The Pat Shurmur Watch has moved into the “we’ll just have to wait and see” phase.
Those were the words Shurmur himself used to describe his tenuous hold on his job after Monday night’s 23-17 overtime loss to the Eagles, a ninth consecutive defeat for the Giants. The good news? It shouldn’t be that long of a wait.
The season ends on Dec. 29, and there is little indication that Shurmur will be able to do anything in that time frame to sway what ownership is thinking about his performance or his future with the team. The Giants will almost certainly wait until after the finale, a home game against the Eagles, to make their intentions public. But that doesn’t mean decisions haven’t already been discussed and perhaps even made.
Which is why Shurmur, for the first time in this long and dreadful season, seemed to have something close to a hint of resignation over his fate once he left the field in Philadelphia. His arguments to remain with the team have been made in principle, now it’s just a matter of how low the final record of his second season winds up sinking.
The Giants are 2-11. They haven’t had a season with two or fewer wins since 1974 when they went 2-11-1. Even the team in 1976 that lost nine straight – a franchise record for futility that had stood unmatched until these Giants came along and could be surpassed on Sunday if the Giants lose to the Dolphins – won three of its last five to finish at 3-11.
The last Giants coach to win four games or fewer and keep his job the next season was Bill Parcells, who went 3-12-1 his first year at the helm in 1983. This does not bode well for Shurmur.
But on Tuesday, Shurmur’s key card worked. So, no matter what he was feeling about his future, he did too.
“We have to do everything in our power to make these games as meaningful as possible,” he said of the last three lines on the schedule, “and that means getting wins.”
It’s unlikely to alter anything that comes on or after Dec. 29.
Shurmur declined to speak on behalf of ownership and management regarding any impatience, frustration or disgust they might be feeling these days.
“We’re all here, we’ve got the same focus to win a game and then win the next game,” Shurmur said on Tuesday. “You just keep fighting and do the very best you can to win the next game. I sense that’s the mood in the building, but if you’re curious about that and how ownership is feeling, that’s obviously a better question for them.”
When co-owner John Mara walked out of the locker room at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night, he was literally baring his teeth in anger. This was the worst Giants collapse in a game (they led 17-3 at halftime) since they allowed a 21-3 lead to slip away for a 25-24 loss in Jacksonville in 2014. Mara has said after that game he sat in the front seat of the bus and stewed, thinking two words to himself: “Fire everybody.”
He didn’t then, not for another year anyway. But that coach and general manager had won two Super Bowls. Shurmur has won seven games in 29 tries.
Now he’s got three more. Maybe more. Maybe less.
“I’ll continue to say that I see improvement, but it means very little until we start winning games,” he said. “You just stay positive and you just keep working with the players. This is what we do as coaches, is we coach. I understand the numbers. I get it. I get all that. But you just try to keep inspiring the players to play.”
Until someone from above tells you to stop.
Notes & quotes: Shurmur had no update on G Kevin Zeitler’s ankle injury suffered in the fourth quarter of the Eagles game. Zeitler was inadvertantly leg-whipped from behind and left the stadium in a boot and on crutches. He underwent further evaluations on Tuesday . . . Shurmur stood by his decision to not call a timeout with about 40 seconds left in regulation with the Eagles facing a fourth-and-1, but rather wait until there were 19 seconds remaining to do so. “What I thought was going to happen happened,” Shurmur said of the Eagles eventually punting and the Giants taking a knee with 10 seconds left to go into overtime. “It was just trying to dictate a little bit what they might do.” The Eagles won the overtime coin toss and scored a touchdown, so the Giants never got the ball back.