The New York Giants, coming off a dismal 3-13 season in 2017, are back to work at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford on Monday. It is the first time the entire team will be meeting their new head coach, Pat Shurmur, and his coaching staff.
In attendance, despite rumors that he planned on staying away from the Giants until he puts his name on a new, extended contact, was WR Odell Beckham, Jr. Shurmur confirmed OBJ was in the building on his morning introductory conference call with the Giants’ beat pool.
When asked about his correspondences with Beckham up to today have gone, Shurmur played it close to the vest. Stories about the Giants possibly dealing Beckham have been circulating for weeks. The rumors were more smoke than fire, but there was plenty of smoke. Shurmur was asked how he thought those rumors would affect Beckham.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I really believe that Odell is a professional and he wants to be great. He understands the importance of the offseason and he’s a competitive guy and, again, we had already started communicating before all that information kind of got out there, and was talked about a great deal. He’s a professional and I’m glad he’s here today.”
That was it. Shurmur is a different personality type than the Giants’ beat pool is accustomed to. He doused cold water on any further questions about Beckham, shifting gears to the more pressing business at hand – turning this Giants team back into a contender. He is the face of change after two years of Ben McAdoo and his lack of experience.
“That’s probably a better question for them,” said Shurmur, responding to a question about what will be different under his regime. “I certainly have learned in the last couple of months how things were done in the past and there are some changes that I’ll let them discuss those with you. But, I think what’s important is — listen, this is a game that we all love to play, most great players love the training aspect of the game and getting better and being a little bit uncomfortable and working through that, and I think that’s part of where we’re at. I think anybody, when there is a new coach and a new general manager and some new players, there are some changes that they expect to see, but I think that is probably a better question for them as they move forward.”
Communication was a huge issue under McAdoo. Shurmur knows how to reach players and get the best out of them. He’s been at this awhile. He does not want to a repeat of last year, where several players opted out and conducted a wildcat strike of sorts.
“I just think it’s very important that we’re very professional, we communicate well together and then there is going to be a transfer of information. I think we as coaches need to listen to the players, but also teach what we want them to know and then let them tell us what they’re seeing so that we know how we have to teach it further. That’s what we’re looking forward to, is the communication and then watch these guys develop also physically as they go through the weight lifting and the running.”
That’s what will happen. Nothing earth-shattering. He doesn’t plan on making splashy headlines and he doesn’t plan on fanning the flames of the Odell situation. Shurmur runs a tight ship and he will hold the players’ feet to the fire. He’s got more on his plate than to coddle Beckham.
“I’m not overthinking this,” said Shumur. “This is the first day of work, this is the first opportunity for all of us to be here together and I think it’s important that Odell is here and I’m looking forward to him getting one day better by being here and I’m looking forward to him inspiring some of his teammates to get better because he’s here and he’s a terrific player and I think we can all learn from one another. Quite frankly, I’m looking forward to the players challenging me to grow, so that we can grow towards some of the things that we were talking about earlier.”
Things will heat up the next few weeks around the facility. The new draft class will overshadow the Odell situation. Odell himself may not stick around for the entire offseason program anyway. The sessions are voluntary, and he just might show up when he needs to instead of sticking around this spring.
Read nothing into it. The Giants are still determining what they want to do with Beckham. He’s on the books for this season for $8.4 million as a result of the team picking up the fifth year option on his rookie contract. If they did dangle him out there as trade bait, nobody bit. He’s still rehabbing from a broken ankle that sidelined him the last two months of the season, so he may not be as marketable as the Giants think.
The fact that Beckham showed up for the first OTA was an olive branch in the Giants’ direction. This may not be an issue after all. In fact, seeing less Odell might be better for Shurmur. One less distraction to deal with at the moment.