The weakest unit on the New York Giants the past three seasons is set for a much-needed overhaul, so says newly introduced head coach Pat Shurmur.
The offensive line, the worst in the league over the past several seasons, is going to be a focus of the rebuild under Shurmur, who was announced as the Giants head coach this week and officially presented to the media on Friday. The Giants have struggled to protect quarterback Eli Manning the past three seasons, with Manning having one of the fastest release times in the pocket this year, due solely to the fact that he was trying to not get buried under a pile of pass rushers.
Addressing and bolstering the line, Shurmur said, is a priority. He cited his experience with the Minnesota Vikings this past year and previously with the Philadelphia Eagles — he had been the offensive coordinator the past few seasons with both teams — as a recipe for success. Both teams have built impressive offensive lines over the past two years.
Shurmur revealed that during the interview process, general manager Dave Gettleman emphasized the offensive line play as his focus on building a team. It struck a chord with the Giants head coach.
“As soon as he said, ‘Everything starts with the offensive line.’ 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,” Shurmur said. “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. And some of it may be just inspiring a player on the roster to play better than he’s played, you know, and that comes back to coaching. And then we all know that every once in a while, you need to get some new players.”
As for what the offense will look like, Shurmur sounded non-committal.
With the Vikings, he dealt with a third-string quarterback after Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater went down with season-ending injuries. He was able to manage that offense into a second seed in the NFC playoff bracket and a trip to the NFC Championship Game.
But running the ball and protecting the quarterback will be key.
“I think we have an offense that we’re going to constantly try to do the things that our players can do well. So once we quickly learn what our players are good at, then we’ll ‑‑ 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 are advantages to using that strategically,” Shurmur said. “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 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.”