EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Pat Shurmur has been through this before, so he's "well aware" of what is happening. He can trumpet all the "behind the scenes" progress he wants, remind everyone he's coaching an "historically young team,' and be impressed with how hard they practice. But all that matters is this:
Eight straight losses. A record of 2-10 this year, and 7-21 in his two years as the Giants' head coach. That's bad. It's really bad. And unless you look through Shurmur's glasses it's hard to see how it's going to get any better.
So he knows the fans judge him harshly. And in a few weeks his bosses may judge him harshly, too.
"I'm well aware of it," Shurmur said after the Giants' 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. "People will change what they think of us and me when we win games."
They will. If he sticks around that long.
And that's the big question right now: Will he or won't he? It's a tough decision that co-owner John Mara and Steve Tisch will have to make four weeks from now. It's not a move they want to make, to fire a third head coach in the last five seasons. But if things continue to deteriorate, how could they not?
That's what Shurmur is facing in the final month of the season. His fate has not been sealed. Impressions can still be made. But he needs to do something, anything, over the final four games of the season to make his case. It doesn't even have to be emphatically. It can be subtle signs of progress. But it has to be real -- not this "behind the scenes" nonsense.
And it has to include some wins.
"I'm a realist when it comes to that and I get it," Shurmur said. "And you know what? When you don't win, I expect what is written and said and what people think. I expect fans to be upset because we are, too. But we go about trying to fix it."
Trying is nice. Progress is nice. But in professional sports, wins are all that matters. It can't be enough when Saquon Barkley says things like, "We practice like we are 10-2 ... but for some strange reason it's just not translating to the game right now."
You know what that is? It's the battle cry of a losing team. And you know what happens to teams that think they practice really well, but end up with a 2-10 record anyway? Coaches get fired and players lose jobs, because nobody really cares that Giants practices are apparently so spectacular. Those won't show up in anyone's highlight film.
This is what will matter: Down the stretch the Giants play the 5-7 Philadelphia Eagles twice, the 3-9 Miami Dolphins and the 3-9 Washington Redskins -- a team they beat 24-3 two months ago when they still had a season. There is no excuse -- none - for the Giants not to win a couple of those games, and to be competitive in all of them. Even with this "historically young team," if Shurmur can't squeeze out awin or two against that marshmallowy schedule, then maybe his 17-44 career record as a head coach really is all anyone needs to know.
The Giants don't think so. They believe in Shurmur. Or at least they did when they hired him less than two years ago, and they did when this season began three months ago. They believed he was "the adult in the room," as GM Dave Gettleman said, who could turn this lost franchise in the right direction. And they want to believe that he still can.
Shurmur believes, but even admits, "I'll feel better when we win games."
He also makes sure to provide an asterisk to his hope.
"This is a historically young team that's going out there and competing against some really good football teams," he said. "We've got to do what we have to do to win games and I understand that. They also are developing.
"At some point, we'll be good enough to win."
At some point? That answer is just not good enough. Because he might not get the chance to see if that's true, unless the Giants somehow get to "some point" in the next four weeks. Otherwise, when this team is ready to win more than just a practice, Shurmur could be a memory, and somebody else could be in charge.