting Beckham. “We want to try to get him the ball. They’re a one-high team (safety). We got a lot of one-on-one coverage. I thought he looked good. I thought he was running well. Ran some great routes, got open, and looked explosive.”
“That’s the way the progressions were going,” Shurmur said. “Fifteen shots to Odell. I think we might be here some day when he doesn’t get that many and you’re saying, ‘Why don’t you throw it to him 15 times?’ Again, every snap was not man (coverage), and so there were some progression-related throws where, on a couple of those underneath throws to Odell, the initial read was maybe Saquon (Barkley) would run a wheel route. It just happens that way, and ideally, all the eligible receivers should get touches. I think that’s an important way to play offense, because I trust all the guys that are out there to make good catches.”
*Shurmur mentioned just one player who came out of the game with an injury, running back Wayne Gallman with a knee.
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