The New York Giants have fired coach Pat Shurmur after the once-proud franchise took a step back by winning four games in a season marked by a franchise record-tying nine-game losing streak.
The Giants also announced Monday general manager Dave Gettleman will return despite seeing the team win only nine games in his two seasons.
Co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch informed Shurmur of the decision Monday, less than a day after the Giants (4-12) failed to play the spoiler role and saw the Philadelphia Eagles beat them 34-17 to win the NFC East.
“Steve and I have had many extensive discussions about the state of the Giants,” Mara said. “This morning, we made the very difficult decision that it would be in the best interest of the franchise that we relieve Pat of his duties. The last three seasons have been extremely disappointing for the organization and our fans.”
Mara said the owners share in the responsibility for the slide, which included a 3-13 record in 2017 and 5-11 in Shurmur’s first season.
“The last two seasons have been a continuation of what has been a very difficult and disappointing period for our franchise,” Tisch said. “It is never easy to part with someone the calibre of Pat. But John and I came to the conclusion that we need a new voice in the coach’s office and made the decision to bring in new leadership.”
The four-time Super Bowl champions have missed the playoffs seven times in eight years.
Mara and Tisch believe in Gettleman. They think he has assembled a good nucleus of young players led by halfback Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones.
“We believe he is the right person to lead us going forward,” Mara said. “Dave has a long record of success. We think he’s capable of putting a great team together and he’s going to get that opportunity. To the extent we need to make changes in personnel or the way we do things, we’re going to discuss that.”
Shurmur had refused to speculate about his future after the game. He felt the franchise, which dates to 1925, was in better shape than when he took over in January 2018. He noted the organization now has salary cap room for free agency and draft picks, including the No. 4 overall selection in 2020.
The Giants’ wins this past season were not impressive. They beat Washington (3-13) twice, Miami (5-11) and Tampa Bay (7-9).
Mara had said before the season he wanted to walk off the field after the final game feeling the team was making progress. He didn’t get what he wanted.
Shurmur came to the Giants after a successful stint as the offensive co-ordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, where he turned Case Keenum from an average player into a star for a year. It was hoped he would revive Eli Manning’s fortunes but it never happened. The two-time Super Bowl MVP was reduced to a backup role when Jones, the No. 6 pick overall in the 2019 draft, was made the starter in Week 3 this season.
The 54-year-old Shurmur’s chances of success were hurt by a bad defence that was constantly making mistakes in the 3-4 front installed by co-ordinator James Bettcher.
This was Shurmur’s second head coaching job. He went 9-23 in two seasons with the Browns, the same record he had with the Giants.
His firing is the Giants’ third coaching change since Tom Coughlin was fired after the 2015 season. Offensive guru Ben McAdoo, who had been hired from Green Bay as a co-ordinator, replaced Coughlin in 2016 and led the Giants (11-5) to their only playoff bid since winning the Super Bowl after the 2011 season.
Things went south the following year. The team went 3-13 and McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were fired in early December, a day after Manning was benched for a game against Oakland, ending his string of 210 consecutive starts. It was a public relations nightmare.
The Giants were expected to make progress this season with Barkley, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, entering his second season and the offence bolstered by a group of talented receivers and tight ends. The line was expected to improve with the addition of guard Kevin Zeitler.
Even the trade of Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland was not seen as a major loss because it would open things up for Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. And it would calm the storm that always seemed to follow OBJ.
An ankle injury in the third week slowed Barkley until near the end of the season, and Engram (foot) and Shepard (two concussions) missed time. Veteran Golden Tate was supposed to help fill in for Beckham but he was suspended for the first four games for using a performance-enhancer.
The defence added two first-round draft picks, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence II and cornerback DeAndre Baker, and linebackers Oshane Ximines, Ryan Connelly and safety Julian Love.
But other than, free agent linebacker Markus Golden, who was outstanding with 10 sacks, and safety Jabrill Peppers, who played well before being injured, the unit did not have enough playmakers. Safety Antoine Bethea and linebacker Alec Ogletree are past their prime.
The Giants lost their first two games with Manning at quarterback and then got a lift when Jones took over and led the team to two straight wins. The season went down the drain with the nine consecutive losses, matching a team mark set in 1976.
In Shurmur’s defence, he never lost the locker room despite the losing. Players said he was positive and consistent.
Critics knocked Shurmur for calling his own plays when he had a co-ordinator, and for failing to make adjustments during games. He also struggled at times with the media, something that never goes over well in the New York market.
Whoever gets the job will need to develop Jones and be able to fix the defence.
Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy is expected to be a candidate, along Baylor coach Matt Ruhle, a former Giants assistant, and Patriots offensive co-ordinator Josh McDaniels. Dallas coach Jason Garrett, a former Giant, might also draw interest if the Cowboys release him.