The football part of the three-day voluntary minicamp that concluded Thursday was to introduce the Giants to their playbook. They have new schemes on offense and defense and spent the week nibbling off the first bites of that enormous meal of X’s and O’s.
But there was another part that was perhaps even more important. It was about introducing the Giants to each other.
They came into the event as a group that included some returning players, many new players and lots of new coaches. Pat Shurmur would like to think they are leaving it with a little more cohesion. They began to become a team.
“I think it has been terrific,” Shurmur said of the chemistry he saw evolve in the short period of time. “You come into a new building, you hear stories about the players and situations, things going on. I see a group of guys out here that are very competitive and very prideful. Their attention to detail is great. We gave them really a lot of information and they were able to come out here and execute at a high level, which is tremendous . . . You can tell that these guys care about one another. Now we just have to keep trying to create an environment where these guys keep getting better and better every day.”
The positive atmosphere of the minicamp was a far cry from the dysfunction that marked the end of last season. That toxic environment was one of the things that Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman wanted to change when they took over. They weren’t focused on rebuilding only the roster; they wanted to rebuild the locker room.
It’s too early to judge how successful they have been with those pursuits, but in terms of attitude, they seem headed in the right direction.
“It’s definitely a process,” second-year tight end Evan Engram said of the team’s budding team-ness. “We’re just diving into this playbook and just getting things going, but we came out here and we competed together, we had fun together, we kept guys injury-free, so it was definitely a good three days of working together and starting to put this thing together.”
Shurmur had fun, too.
“Quite frankly, that stuff we do inside, it’s necessary,” he said of meetings and training and planning and everything else about football that isn’t about football. “My real joy is when I’m out here with the players.”
From here, the Giants will continue with their offseason schedule. They’ll begin Phase Two next week. The weekend after that, they’ll hold their rookie minicamp, which will include the draft picks selected Thursday night and the coming days. Then they’ll be folded in.
“I really do believe that after these three days, when these three days are over, we’re going to be a much better team,” Shurmur said of the draft. “We’re going to make really, really good picks that are going to make our team better.”
Then the Giants will begin organized team activities and cap the offseason program with a mandatory minicamp in mid-June.
As for this just-concluded minicamp, it’s one of the few spoils that comes from a forgettable 2017 season. Teams with a new head coach are allowed the second minicamp, and the Giants qualified for that.
Shurmur said he hasn’t had much experience with such perks. “But I can tell where this is going to be really, really valuable for the guys,” he said. “This was a really good three days. I think our team got better.”