EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Pat Shurmur stood at the podium Thursday and answered some more questions about his rookie quarterback. It’s going to be part of his regular routine now that Daniel Jones is playing ahead of Eli Manning for the New York Giants.
Shurmur appeared to be at ease. Maybe more so than at any other time since he was hired as the franchise’s coach 20 months and 13 losses ago.
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This is his Namaste moment. Make no mistake, multiple sources told ESPN it was Shurmur who walked upstairs at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center and made the push to insert Jones into the lineup. He knew it was time. There was no waffling like the organization had done in the past when they reinserted Manning after he was on the bench late in the 2017 season.
“I certainly made the decision, and I had the conversation with all the parties involved,” Shurmur said. “At some point, they said, ‘Are you sure?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m sure.'”
The Giants (0-2) needed a change. They had just dropped their first two games for the sixth time in seven years and Shurmur’s career record dipped to 15-36. His .294 winning percentage is the seventh-worst in NFL history for a coach with at least 50 games on his résumé.
Shurmur began seriously contemplating the move immediately after Sunday’s 28-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills. It was already in motion on Monday when he met with the media mid-afternoon, and by Tuesday morning the team made the official announcement.
All the key figures in the organization — especially co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and general manager Dave Gettleman — were consulted.
“Yes, absolutely,” Shurmur said. “You don’t do these things without talking to the people that you just mentioned, and Steve [Tisch] and so on.”
At the crux of it all is that Shurmur needs to start winning. At the very least, he needs to start putting something on the field that provides hope for the future. Jones can do that. He is the only real hope to show the progress that ownership desires this season.
Mara said this summer that Shurmur and Gettleman and their respective futures were “absolutely” tied to Jones after making such a significant investment in him in this year’s draft with the No. 6 overall pick. Jones’ progress will be progress for them, and it’s their best chance to help make this season a success in ownership’s eyes.
That’s really what they need to unfold over the remaining 14 games.
“I want to feel like at the end of the season we’re moving in the right direction,” Mara said this summer. “I’m not going to say it has to be a minimum number of games that we have to win, or we have to make the playoffs. I want to feel when I’m walking off the field after the last game of the season, whenever that is, that this franchise is headed in the right direction. That’s, to me, the most important thing.”
Jones, 22, has done nothing but impress since walking into the building. He’s checking off boxes every step of the way.
Shurmur said Thursday he doesn’t think about it much, but deep down he has to know his wagon as an NFL coach is hitched to Jones. If the young quarterback is ultimately successful, so too might Shurmur be with the Giants.
If not, another opportunity might be hard to come by. Not that he would admit it.
“I’m a little like the quarterbacks themselves. I sort of stay in the moment,” Shurmur said. “So my focus is obviously finishing up our practices, and today we’re doing Thursday things.”
The Giants are 5-13 since Shurmur and Gettleman took over. They’re still looking for their first win of the season on Sunday when Jones makes his starting debut on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox).
Shurmur indicated Monday he believes Jones is the better quarterback to win games right now.
“Daniel Jones is ready to play and we’re going with him. Yes,” Shurmur said. “And the reason I say that is because we do everything we can to win football games, and at this point we feel like he’s the guy we want to move forward with.”
It’s the move that will make or break Shurmur’s head-coaching career.