*Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula discussed working with Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Perhaps three days after he was named the Giants' offensive coordinator, Mike Shula met in his office with Odell Beckham, Jr., the one player on the roster who can unnerve opposing defenses like no other.
"We had a nice visit," Shula said today.
Like so many NFL coaches, Shula had admired Beckham's achievements from afar when he was the Carolina Panthers' coordinator. He didn't need that conversation to confirm the obvious – he's excited to have an opportunity to coach the sensational three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.
"You know, God, he's such an explosive player," said Shula, who joined his fellow assistants from Pat Shurmur's staff in speaking to the media for the first time. "We've watched what everyone else has seen what he can do on the field, and I'm really looking forward to being able to work with a guy like that. What you see on the field and talking to the guys that have had to defend him at Carolina, and just how explosive he is and how he can get the ball in the end zone. We're going to try to continue to build on that."
Responding to a follow-up question, Shula said, "I think that he's obviously a vital part of our offense, and when you have guys that can make plays and put points on the board, you want to try to feature them as much as you can. But you also have to realize that you've got other components and hopefully some more as we more forward into the offseason and the draft, where we can put players on the field and we're not going to be predictable. And if teams want to try to take Odell away, then we've got other answers, and good answers."
The Giants will have an interesting situation elsewhere on their offense. They have a first-year head coach/playcaller in Shurmur, and a new coordinator in Shula, who will also coach the quarterbacks this season. And their quarterback is Eli Manning, who is preparing for his 15th year in a Giants uniform.
"It's a different dynamic," Shula said. "I'm getting ready to coach a guy that has great experience, that physically is in great shape, that has won two Super Bowls, won a bunch of playoff games. I've watched him stand at this podium here and answer questions and be able to handle all of those things.
"I can remember going back to a few years back and admiring him for the way he is handling questions, not ever getting too high and too low. We talk to our players about that all the time. Whether or not it's in the game, with the media, when you walk into the building, when you're out of the building, and I think he does that probably better than anybody. That's one of the many reasons why he's had the success that he's had."
Manning played in the same offensive system for the first 10 years of his career under Tom Coughlin, John Hufnagel, and Kevin Gilbride. He then spent four seasons in Ben McAdoo's system. Now he will again change directions with Shurmur and Shula calling the shots.
"I think there are going to be some things terminology-wise that are going to be different," Shula said. "But he's been around and seen a lot and been exposed to a lot. So it's just going to be a matter of he may have called things differently, but it's really the same thing. Or maybe he's been taught to read it a little bit differently. Little things like that, it's just going to take some getting used to. That's why it's important once we get going that we're really clear on exactly what we want to do. I know he's going to pick things up well and lead us in that aspect as far as understanding the whole offense."
Shurmur didn't hire a coach just for the quarterbacks, because he is confident Shula can handle the dual role. Shula is equally certain he can thrive in both jobs.
"I've done it before," he said. "I haven't done it in a while. It's just a matter of managing your time and coach Shurmur is obviously very involved in the offense. I want to be an extension of what he wants us to do, and make sure that everything that comes out of his mouth is echoed by me. And if I have questions or if other coaches have questions or if players have questions, I can be the guy that says, 'Hey, let's make sure we get this and that we're all on the same page here.'
"In regards to coaching quarterbacks as well, time-wise you're going to spend a lot of time together with other positions, and then you break off individually and detail it out by position. Again, since coach Shurmur is involved, it's just a matter of getting back and getting used to it."
Shula will begin to do exactly that on Monday, when the offseason conditioning program begins.