Pat Shurmur Fired by Giants, Finished with 9-23 Record After 2 Seasons

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2019

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 30:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)   Head coach Pat Shurmur of the New York Giants in action against the Dallas Cowboys on December 30, 2018 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Cowboys defeated the Giants 36-35.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The New York Giants have fired head coach Pat Shurmur, the team announced Monday morning.

Team president John Mara said in a statement:

"[Chairman Steve Tisch] and I have had many extensive discussions about the state of the Giants. This morning, we made the very difficult decision that it would be in the best interest of the franchise that we relieve Pat of his duties. The last three seasons have been extremely disappointing for the organization and our fans. Pat has been a successful and highly-respected NFL coach for 21 years and he is not solely responsible for our record. But we came to the conclusion it is best to have a fresh start with the coaching staff. We very much appreciate how much Pat has done for this franchise. He is a man of character and integrity and the team has conducted itself with pride and professionalism.

"As owners, we take full responsibility for our recent poor record. It is our goal to consistently deliver high-quality football and we will do everything in our power to see that there is a rapid and substantial turnaround."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport was first to report the news.

Tisch added:

"The last two seasons have been a continuation of what has been a very difficult and disappointing period for our franchise. It is never easy to part with someone the caliber of Pat. But John and I came to the conclusion that we need a new voice in the coach’s office and made the decision to bring in new leadership.

"We understand how frustrated our fans are. They expect more from us and we expect more from ourselves. Our focus now is on developing and improving our football team so that our fans can enjoy the winning team they expect and deserve."

Shurmur compiled a 9-23 record in two seasons with the team, including a 4-12 mark in 2019 that ended with a 34-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

ESPN's Jordan Raanan reported Dec. 26 his job security appeared to be shaky as the team prepared for its season finale against the Eagles:

"Tisch and John Mara have declined multiple opportunities over the past month to offer votes of confidence for Shurmur and [general manager Dave] Gettleman. That's not a great sign. It leaves open the possibility of significant changes to the organization for the second time in three years. ...

"It seems he is in need of a miracle to make it to the third season of his five-year deal. Would three straight wins, including one Sunday that could knock the Eagles out of the playoffs, qualify? Especially if [Daniel] Jones produces his fifth game this season with at least four touchdown passes or his second straight game with five?"

Like his predecessor, Ben McAdoo, Shurmur is the victim of circumstance to some extent.

When McAdoo replaced Tom Coughlin as head coach, the team had put together three straight losing seasons and hadn't yet formed a succession plan for Eli Manning.

After helping get the Giants to the playoffs in 2016, things quickly took a turn for McAdoo. He benched Manning following a 2-9 start, telling NBC Sports' Peter King he thought it made more sense to give younger quarterbacks an opportunity.

New York fired McAdoo in December 2017, by which time Manning had become the starter again.

Shurmur, who was the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator, was hired in January 2018 as the Giants still clung to the hope of contending for the playoffs.

After winning five games in 2018, however, the franchise could no longer ignore the obvious. New York selected Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft and made him the starter for their Week 3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

All of that was to say Shurmur came aboard when the Giants weren't fully rebuilding but clearly transitioning to a new era—a process that is bound to have some bumps in the road.

Jordan Raanan @JordanRaanan

The move from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones ends Eli’s almost 15-year run as the starter. Pat Shurmur said in a statement that “ultimately this is a move that I felt was best for this team at this time.” Giants are 8-26 since ‘17. Something needed to change. Rebuilding w/rookie QB

That should've afforded him some patience from the front office and ownership.

Gettleman expressed no reservations with Shurmur's hiring in January 2019:

"None at all. If anything, it reinforced my feeling about him when we went through the interview process. It was the steadiness. It was the message. We were 1-7 and we had two practices during the bye week ... I wish you could've seen the way Pat and the coaches kept everybody on task. We're going in the right direction. Understanding that to a certain degree, maybe we are the little engine that could. We kept pushing that thing up the hill."

Teams have shown recently, though, they aren't afraid to quickly move on from a coach despite seemingly showing a firm long-term commitment. The Arizona Cardinals fired Steve Wilks after one season. Adam Gase had three years with the Miami Dolphins, and Vance Joseph was out following his second year with the Denver Broncos.

The level of parity in the NFL gives franchises a level of confidence—not unwarranted—that their fortunes can change drastically in a short amount of time.

The Los Angeles Rams fired Jeff Fisher amid a 4-12 campaign in 2016. Two years later, Sean McVay had them in the Super Bowl. The Los Angeles Chargers won nine combined games between 2015 and 2016, Mike McCoy's final two years. They hired Anthony Lynn, who guided them to 12 victories and the playoffs in 2018.

Perhaps a new voice in the locker room will be able to maximize the talent on the Giants roster in a way Shurmur couldn't.

The Jones era started brightly as the Giants won in each of his first two starts. Then came a seven-game losing streak. The New York Post's Paul Schwartz argued in November that Shurmur had little to show in terms of progress:

"Other than the development of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, there is not much to serve up in a chafing dish to leave any Giants fans nourished with the thought that status quo is the way to go. Shurmur on Monday went about his usual day-after breakdown of the latest failure to win a game, an offensively challenged 19-14 loss to the beatable Bears, a routine he could detail in a doctoral thesis without ever running out of fresh material."

TheGiantsWire @TheGiantsWire

Pat Shurmur says Giants are improving behind the scenes. We can't see it at all, but trust him... It's really happening. He guarantees it.

As Gettleman starts building a list of candidates to replace Shurmur, Jones' development is likely to be the top priority.

The former Duke star is the Giants' guy going forward. If he ultimately isn't the franchise quarterback, it will be a big setback in their plan for a return to contention.