BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Pat Shurmur had a cursory conversation with Odell Beckham Jr. over the weekend, but it was enough to get the new Giants coach excited about the upcoming season.
“Obviously, we can just talk about ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ ” Shurmur said on ESPN Radio on Monday morning, speaking of rules that prohibit contact between players and coaches in the offseason. “Nice-to-meet-you stuff. But talking to him, he sounds inspired to get ready to have a really good year, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Beckham is coming off a season in which he missed 13 games with ankle injuries, including one that required surgery after Week 5.
Shurmur and co-owner John Mara both spoke last Friday about wanting Beckham to act more maturely and more in line with what they consider to be the Giants’ standards.
“There is such pride and such history here, I think it’s very, very important that we do what’s right,” Shurmur said on Monday. “The word culture is thrown around a lot, but I think it really just comes down to doing what’s right, competing, giving effort and playing the game with respect. And I’m not saying this in regard to Odell.”
The Giants had many issues off the field and in their locker room in 2017, a season in which Beckham largely was absent. So to say he is the root of all that ails the team would be incorrect.
He is, however, the highest-profile player on the team. With that status comes responsibility. That seems to be the tack the Giants want to take with Beckham, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
As for the other issues that plagued the Giants last season, Shurmur said he wants to stay on top of them.
“I think we bring in the right players and some of that handles itself,” he said. “I like to be involved with what’s going on, I like to know what’s going on. I like to have conversations with players frequently throughout the day. The whole leadership thing, that’s a thing that sometimes it has a definition that is not quite the one I like. Leadership is really just having the courage to do what’s right, and I think that’s the kind of locker room we have. From what I’ve heard, we have a lot of those guys down there. Again, I’m still in the beginning of trying to figure out what went from 11-5 to 3-13, but certainly there are some things we have to work through.”
And once he is allowed to have actual conversations with the players and not cursory chats, Shurmur intends to drill his definition of leadership into them.
“We have to get the players in the building, and certainly as we go through the offseason here, we just continually talk about what’s right and how we’re going to do business,” he said. “We really just have to set the standards and the guidelines. It’s more than just saying ‘follow the rules.’ It needs to be relationship-driven. We have to talk about it. We have to understand not only what we think is right but then help them understand why it’s important so they believe in it as well.”
Shurmur also spoke about the decision the Giants will have to make with the second overall pick in April’s draft and how it may affect the quarterback situation. Shurmur and Giants ownership and management all have said they intend to have Eli Manning back for 2018, but the dynamic of his presence could be altered by drafting a quarterback with that second pick.
“Certainly we’re way too early in the process to talk about what’s going to happen there,” Shurmur said. “We feel really good about Eli. I don’t know much about Davis Webb other than I liked him coming out. With regard to the quarterback position, we’re going to work with the guys who are here and then certainly evaluate if there is a guy worthy of it at the number two pick.”
Shurmur said he knows that’s what the Giants have done in the past when they had such a high pick.
“The one thing I will say is, I was made aware of the history here. The last time the Giants had a number two pick, they picked Lawrence Taylor,” he said. “Then the next time they had a number three pick, they picked Carl Banks. Those are two franchise-changing players. So we’re going to do whatever is best for the team, obviously. I don’t want to sound too cliché-like, but we’re not quite there yet.”