How and why Pat Shurmur became the Giants' coach

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Pat Shurmur’s head-coaching tenure for the New York Giants is underway. His introductory news conference Friday provided insight into how he landed the job, what he brings to the table and how he intends to operate.

There is more to the former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator than what is etched on his resume. He’s more than just an X’s and O’s quarterback guru.

Most of the key pieces in the Giants' decision-making process were made available Friday to explain how this went down and what they’re getting. The key points:

The interview

This is where Shurmur made his move. He wasn’t the headliner entering the process. He quickly moved himself near the top of the list when he met with Giants brass in Minnesota during the Vikings’ bye week.

“He gave as good an interview, and I’ve interviewed a lot of coaches in my time," co-owner John Mara said. "That’s about as good an interview as I’ve ever been involved with.”

What exactly was so impressive that Shurmur moved into the mix with New England coordinators Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels?

“He just was so professional. His philosophy on building a team. When he said, ‘You have to be able to block them,’ that is something that hit home with me,” Mara said. “Obviously, we’ve had our issues there.”

New general manager Dave Gettleman was equally impressed, to the point that he wrote “adult” on the top of his notepad during the interview. For Gettleman and football guys in search of a CEO and leader, that is the ultimate compliment.

This was more important than ever to the Giants after their implosion (including in the locker room) this past season.

“The interview was outstanding. He was straightforward, he was honest. There was no nonsense,” Gettleman said. “Again, I hate to keep saying it, but for me, he was a professional. That’s really important.”

It was integral in helping Shurmur land the job.

Congruous philosophies

The Giants hired Gettleman before the New Year. The general manager was in place before the coaching search. The belief in league circles is that pretty much took them out of the running for either Patriots assistant. The Giants needed someone who wanted them and would mesh well with Gettleman.

Shurmur fit the bill in both categories.

“It also became apparent to us very early on that Pat and Dave share a similar philosophy in how to build a team, and that was no small factor in this decision,” Mara said. “So, in sum, he checked all of the boxes for us. For all of these reasons, we believe that he is the right coach at the right time for this franchise.”

Shurmur made it clear from the start that he wanted the Giants, even though he had interviews with the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. He was the Giants' No. 1 choice.

During the interview he quickly realized working with Gettleman might be a natural fit.

“As soon as he said, ‘Everything starts with the offensive line,’” Shurmur said. “And I think there's a great example of that, what we went through in Minnesota. We didn't change the oil up there, we changed the transmission. We went and got two free agent offensive linemen, we drafted a center that played like a veteran, and we transformed the offensive line that helped us do the things that helped us win 14 games.

“And so I think it's very important, no matter how good your offensive line is and your defensive line, you have to address those issues constantly because if you can't block them and you can't pressure the quarterback, this game gets really, really, really hard. I know that about Dave. I know we have a serious mindset when it comes to doing what we can to upgrade in those areas.”

That should be music to Giants fans’ ears.

Attitude

The Giants already added a no-nonsense general manager. A no-nonsense coach made sense.

“Those of you that do know me, though, I have zero tolerance for people that don't compete,” Shurmur said. “I have zero tolerance for people that don't give effort, and I have zero tolerance for people that show a lack of respect. And I think that's something that you'll know about me as we get to know each other better.”

This is especially vital given the state of the Giants locker room. What other team had three players suspended during the season because of their conduct? None.

Near the top of the Giants brass’ list of characteristics for their head coach was a leader of men. They saw that in Shurmur.

“I don’t think there was a lack of maturity with earlier teams, with earlier leadership, but Pat just seems to command the room,” co-owner Steve Tisch said. “He’s extremely intelligent. I think the experience speaks for itself. He’s extremely charismatic, and I think listening to him, you watch him, get a sense of his body language, his commitment; he’s a leader. And I don’t think he’s going to be sensitive to criticism from anybody -- from the press, from his players, from ownership.”

Shurmur fervently stated he will not be intimidated by the size of the New York market or enormity of the job. Only time will tell, but the (way too early) returns are positive. He handled the lights going out in the first minute of his press conference with ease. He handled the questions and demands with grace all while seemingly being himself.

The offense

None of this would have mattered if Shurmur wasn’t a quality coach. His work with quarterbacks (specifically noted by ownership), his X’s and O’s knowledge and ability to call plays earned him this second opportunity as a head coach.

Shurmur went 9-23 with the Cleveland Browns and wishes he knew then what he knows now. He has since worked under brilliant offensive minds such as Chip Kelly and Norv Turner.

Shurmur doesn’t bring with him any old West Coast offense. His offense is different.

“I think we have an offense that we're going to constantly try to do the things that our players can do well,” said Shurmur, who intends to call plays even after he hires an offensive coordinator. “So once we quickly learn what our players are good at, then we'll [see] ‑‑ but I do have a West Coast background. My last three years in Philadelphia I was with Chip Kelly, and so the tempo and being able to play fast, there's advantages to using that strategically. When you can run the ball like we did this year -- and we developed a core set of runs-- then the play-actions are meaningful, and that's how you can drive the ball down the field. So, [we'll] try to use all those things.

“And then when they're trying to destroy our quarterback, certainly the screen game is something that's very important. So I don't know. I don't know if there's a label for it. We want to play good offense. We want to play New York Giants offense.”

Makes sense considering he’s the New York Giants head coach now.