By Nick Shook
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Pat Shurmur couldn’t even get through his expressions of gratitude before the lights went out on him.
Here’s to hoping that isn’t an omen for his career with the New York Giants.
“And we’re off, huh?” Shurmur joked as the lights came back on.
“I watched Eli throw a little bit over the summer and I walked away saying he looked really, really good,” Shurmur said. “He looked fit. He was throwing the ball well. The ball had good velocity coming off his hands. Again, I think he’s got years left. How much? I don’t know. But I think he has time left and I look forward to working with him.”
“I think what’s important is we have a guy here who has helped this organization win Super Bowls. He’s an outstanding player and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
The question came packaged with how the Manning decision would affect New York’s draft strategy. On his first day, Shurmur was understandably noncommittal, saying he and the organization need to go through their evaluation processes before he could provide an adequate answer.
That response was indicative of what Shurmur wasted little time in explaining: This time around, he’s going to be more open with the media. In a city like New York, he’s wise to extend the olive branch before building a 20-foot wall around the Giants‘ facility.
“I learned in my last shot at being a head coach, information travels off your thumbs very quickly,” Shurmur said in the direction of the assembled reporters. “We as coaches needed to learn — in the old handbook, it was say nothing and be very guarded — I don’t feel like that’s necessary anymore. … I get that. I’ll try to be open, I’ll try to answer your questions in really any situation except for those things that involve Giants business that makes no sense to be public.”
Other points from Shurmur’s introductory presser:
On what he learned from his first stab at head coaching: “Everything Cleveland, I wish I knew then what I know now. When you’re doing anything for the first time, there’s things that happened that you adjust to that if you’ve done them before. … Once you’ve done it before, obviously you have the resources … you’ve done the things that you say ‘if I do that again, I’ll never do that again.'”
On Odell Beckham: “[Odell’s] a tremendous player. I went through the evaluation process at the time I was in Philadelphia and he was high on our draft board. We loved him as a player and really pre-draft stuff we loved everything about him. I’ve watched him play and compete and when you throw all the other stuff out and you watch him on the field, he’s outstanding. So it makes sense to throw him the ball, I’m just going to say that right away. If I didn’t acknowledge that, then you’d definitely got the wrong guy up here. What I think needs to happen now is I need to get to know him. I need to get to know what makes him tick and I need to talk to him about what it is that we’re looking for [from] a guy who plays for the New York Giants. I think those are the things that go back to relationship building that need to happen very, very soon.”
On Beckham’s contract, Mara added that the Giants will “get something done at the appropriate time.”
On draft strategy at No. 2: “I’m not ducking that question. We’ve got to travel down that road and see what happens there.”
On defensive coordinator James Bettcher: “I’ve known James for a while and I think he’s a rising star in the profession. They played outstanding defense in Arizona for a very long time. He’s a little bit multiple in his scheme, which I think is good. Everybody I’ve talked to, he inspires the player. He’s got a great presence. We’re really fortunate to have him be with us. Very hard to score against. … He’s had a top-six defense for the last three years.”
On the type of culture he wants to build: “We need to have a tough, gritty team that knows how to compete. I think what’s important is when we put the roster together, we want to first accumulate 90 players that love to play football.”
On fanbase expecting quick turnaround: “I get ‘furious,’ I get ‘quick turnaround.’ I do know that what’s important is we get better every day. With regard to players, if each player swap, so to speak, makes us incrementally better, that’s what we’re looking to do. You eat an elephant one bite at a time, so we’re going to do that. I think what’s important is every day, work toward getting where we need to be. Then it won’t be a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Then we will have established a team that can sustain that over time.”
On in-fighting, managing locker room of personalities: “First off, I admire hwo resourceful people are at getting information, so I don’t really believe there’s any secrets. I think what you do is you start, initially, with the locker room by developing relationships with those guys that love to play football, and you’re constantly talking about what it means to be a good pro. … We as coaches are educators, we work with the players and it’s important that we inspire them to play their very best. Some of that is talking about those types of isues.”
On not being concerned about not calling plays: “No, not at all. I think when you put a staff together, there’s people upstairs, there’s constant communication. The reason we wear headsets is we’re talking to each other. If it was just the head coach and nobody else then I would say yeah, that’s tough. But the way that we’re going to put the staff together, there’s constant communication and we’ll have experienced people in all the roles necessary. It’s been done before, you see teams around the league doing it. Why guys do it and eventually give it up, that’s their decision. It’s football.”