EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Every NFL coaching situation is unique, but when the Giants dismissed Pat Shurmur today after two seasons it was for the same reason hundreds of coaches before him have lost their jobs.
"We just didn't win enough games, and we believe that we have to move in another direction," team president and chief executive officer John Mara said at a news conference. "It's certainly not all Pat's fault, he did a lot of good things here, in particular his role in selecting and training Daniel Jones."
The Giants were 9-23 in two years with Shurmur at the helm, including 4-12 this season, which included a nine-game losing streak and ended yesterday with a 34-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I think we could have won more games, yes," Mara said. "You're playing a rookie quarterback, you're playing all those rookies on the back end on defense. You are going to have some problems but again at the end of the day we just didn't win enough games."
The Giants also announced that Dave Gettleman will continue as the team's general manager, a position he has held for two years. Mara and Steve Tisch, the Giants' chairman and executive vice president, were in agreement that Gettleman should remain.
"The deciding factor," Tisch said, "was when John and I started talking about this literally weeks and weeks ago, assets, liabilities, good news, bad news, and at the end of the day we decided that we were going to jointly make a decision to keep Dave, to work with Dave going forward into the next season."
"Steve and I decided to retain Dave and give him a chance to finish what he has started," Mara said, "which includes so many changes in this organization that people really don't know about. … We felt like we needed to give it a chance to see if it's going to succeed or not. All that being said, we need to win more games, and Dave knows that, and that's going to be the challenge going forward."
Mara was asked why he fired Shurmur but retained Gettleman, who built the roster the coach didn't win with.
"With Dave, I think we've had some hits and some misses (with personnel decisions)," he said. "He implemented so many changes within our organization, we just felt like at this stage to pull the plug on all of that would not be the wise thing to do. I'm excited about what I see in the future for this team because of the young players we have, because of the changes that we're making. With Pat, it ends up being as much a gut instinct as anything else. I just felt like we weren't winning enough games, we weren't winning the games that we should have won, and we just need to go in a different direction."
Neither of the team's owners revealed any of the candidates for the coaching job. But each is confident they will find someone who will lead a renaissance for a franchise that has won just 12 games in three seasons.
"I think the search is going to be fruitful," Tisch said, "and I think we're going to find a terrific number of candidates and the right decision will be made."
"We're going to try to get the best candidates in here that we can, and we're going to try to convince them why this is a good job opportunity for them," Mara said. "We've got a terrific young quarterback, we've got a young roster, we're in the best cap space shape we've been in in many years. There's a lot to this organization that I think would attract a lot of different candidates.
"There well could be college candidates here. I'm really looking for leadership, that's the big thing going forward. Somebody who can come in and take control of this roster, help build a culture that is going to lead to winning. Somebody who is going to help us with our football reorganization during the process we're undergoing right now. We're looking for all those qualities from the next candidate."
Mara said he is "aware" of the perception that Gettleman's presence could have a negative influence on potential coaches.
"I don't have that concern, because I think once they meet him and get to know him that won't be an issue," Mara said. "…I'm going to want somebody that's going to be able to work hand-in-hand with him. Dave and Pat's relationship has been terrific, they worked very well together, there was no personnel decision that has been made here in the last two years that Pat wasn't fully on board with."
Mara was blunt in discussing the franchise's recent record, both in the number of games lost and the inability to find a long-term solution as coach. Since two-time Super Bowl winner Tom Coughlin stepped down after the 2015 season, Ben McAdoo lasted 28 games and Shurmur 32. In his first season, McAdoo led the Giants to an 11-5 record and a wild card playoff berth, the team's only postseason appearance since winning Super Bowl XLVI eight years ago. But he was fired after starting 2-10 the following year. Shurmur won five and then four games.
"We've failed twice in a row now, and you have to keep working at it, try to find the right guy," Mara said. "I'm not convinced that either of the past two coaches couldn't have been successful over a longer period of time, but there comes a point in time when your patience runs out, your gut tells you that you need to make a change, and that's what happened this time."
Mara and Tisch are well aware of the growing unrest among Giants fans as their recent decisions did not produce the desired results on the field.
"I say to the fans I totally understand your frustration, your concern, I read your emails, I get it," Tisch said. "But, John and I make decisions that sometimes may not be popular, may not be supported by the fans, but we're the ones making the decisions, we live by them. It's been a very frustrating three years, certainly the record indicates that, those numbers don't lie. Going forward, John and I want to make sure that those numbers change in the next season dramatically."
For that to happen, they must hire the right coach.