Pat Shurmur Hire Means Little for Giants Without Major Overhaul of Offense

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 22, 2018

FILE - In this Dec. 31, 2017, file photo, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur stands on the field before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, in Minneapolis. One of the reasons the Vikings have blossomed into a Super Bowl contender this season is the influence of offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who has become a hot candidate for several open head coach vacancies around the league. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn, File)
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

On paper, it's hard to take issue with the New York Giants' decision to make Pat Shurmur the 18th head coach in franchise history.

Players tend to like playing for Shurmur, who is a quarterback guru. And that profile is all the rage these days, because it's almost impossible to win without locker room harmony and strong play under center. 

But Shurmur takes over a team led by a 37-year-old quarterback who was the league's eighth-lowest-rated passer in 2017, and an offense that ranked 31st in points per game.

Eli Manning's prime is ancient football history. His rate-based numbers have generally declined in back-to-back non-Pro Bowl seasons, and the Giants have won zero playoff games in the last six years. 

They haven't scored more than 30 points since December 20, 2015. That's a 35-game span, including the playoffs, and Manning and superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. were active together in 21 of those affairs. 

Shurmur will be tasked with fixing that, but the new cook simply needs better ingredients. He needs to get his hands on a new quarterback, preferably one born at least a decade after Manning. He needs balance from an offense that hasn't featured a 1,000-yard rusher since 2012. He needs an offensive line with a shred of continuity. 

In other words, the short- and long-term fate of the Giants is primarily in the hands of new general manager Dave Gettleman. He's shopping for the groceries. He's the guy who'll have to decide whether or when to draft a quarterback, what to do with impending free-agent offensive line starters Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg and who to bring in to compete with Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman in the backfield.

The Giants need a makeover, plain and simple.

It's encouraging that when Shurmur was the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator in 2013, he helped Nick Foles make the Pro Bowl, and that he ran the Minnesota Vikings offense when Sam Bradford and Case Keenum put together career years in 2016 and 2017, respectively. But Manning and those quarterbacks are on opposite sides of 30, and Shurmur's best three seasons as an offensive coordinator came in years in which he benefited from top-10 running games (2013, 2014, 2017). 

If the Giants continue to roll with Manning, pay a premium to keep the injury-prone Pugh and/or Richburg, fail to upgrade on bust offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, fail to add talent at the running back position and fail to give Beckham more support before his rookie contract expires in a year, Shurmur won't survive his five-year contract. 

They need quarterback options beyond Manning and second-year third-round pick Davis Webb (Keenum? Foles? Bradford? Teddy Bridgewater? Kirk Cousins? A first-round rookie?). They need running back options beyond Darkwa, Gallman and Paul Perkins, and they need as many as four new offensive linemen. 

That offense has become stale, and there isn't an offensive magician out there who can change that without a proactive, hawkish overhaul from above. Just ask the Cleveland Browns, who without the right ingredients went 9-23 with abysmal offensive numbers under Shurmur's tutelage in 2011 and 2012.

     

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012.

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