EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Pat Shurmur was an assistant coach in Philadelphia back in 2007 and he remembers the tornado that swirled 90 miles to the north when the Giants started 0-2 that year. He recalled seeing a back page of a newspaper with a picture of Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin under a headline that wondered "Will they survive?"
"Then, lo and behold, they won a Super Bowl," Shurmur said on Wednesday. "Now that doesn't say that's what's going to happen (now), but you just have to play it out."
His point was that patience is sometimes necessary and it can be rewarded. Of course, Coughlin and Manning were in Year 4 with the Giants when the walls (and the tabloids) started closing in on them during that 0-2 start.
Shurmur is only two games into his tenure and the outside panic is already starting.
Surely he had to figure his honeymoon was going to last a little longer than that.
Unfortunately for him, that's not the case, because the 53-year-old first-year head coach of the Giants is unfairly carrying the burdens of what happened last year. The Giants' 3-13 collapse under the unlikable Ben McAdoo was one of the most disappointing and disastrous seasons in franchise history -- a point emphatically made when McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese were fired before the end of the year.
So everything Shurmur does, everything that happens, has that as the backdrop. The patience, inside and outside the organization, had already been frayed. The world wanted change and it wanted it immediately.
Instead, there have been too many similarities that make this 0-2 start seem immeasurably worse. The offensive problems, the porous offensive line? It's exactly what happened last year. The questions about Eli Manning? Those almost directly led to McAdoo getting shoved out the door.
Even Shurmur's weekly interview on WFAN with Mike Francesa on Tuesday unleashed the echoes of McAdoo and 2017. It was bland, unrevealing, and filled with short, non-specific answers and way too much coachspeak for both Francesa and his listeners. Even Shurmur seemed to recognize that saying at one point that "I'm sure this doesn't make for a great interview."
Francesa ended the interview by describing it as "like going to the dentist." And he was right.
But before everyone rolls their eyes into the back of their heads and complains this is all just a horrible case of déjà vu - bad line, aging quarterback, bad team, bland coach, and a completely doomed season - it's important to regain a small fragment of perspective. Anyone who thought this season was going to be easy after last year was deluding themselves about how deep the problems of the Giants really were. It was never going to be a quick fix. The Giants were never going to be able to turn themselves into instant contenders, no matter how optimistic Shurmur and new GM Dave Gettleman were.
This was a rebuild that was going to take time. And Shurmur deserves more than two games to do it before anyone raises the white flag.
And that includes with regards to the way he deals with the media and public. All coaches try to be Bill Belichick lite because A) he won Super Bowls so it must works and B) they're paranoid and believe every tiny detail of their plan should be treated like a state secret in war time. Most of them realize too late that the act works for Belichick in New England because he was winning. In Cleveland, when he wasn't winning enough, he was just a jerk with a losing record who got fired after five years.
Shurmur, in his first taste of the New York stage, will realize that there's a way to give a little more in interviews, including the explanations fans want to hear for bad results, without giving away those state secrets. For now, at least he's far more professional and human than his predecessor ever was.
And the football side has a chance to come around, too. The Giants were barely beaten by a pretty good Jaguars team in the opener. They did stink in Dallas in Week 2, but it's still only Week 3. As Shurmur said, he's been in other places with what he has now - "a new group, new philosophies, new plays" - and endured a tough start. Then, suddenly, everything clicks and "It gets going."
"I think it's hard to evaluate a team and a season after two weeks. I really do," Shurmur said. "I think it's a little early to draw final conclusions on a team."
He was talking about the 0-2 Houston Texans there, but he certainly could've been referring to the Giants. The point is even right now, with the season approaching a critical turning-point game on the road, it's too early to give up completely or worry that the wrong choices were made.
And that's the message the even-keeled Shurmur has been hammering home to his team.
"No one in this locker room is overreacting," said rookie running back Saquon Barkley. "People outside are overreacting. We understand that 0-2 is not a great start, but it's not the worst thing possible. It's not like our season is over. It's not college. It's not like the year is over."
Maybe it will be soon. But even then, it's too early to declare the Shurmur/Gettleman Era a failure or even to worry that's where it's headed -- even if they do have real big quarterback issues looming in the not-so-distant future. They deserve time to figure this out. They deserve a little patience.
No, not forever. In today's NFL maybe they won't even get more than a couple of years. But they certainly should get more than a couple of games before everyone assumes this is all just some horrible nightmare where the Giants are simply repeating last year.