It is something that this team desperately needs, coming off a 3-13 season when the locker room concerns dominated the headlines.
The Giants certainly have had their share of moments off the field over the past year, ranging from a celebrity boat party the week of their Wild Card game two seasons ago to multiple suspensions of star players this past year. Throw in an alleged locker room “cancer” and a fist through the wall of the locker room in Green Bay, and this is a team that in many ways turned on itself and now needs direction.
Direction, and perhaps a little heart and fight.
The Giants folded during much of last season under then-head coach Ben McAdoo, finally showing some backbone over the season’s final month when Steve Spagnuolo took over. As such, a top priority for Shurmur is going to be how to turn around a roster he said has lots of “very talented players” but failed to compete for the playoffs.
Shurmur appears to want players who are sold-out to football, perhaps less concerned about hanging out with celebrities and more focused on the game.
“We need to have a tough, gritty team that knows how to compete. I think what’s important is when we put the roster together, we want to first accumulate 90 players that love to play football. Now, certainly, they’re going to have to have the skill and ability to do it, but we want to put together a group of 90 and then eventually get to 53,” Shurmur said Friday during his introductory press conference.
“I think sometimes the good answer for a young player is, ‘I really don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have this game.’ And I think it’s the absolute greatest game in the world. And so we need to find guys that love to play the game, and then we’ll decide whether they’re good enough, and then we’ll take it from there.”
One of those key players is going to be wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who missed the second half of this past year due to injury.
As talented as any wide receiver in the league, Beckham’s struggles have been with emotions and focus as he enters his fifth year in the league. If he can harness that, he has a bright future. But well-documented distractions and meltdowns have led to a plateauing in his production.
If Beckham can settle in and fully buy into his vast potential, then the sky is the ceiling for the player and franchise. He’s a difference-maker, a play-maker with a unique ability to be clutch and come up with game-changing plays.
“Well, he’s a tremendous player. I went through the evaluation process at the time I was in Philadelphia and he was high on our draft board. We loved him as a player, and really pre‑draft stuff, we loved everything about him. I’ve watched him play and compete, and when you throw all the other stuff out and you watch him on the field, he’s outstanding,” Shurmur said.
“So it makes sense to throw him the football. I’m just going to say that right away. If I didn’t acknowledge that, then you’ve definitely got the wrong guy up here. But I think what needs to happen now is I need to get to know him. I need to get to know what makes him tick, and I get to ‑‑ I need to talk to him about what it is that we’re looking for for a guy that plays for the New York Giants. And I think those are the things that go back to relationship building that need to happen very, very soon.”