If Pat Shurmur is going to succeed as the head coach of the New York Giants, he’ll need to wrestle control of the locker room away from Odell Beckham Jr.
It’s been a rough couple of days for Pat Shurmur. First he had to deal with Odell Beckham Jr’s public criticism of his team and then he lost a heartbreaker to the Panthers on a last-second 63 yard field goal from Graham Gano. If he’s going to enjoy his future, he needs to put Beckham Jr. in his proper place.
For the record, the controversial wide receiver’s words did seem to hit home with his teammates this week. The Giants weren’t able to finish the deal in Carolina, but they looked much better than they had in recent weeks. It’s very possible that Beckham’s comments about the team’s lack of heart and energy helped his team play better this week.
That doesn’t mean it’s good for the team in the long room. Shurmur deserves credit for privately addressing the matter with Beckham. The Giants’ head coach showed even more intelligence by declining to discuss the matter any more with the media after Sunday’s game. His job isn’t done though.
If Shurmur wants to get his team headed in the right direction, he can’t let Beckham be the team’s leader. He is the team’s most talented player, but that doesn’t mean he’s the right guy to be the roster’s conscience. Shurmur needs a more stable, predictable player to assume that role.
Transitioning locker room leadership from Beckham to another player isn’t going to be easy. Shurmer can’t afford to go to war with such a popular player. If he chooses to go toe-to-toe with his All-Pro wide receiver he’s going to lose his job. Instead, Shurmur needs to subtly find ways to empower another player or players to speak their mind(s) in the locker room. That’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s vital for Shurmur’s future in the Big Apple.
Of course, the easiest way for Shurmur to succeed in transitioning power away from Beckham would be to win some football games. If the Giants continue their current losing streak, players are naturally going to lose faith in their coaching staff. There’s no question about Beckham’s on-field talent, but there’s no real idea if Shurmur has what it takes to be a successful NFL head coach. Other players will naturally gravitate towards the more established commodity. In this case, that’s Beckham.
Beckham may be quiet for now, but Shurmur needs to keep him that way to succeed as the head coach of the Giants. That’s going to be a huge challenge, but turning around an NFL franchise is never a simple or easy endeavor.