Pat Shurmur has set an ego-less tone for the Giants by retaining some solid assistant coaches from Ben McAdoo’s previous staff, rather than simply cleaning house because they’re not ‘his guys.’
And Shurmur also said something about offensive coordinator Mike Shula’s role in Thursday’s official release announcing the Giants’ full new staff that embodied the team-first culture the coach is trying to create.
“He’ll assume all the roles that any offensive coordinator would have,” Shurmur said of Shula, “and he’d obviously be in position to call it, if need be.”
Shula call plays? Well, no. That’s the plan. Shurmur said on Jan. 26, the day he was officially introduced as head coach, “I do plan to call the plays, yes.” And Shurmur, therefore, didn’t have to leave the door open that Shula could take over the offense in a game at some point. He could have marked his turf, drawn a line in the sand, said nothing at all.
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But he didn’t. He left open the possibility that, depending on the situation or opponent or how full Shurmur’s plate gets, that sure, Shula could end up with the play sheet on occasion.
It’s simply a softer tone to a conversation that can quickly get out of control when seasons go south. Just ask Ben McAdoo.
McAdoo, through 2016 and early 2017, often vehemently defended his ability to call plays in games and continue managing the big picture as a head coach, as well. No doubt any coach at this level knows his stuff and takes pride in his area of expertise, but by the time McAdoo relinquished play-calling duties to OC Mike Sullivan in Week 6 at Denver last season, the Giants were already 0-5 and it was too late.
Now Shurmur, McAdoo’s successor, will attempt the same juggling act of simultaneously calling plays and running the entire team. It might work; it might be too much. It just seemed significant on Thursday that Shurmur wasn’t scared of the potential that it might be necessary for him to ask for some help sometime down the road.
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Plus, while Shula was the Giants’ Plan B behind Vikings QB coach Kevin Stefanski — who was blocked from interviewing by the same Vikings team that lost its offensive coordinator, Shurmur, to the Giants — Shurmur said he has “known Mike a very long time” and that the two men “share a vision” on how to run an NFL offense.
Shula, therefore, will play a primary role in devising game plans, as well as working with the QBs.
“He’s done an outstanding job developing and working with quarterbacks,” Shurmur said of Shula in the team release. “He was the offensive coordinator of a team that was recently playing in the Super Bowl. They’ve done an excellent job on offense in Carolina. We share a vision in terms of what we want to do offensively. We’re excited that he’ll be with us. He’ll be the offensive coordinator and also work with the quarterbacks.”
Shurmur said most of the coaches have been working in the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for weeks and that the entire staff will be here by the end of the week. He retained the entire strength and conditioning staff led by head strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman.
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“We’ve been working on offense and defense, even though we haven’t been full,” Shurmur said. “I’ve been directing the offensive part of it, as I will be involved throughout. And certainly they’ve been going on defense and special teams. I’ve been through this and when you’re a new coach, the process of putting together your initial staff is time-consuming. There are many, many excellent coaches out there, but you want to try to bring in the right guys that fit.”
Here is the full list of Shurmur’s Giants staff, with their ages, previous stops in parentheses, and Shurmur’s Thursday comments sprinkled in. Ten coaches are new, and six were here last season on McAdoo’s Giants staff.
“We’re thrilled to announce our coaches,” Shurmur said. “They’re all excellent people, career coaches, guys who have had success in the profession developing players. We’re excited to have them here at the New York Giants.
“Some of the coaches I have a history with, some were on previous staffs here, and other coaches are guys I’ve known through the profession. I took a good look at some of the coaches that were here, and we certainly wanted to make sure that some of the really fine coaches that were in the building a year ago had an opportunity to stay.”
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Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: Mike Shula, 52 (Carolina Panthers)
Wide receivers: Tyke Tolbert, 50 (Denver Broncos)
Offensive line: Hal Hunter, 58 (Cleveland Browns, 2016)
Running backs: Craig Johnson, 57 (Giants holdover)
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Tight ends: Lunda Wells, 35 (Giants holdover)
Assistant O-line: Ben Wilkerson, 35 (Chicago Bears)
Offensive assistant: Ryan Roeder, 38 (Giants holdover).
Defensive coordinator: James Bettcher, 39 (Arizona Cardinals)
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Defensive line; Gary Emanuel, 59 (Indianapolis Colts)
Linebackers: Bill McGovern, 55 (Giants holdover)
Defensive backs: Lou Anarumo, 51 (Miami Dolphins)
Assistant defensive backs: Deshea Townsend, 42 (Tennessee Titans)
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Assistant linebackers: Rob Leonard, 32 (Giants holdover)
Defensive assistant: Bobby Blick, 33 (Giants holdover)
GIANTS SPECIAL TEAMS
Special teams coordinator: Thomas McGaughey, 44 (Carolina)
Assistant special teams coordinator: Anthony Blevins, 41 (Arizona Cardinals)
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STRENGTH & CONDITIONING
Strength and conditioning coach: Aaron Wellman (Giants holdover)
Assistant: Markus Paul (Giants holdover)
Performance manager: Joe Danos (Giants holdover)
Director of performance nutrition: Pratik Patel (Giants holdover)
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