Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Coach Pat Shurmur hasn't shown that he can lead Giants in the future

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur stands on the

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur stands on the sideline during the first half against the Chicago Bears in Chicago on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. Credit: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast


Will the Giants fire Pat Shurmur as their coach after this season? I don’t know. Should the Giants fire Pat Shurmur as their coach after this season? I don’t know.

But I do know this: Fans are fully within their rights to ask the team’s management and Shurmur himself what he has shown to give them confidence that he is the man for the job into the early 2020s.

Because for the moment, the answer is this: Not enough.

Sunday’s 19-14 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field was not by itself an indictment.

The Bears were favored, the Giants’ young, maligned defense put up an impressive fight, and after a sluggish start, quarterback Daniel Jones and the offense showed late signs of life to make a game of it.

Jones’ 23-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate late in the fourth quarter was a thing of football beauty, and another sign the Giants might have a keeper in the rookie.

None of that, though, erased the bottom line, which is a 2-9 record, a seven-game losing streak and the first time in the history of a franchise founded in 1925 that the Giants were winless in both October and November.

And there’s this: Shurmur is 17-43 in his career as an NFL head coach. That’s a .283 winning percentage. He has not won more than five games in a season and almost surely will not in this one.

So it’s on to December, when it will be more than fair for fans to want to see something — ANYTHING — in order not to demand a change come January.

Up next are the Packers. Oops. OK, after that come the Eagles. Hmm. OK, fine, fast-forward to Dec. 15 and 22, when the Giants get the Dolphins at home and the Redskins on the road.

If the Giants enter Week 17 at 2-13 or 3-12 after going 5-11 last season, with what is guaranteed to be their sixth losing season in seven years, bound for their fifth top 10 draft pick in six years . . . how can ownership expect fans to take their current plan seriously in the coming offseason?

Jets ownership backed Adam Gase earlier this month when all seemed lost, and now his team is on a roll. So football, like life, can change quickly. But for the Giants, losing has become far too predictable under Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman.

It does not help the cause that Shurmur’s public demeanor fails to inspire confidence. As Bill Belichick has proved many times over, charisma at postgame news conferences is not essential for success.  But when you are 17-43, fans appreciate some sort of fire from the leader of their men, rather than shrugs.

Look, Shurmur was not dealt an easy hand this season. He has a rookie quarterback learning on the job and a $23 million backup eating salary-cap space on the bench.

He has young players all over the field. On one key third-and-goal play by the Bears in the third quarter, there were three rookie defensive backs on the same side of the field. (They made the stop.)

Saquon Barkley got hurt and came back a different player. Sunday was his latest meh outing, as he rushed 17 times for 59 yards and dropped a key early pass.

Barkley said he has told teammates, “These are going to be the moments we appreciate, because when we do get this thing turned around, which I do believe will be very soon, we’re going to laugh at moments like this.”

The Jones/Barkley Giants might well get the last laugh in the coming decade. Stranger things have happened. But over the next month, it is time for their boss to give us at least a hint that he is the man to lead them there.

New York Sports