EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Shurmur Sez, Giants.com’s exclusive weekly interview with head coach Pat Shurmur:
Q: You talked about being reflective on the off weekend following the Thursday night game. Did it help?
Shurmur: “I think so. I think we’re going to continue to do the things necessary to win games and I think it’s important – every team is faced with a Thursday night game, which gives them a long weekend, and I think we took advantage of it, gave our players a chance to get away, not really time off, but time away to reflect. I think what’s important is that we put a plan together to go out and beat Atlanta on Monday night.”
Q: After the Philly game, the media seemed to write off the Giants, although there are 10 games to play. Do you need to monitor that, because the players are going to see it, or do you tell them to just be concerned with the players and coaches?
Shurmur: “We’re players and coaches, and we just stay the course and play the game and do everything in our power to win the next game, which happens to be Atlanta.”
Q: You were asked yesterday about whether you need to personally show the team more fight.
Shurmur: “I think that’s a B.S. narrative. I don’t understand where that comes from. I think the people that ask those questions really don’t know me or how teams function. I think what they’re asking – are they asking for a temper tantrum from the head coach to make it appear like they care? I think that’s B.S.”
Q: Is it more important to be who you are and be genuine in front of the players at all times?
Shurmur: “Be genuine in front of the players. How do they know, how do the people outside this building know that I’m not doing those things behind the scenes? That would be the question I would ask those people that think I haven’t displayed fight.”
Q: You have said several times…
Shurmur: “Listen, don’t misunderstand calm. Don’t misunderstand what calm means. That’s what I’ll tell you, because I think it’s a (bad) question, too.”
Q: You have said several times that you need to score more points. The flipside of that after giving up at least 33 in three straight games…
Shurmur: “We need to give up less. Makes sense. Got to give up less points, we got to score more.”
Q: Eli (Manning) was talking about the offense the other day, saying sometimes it takes time for everybody to get on the same page and gel. Four years ago, which was the first season in a new offense, the Giants played the Cardinals and Bruce Arians said he tried never to judge a quarterback in a new offense until Week 8. You, like he was, are a renowned offensive coach. Is there some validity to that?
Shurmur: “I think it takes time. I’m not a patient man, and certainly I don’t wait on anything for eight weeks, so no.”
Q: What are some of the signs you’ve seen that it is gelling and you are getting better on offense and you are getting close?
Shurmur: “We’ve moved the ball and we’ve gotten in the red zone and we just haven’t – we kicked four field goals the other night (last week vs. Philadelphia). Attempted four field goals. Those have to be touchdowns, so we’re moving the ball in there. We just have to do better at the end of the drives and get the ball in the end zone, so instead of having a maximum of 12 points, you have 28 points. That’s the simple math.”
Q: Is the fact that Eli is completing 69% of his passes a good starting point or is pass completion percentage not a stat you look at?
Shurmur: “No, it’s important when you complete passes. I think it’s important that we also make sure we’re getting the ball to the guys that can make plays and the ball is getting there in a timely fashion and we have to do it earlier in the game.”
Q: Now that (Evan) Engram’s coming back to team with Odell (Beckham, Jr.), Sterling (Shepard) and Saquon (Barkley), do you think you’ll have a better handle on the capabilities of this offense?
Shurmur: “I think the more of our dynamic players that we have in the lineup, the better chance we have to spread the ball around and play good offense.”
Q: Overall this season, you’ve been pretty good on third down. But you had a stretch at Carolina and in the first half of the Philly game when you struggled. Is that a third down issue, or is that a first and second down issue because you’re leaving yourself with third and long?
Shurmur: “No, I think they’re connected in some ways, but regardless if you’re presented with a third down no matter how long you got, you got to make it.”
Q: Saquon has been terrific. You’ve scouted a lot of players in your career. When you first started watching tape on Saquon, did he immediately stand out?
Shurmur: “I think so. We haven’t been disappointed in anything with Saquon. He’s everything we thought we were getting when we drafted him. He’s a young player and he’s going to continue to get better.”
Q: Sometimes coaches say they don’t want to see their running backs leave their feet because it exposes them to potential injury. You ever have those thoughts?
Shurmur: “Guys, when they have the ball in their hands and have the running style that he has, you certainly don’t want guys exposing themselves to injury. But he’s a dynamic player and we certainly talk about being in the air, but I think he’s doing what he can to score.”
Q: You signed wide receiver Bennie Fowler this week and you will need him on Monday night. When you have a situation like that, do you try to give him just what he’s going to need for that game, or do you try to give him a larger dose of the offense?
Shurmur: “No, we get him ready to play the game; he’ll learn the offense through the game plan.”
Q: What did you think of O.V. (Olivier Vernon) in his first game?
Shurmur: “I really had never seen him on the field, and I thought for his first time back and fulltime work, he made an impact on the game. He had some pressure and we were pleased with what he did.”
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants get set for MNF vs. Atlanta
Q: You have five takeaways in six games. Can you do things in practice to help you generate more?
Shurmur: “We practice turnovers all the time and we just need to get more in the games.”
Q: Your punt and kickoff coverage has been very good. Are you disappointed in the return game?
Shurmur: “Obviously, we’re 32nd in the league (with a 2.8-yard punt return average), so we need to make sure we do a better job of catching the ball first and then advancing it.”
Q: Early in the year, you played several teams that were among the best in the league at running the football. The Falcons are among the league’s best passing teams. Is this a different kind of challenge for your defense?
Shurmur: “Can be. They have dynamic receivers, and they try to throw the ball to loosen you up and then run it. It obviously starts with trying to control the line of scrimmage and control the run, and then we’re going to have to do a good job in order to keep them off the scoreboard.”
Q: Are (Julio) Jones, (Mohamed) Sanu, (Calvin) Ridley about as a good a trio of wide receivers as you’ll face?
Shurmur: “Dynamic players, big name guys and every one of our guys has to do a good job covering.”
Q: What do you see from Matt Ryan?
Shurmur: “I see a guy that’s been one of the best quarterbacks in the league since he’s been in the league, and I don’t see any drop off in his play.”
Q: The Atlanta defense has had issues, but they’ve got a lot of good players like (Grady) Jarrett, (Takkarist) McKinley, the corners. What do you see as the strength of their defense?
Shurmur: “I think the scheme itself is good. They do have good players at all levels. They’ve dealt with injuries like all teams, but I think they’ve done a good job of trying to compensate.”