Pat Shurmur’s first message to the Giants was about growth. And in a specific direction, too.
“We want to grow away from basically what happened a year ago, the 3-13 season,” Shurmur said of the overarching tone of his meeting with the players on Monday, the first day of the voluntary offseason workout program. “We want to grow away from that and try to grow into a team that’s competing to win a division, compete in the playoffs, and then hopefully hold up that fifth Lombardi Trophy.”
That change in course already has taken place during the roster-building portion of the plan with the addition of free agents who bring a wealth of experience and leadership and the departure of some who were integral to past failures.
Monday was the first time these new Giants were together (mostly), and Shurmur made certain he struck the right notes.
“It just gives us an opportunity to work with the players again and set a new direction heading into 2018,” Shurmur said.
That was felt by the players returning from the forgettable 2017 season. Safety Landon Collins described Shurmur and the mostly new coaching staff as “very stern, very serious, ready to get to work, excited to be back and ready to put this all together and ready to win some more football games.”
“You just clear the slate,” Collins said. “Everything that happened back then, you just let it roll over and it’s in the back of your mind, but it’s a new team, new year, new guys, new faces and we’re just ready to get this party on the road.”
Said Eli Manning: “Everybody is obviously excited to get back together as a team and kind of see the direction that we’re going. I think Coach Shurmur did a great job of just talking about the focus on getting better and everybody being here together and learning and getting things kind of squared away on playing better football. I think that’s the mindset. You saw his enthusiasm, his excitement to have the guys back in the locker room, and I think you felt it with the players also with being here and excited about getting better and winning more football games.”
Manning said he was glad to see a high attendance rate for the first day of these voluntary events, attendance that included Odell Beckham Jr.
“Right now you can kind of come in and coaches can take it slow a little bit and you’re learning,” Manning said. “You ask questions and you can kind of all learn it together, which is good. When guys start missing these meetings and these workouts on the field and stuff, you get behind and then you have to re-teach it, you’ve got to slow things down again for guys to catch up.”
Shurmur shared that sentiment.
“We understand how this is structured here in the offseason, but it’s certainly important,” he said of the voluntary nature of the workouts. “In my mind, it’s important for everybody to be around so they can hear it, learn it and then do it together. This is the ultimate team game and we need to work together because it’s important that we are all on the same page as we move toward the fall.”
The fall is still a long time away. For now, the Giants are one day into it. But it’s an important day.
“That’s what we’re trying to do is just try to get better one day at a time,” Shurmur said. “I think it’s important for all the players to understand that getting better by themselves [is good], but it’s just as important for us to get better together.”