From now on, and for however long it lasts, the Giants are Pat Shurmur’s team.
That may seem like an odd statement, considering Shurmur has been the Giants’ coach since Jan. 22, 2018 and has already coached 18 games going back to last season. But for all practical purposes, Shurmur is at the start of the most important part of his career in New York.
By trusting his gut instincts and making the move to rookie Daniel Jones as his quarterback, Shurmur has officially ended the Eli Manning era and is now figuratively joined at the hip with the former Duke star.
Coaches’ legacies are almost always tied to the relationship with his quarterback, and this will undoubtedly be the case with the Shurmur-Jones alliance.
Shurmur couldn’t coax more than five wins out of Manning’s final act as the starter and didn’t want to delay the inevitable. Just two games into the season – two games and a combined 31 points – Shurmur had seen enough.
And so begins the journey with Jones.
The importance of the move cannot be understated. At any level.
As the Giants move on from Manning after 15-plus seasons as their franchise quarterback, they get to see what they’ve got in Jones much sooner than had been planned. But they will now get a true measure of whether Shurmur is the right coach to lift the franchise out of the muck of the last several seasons.
Shurmur takes no delight in being the one to remove the 38-year-old Manning as the starter, but he seemed like a man much more in control of his own fate in announcing the quarterback change. Shurmur came to the Giants with a reputation for dealing well with quarterbacks, and he now gets to mold Jones from the ground up.
It’s a somewhat similar dynamic that Tom Coughlin had with Eli Manning, although Coughlin had the advantage of making his move to anoint Manning in the coach’s first season. It’s a bit more of a delayed reaction with Shurmur, who had a full season and then some with Manning before deciding he needed to move on.
Shurmur didn’t use broad brushstrokes to describe the overarching theme of what he faces now that he has made the change.
“I’m a little bit like the quarterbacks themselves,” he said. “I sort of stay in the moment. My focus is obviously finishing up our practices. Today, we’re doing Thursday things. Then finishing up our practices and flying to Tampa and playing the game. I stay in the moment on that.”
But there is unquestionably a sea change with the move. The Giants are now Jones' team.
And Shurmur’s team.
The coach also took the unusual step of cutting off his weekly calls with WFAN’s Mike Francesa, a decision that will surely lead some to question whether the coach is thin-skinned and running away from criticism. But Shurmur saw no reason to continue, especially after Francesa called him out for his team’s shoddy 0-2 start during last week’s spot.
“That was an organizational decision not to do that,” Shurmur said. “I wasn’t contractually obligated to do that spot. We did it as a courtesy and out of respect for our relationship with the radio station. We just felt like for a while here, we’ll just put that to bed for a while and just not do it and move forward.”
Enough was enough for Shurmur.
He knows he’ll be judged harshly if the wins don’t come soon, and especially if Jones doesn’t pan out. That’s just the way it is in this league and the way it is with coach-quarterback partnerships. They either work out and lead to long-term success, or they fade away … which is what will happen to Shurmur and Jones if failure lies ahead.
Shurmur expects he and Jones will be here for quite some time.
“I’m here to try to inspire our guys to win,” he said. “There are reasons why teams win and lose. As we move forward here and develop a winning team, it’s going to change.”