EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The general expectation throughout the NFL is that the Giants will make a coaching change, at the very least, on Monday morning. There are those inside the Giants organization that expect that too, though they aren't nearly as sure. Some inside Giants headquarters admit they would not be shocked at all if Pat Shurmur's key card still works after ownership meets on Monday.
And that begs this question: After two miserable, double-digit loss seasons, how could ownership keeping Shurmur around?
Maybe, in the end, they can't. Or maybe doing that is easier than anyone thinks, because there are definitely things working in Shurmur's favor and those factors will all get a long look from John Mara and Steve Tisch early next week. Here's a look at some of the things in the "pro-Shurmur" column which inevitably could keep him employed by the Giants for (at least) one more year:
A strong finish
Never underestimate the power of emotions in these decisions, even though Mara and Tisch will do their best to take emotions out of it. The last two weeks have provided a feel-good ending for this hideous season, and it'll be even better if they can beat the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday to keep their bitter rivals out of the playoffs. No, one game shouldn't and wouldn't determine Shurmur's fate. But if a decision hasn't been made yet, it's in Shurmur's best interests to send Mara and Tisch into their Monday morning meeting on that kind of high.
The development of Daniel Jones
This has been one of the great successes for both Shurmur and GM Dave Gettleman. Jones is having a terrific rookie season and everyone sees the growth he's made and the promise he shows. In a down year for the offense, in a season where the Giants have never had all their weapons on the field together at one time, he has three games with four or more touchdown passes, four with 300-plus yards, and only three with multiple interceptions. He's gotten better, and Shurmur and his staff have a lot to do with that. Nothing is more important tothe Giants' future than Jones. Maybe handing him an entirely different playbook in Year 2 isn't the smartest idea.
The 'historic' youth movement
OK, it's not really "historic" as Shurmur claimed, but it's big. On Sunday, the Giants had six rookies and four second-year players in their starting lineup and another three who played big roles. There has been an enormous roster turnover over the last two seasons, and those young players are beginning to show some promise. Again, Shurmur and his staff get credit for that. Not everyone thinks those young players are blossoming as fast as they should, and that will be a factor. But ownership surely knows that winning in the NFL with this much youth isn't easy.
Shurmur's five-year contract
When the Giants hired Shurmur they gave him a five-year deal, instead of the usual four years. At the time, it indicated they planned to be patient with him since they knew at some point soon they'd be transitioning to a young quarterback. Going back on that tacit promise is one thing, but more of a factor may be this: Do they want to pay Shurmur for three more years to not coach, especially after they paid Ben McAdoo to not coach the last two years? Mara and Tisch are filthy rich, but even the wealthy don't like to throw away money for nothing.
Players like him and play for him
This ties in to the "strong finish" factor. To put it another way: The players haven't quit on Shurmur. That's big. That's a big part of what saved Tom Coughlin after the 2006 season when it looked like the locker room was revolting on him, and again in 2014. Ownership noticed the players playing hard and not giving up, all the way to the end. They are definitely seeing that again with this group. It also helps that they like him and respect him, and aren't shy about saying so. The last time they fired a coach so soon -- McAdoo -- it was clear he lost the room. That's not happening here.
He can fire his coaches
If Shurmur comes back, you can bet there will be big staff changes, because the feeling around the Giants is that ownership isn't happy with this staff. The two in the crosshairs the most are defensive coordinator James Bettcher and offensive line coach Hal Hunter. That could be the "saving face" solution. Bring the head coach back, force the staff changes and maybe even make the defensive coordinator someone who could take over if things go wrong in 2020. Really, the entire defensive staff could be in jeopardy, considering all Giants ownership has to do is look acrosstown at the Jets to see a defensive coordinator who was able to do much more with very possibly less.
Patience is a virtue to the Giants
They have preached it for years, they know it works, and ideally they want to run the organization this way. It often pays to have a plan and to stick with it. But firing Shurmur would move the Giants on to their fourth head coach in six seasons (or fifth if you count interim coach Steve Spagnuolo), to go along with two (and maybe three) GMs in that span. That would be the tell-tale sign of a floundering franchise that had completely lost its way. Instead of a steady ownership with a plan, they'dlook like a clueless group throwing darts at a board. That matters to them, not just because of the image but because their own history tells them the steady approach often works.