This loss wasn’t on Shurmur.
But the fact that the Vikings made it to a game within the Super Bowl? Yea, Shurmur played a big role in that. Simply getting to this point should be enough for the Giants to make Shurmur their next head coach.
In fact, Giants fans should be ecstatic that, given everything that Shurmur has had to deal with this year, he did such a masterful job with the Vikings offense. Sunday wasn’t a job interview for Shurmur, his offense’s play over the past 18 games is testament enough to the fact that he deserves this opportunity.
With a third-string quarterback in Case Keenum, Shurmur managed to piece together a Vikings offense that was efficient and, at times, prolific. They limited turnovers, moved down the field well and complimented one of the league’s highest-rated defenses.
That he did so with a quarterback who had 26 career appearances in his previous four years in the NFL is a testament to Shurmur. The praise for a 13-3 record and the franchise’s first playoff win since 2009 rests, in part, in the next Giants head coach’s ability to go with the flow and roll with the punches, adjusting the offense to Keenum’s strengths.
Traits that haven’t exactly been on display over the past two years on the Giants sideline.
One of the criticisms of Ben McAdoo, the Giants previous head coach and a supposed offensive mastermind, was that he wasn’t flexible. He waited too long into the season to switch the offense’s tempo to a quick-read offense in an effort to get the ball out of quarterback Eli Manning’s hands – a decision to help avoid Manning getting slaughtered behind his offensive line. Shurmur proved this year that despite losing Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater for the year, he can adapt and adjust.
A willingness that must be welcomed by Manning, who is still a capable quarterback just two years removed from a Pro Bowl appearance.
And despite having a quarterback with little success in the NFL prior to this season, the Vikings were 10th in points per game and 11th in yards per game this year. The blueprint was similar to the Giants success in 2016 when the defense became suffocating during the final half of the year and the offense was quietly efficient.
It is difficult to fathom that Shurmur could find this success given Keenum’s struggles the prior four years.
That fact that Keenum threw two interceptions and had a completion percentage well below his season average in the NFC Championship Game isn’t a detriment to a quarterback who has been solid all year. And it shouldn’t be enough to scare off the Giants if Shurmur has, in fact, nailed the interview process.
Great coaches have shown the flexibility to tailor their systems and personalities to their locker room. Tom Coughlin did that with his first Super Bowl team here in New York and now Shurmur could be given the same challenge.
He would have to work with an offensive line that needs some serious work and a running game that has been near the bottom of the NFL the past couple of seasons. Throw in some eccentric personalities and an alleged locker room “cancer” and Shurmur would need to hit the ground running.
Not like he didn’t have to adjust plenty this past season in Minnesota.
Based off what he’s shown in Minnesota – given the curveballs thrown his way, the ability to be flexible and achieve some strong results this past year for a playoff team – should be enough to excite the Giants fanbase that they may just have found their head coach in Shurmur.
There should be no second-guessing on this one.