The Broncos Country Tonight duo had Pat Leonard, Giants beat reporter for the NY Daily News, on to talk about his thoughts on Broncos’ new offensive coordinator and former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur.
And it was quite interesting and occasionally very enlightening.
Leonard’s first comment about Shurmur highlighted the positive that much of Broncos Country has been hearing/saying the past few days - that the beleaguered Giants coach may not have been well-suited for the head coach role but definitely has been successful in the coordinator position.
“His play design caters to a lot of yards after catch and features a lot of receivers crossing underneath - which is why Golden Tate was such a good fit,” Leonard told Ryan Edwards and Ben Allbright.
Leonard noted that Shurmur also loves to use running backs in the backfield, and so the under-use of Saquon Barkley was somewhat puzzling but probably had more to do with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones throwing more downfield than Eli Manning.
The reporter also believes the Broncos’ 2019 first-round draft pick will find an expanded role from Shurmur’s offense.
“I think Noah Fant could really benefit. [Shurmur] likes to screen to tight ends a lot as well as running backs,” he added.
There seem to be differing views of whether Shurmur is a “creative” play caller or a more conservative-but-efficient one, but Leonard fell in the “creative” camp, saying one of Shurmur’s strengths was coming up with a plan for each week.
“One of the things he does best is design an offense week-to-week,” Leonard said, adding that one of the Giants quarterbacks noted that the “hay is never in the barn” with Shurmur, meaning he was always open to suggestions throughout the week or even in a game for a play to call/add. “He’s very collaborative. He has no ego when finding the best play to use.”
"Pat Shurmur has said consistently that he does not believe in halftime adjustments." https://t.co/ht7fnFZWbX— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) January 14, 2020
Ironically, however, some of the criticism of Shurmur was his unwillingness to admit to adjusting the game plan at halftime. In fact, not making any adjustments against the Eagles after being up by 14 going into the half - and the Eagles making a ton of changes on both sides of the ball, which led to an OT win for Philly - sealed Shurmur’s firing in New York.
“Interestingly enough, [Shurmur] has actually said he doesn’t believe in halftime adjustments because the game plan is always evolving,” Leonard said, speculating that it was likely more of a stubbornness against admitting publicly that the game plan wasn’t working versus actually not believing in it. But Leonard reiterated that when it comes to designing plays, Shurmur does not have an ego. “The play sheet is maleable and can be changed.”
Ultimately, Leonard believes Shurmur is a good guy who is much better getting into the Xs and Os and working with the specific players who will implement the plays than he is overseeing the entire operation.
Broncos fans will be all-too-familiar with this phenomenon, given the two-year Vance Joseph experiment.
But probably the best news for Denver fans with this news is the rapport Shurmur has always had with the young quarterbacks he has mentored.
Leonard was highly complimentary of Shurmur’s relationship with Jones and how he brought him along during training camp, preparing him and not coddling the young quarterback.
This bodes well for Drew Lock, Leonard said, also pointing out that Shurmur was very high on Lock as an NFL quarterback in last year’s draft process - and incidentally whose son Kyle played against Lock in the SEC as the quarterback at Vanderbilt.
“I think Shurmur did a really good job in understanding what Daniel’s strengths were. Jones had shown to be much more accurate than people thought and much more resilient,” Leonard said. “He did not coddle Jones at all, and he was not only ready to play because of physical attributes but also because Shurmur prepared him to start.”
Leonard added that although Shurmur didn’t establish great rapport with team players as a whole, he did with one of the most important positions on the team - the quarterback.
“And he did not take it easy on him but did so in a constructive way,” Leonard said.
There’s a lot to unpack in some of those statements - especially about Shurmur’s ability to develop rapport with more than just the QB - but as Leonard alluded to, being the offensive coordinator versus the head coach will make it easier to develop rapport with a unit and not just individual players.
The potential play design for guys like Lock, Fant, Phillip Lindsay and even DaeSean Hamilton is also encouraging.
Broncos Country (on MHR) is about 60-40 in favor of the hire. What do you like best about what Shurmur brings?
This poll is closed
Track record developing quarterbacks
Willingness to change the play sheet (even if he won’t admit it)
Experience as a play caller.
Nothing. I don’t like the move.