EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Co-owner Steve Tisch is looking to take a greater role in the daily operations of the New York Giants as the organization begins a third coaching search in four years and faces criticism for retaining the general manager who hired the last coach.
The Giants once again put themselves in the postseason spotlight for the off-the-field reasons when they fired coach Pat Shurmur on Monday and elected to keep general manager Dave Gettleman despite the two combining for nine wins over the past two seasons.
Co-owner John Mara said it was a gut instinct to fire Shurmur after the Giants (4-12) lost their regular-season finale to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Mara added the decision to keep the 68-year-old Gettleman was based on giving him the chance to finish a major overall of the roster and the scouting system and to increase use of analytics while spending his first year on the job fighting cancer.
Gettleman has been criticized for some questionable trades (Odell Beckham Jr. and Leonard Williams) and his hit-and-miss free agent signings, led by tackle Nate Solder, who has been inconsistent.
“He does know his batting average has to increase going forward,” Mara said in putting Gettleman on the spot for next season.
Mara, Tisch and Gettleman met with Shurmur on Monday morning and informed him he was being let go with three years left on his contact. Mara and Tisch said they have been talking about the coaching situation for weeks and were in agreement of the need to change. Mara felt there were games the team could have won this season and didn’t.
Mara added there is no denying the team made the wrong choices in hiring Ben McAdoo in 2016 and Shurmur in 2018.
“I think there are some very attractive candidates out there who will have interest in this job and I think we will get it right this time,” Mara said of the next coach, adding he wants a leader.
Tisch, who has been somewhat of the silent co-owner working on the West Coast, plans to be more active after too many frustrating seasons.
“I am involved and I would like to be more involved. I will become more involved moving forward in 2020,” said Tisch, adding the two men have a good working relationship and always reach an agreement after sharing their different opinions.
Both felt it was in the best interest to fire Shurmur and keep Gettleman. They also shared the responsibility for the team having 12 wins over the last three seasons.
The four-time Super Bowl champions have missed the playoffs seven times in eight years.
Mara and Tisch believe Gettleman has assembled a good nucleus of young players led by running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones, and updated several layers of the organization.
“We believe it would be a mistake the pull the plug on that after two years, particularly when you consider Dave spent the a major part of the first year fighting for his life,” Mara said.
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).
“It’s been a very frustrating four years, certainly the record indicates that, those numbers don’t lie,” Tisch said. “Going forward, John and I want to make sure that those numbers change in the next season dramatically.”
Shurmur came to the Giants after a successful stint as the offensive coordinator 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.
Jones was disappointed by the firing.
“Coach believed in all of us, and it’s disappointing,” Jones said. “I’m grateful to him for the opportunity.”
Manning, in the final year of his contract, also felt for Shurmur. He said the two had a great relationship and described the 54-year-old coach as a wonderful man.
Manning said he will decide his future down the road and is considering all his options, including retirement. He said it was doubtful he would return to the Giants in a backup role.
Shurmur’s chances of success were hurt by a bad defense that was constantly making mistakes in the 3-4 front installed by coordinator James Bettcher.
His other major problem was fielding a young team that made too many mistakes.
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 let go after the 2015 season. McAdoo and Shurmur have failed to get the job done.
Whoever gets the job will need to develop Jones and be able to fix the defense.
Former Packers coach Mike McCarthy is expected to be a candidate, along Baylor coach Matt Rhule, a former Giants assistant, and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Dallas coach Jason Garrett, another former Giant, might draw interest.
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