Pat Shurmur may already know he's likely to be the next Giants coach, but for now, he's got other priorities. With the Minnesota Vikings still in the playoffs, he told reporters last week that his future has to be on the "back burner".
Once the Giants get to his front burner, though, he'll see he has a lot of work to do.
That's usually the way it is for any new coach, since there's a reason these jobs come open. The Giants were 3-13 last season, and with a new GM in place, their roster is likely in flux. They also have a 37-year-old quarterback who may or may not be with them next year - something that may largely depend on what the new coach wants.
Surely that question, and many others, came up in Shurmur's interview with the Giants.
Every team right now that's not playing in the playoffs has quickly turned their focus to 'How am I going to improve my team?'" Shurmur said last week, "These are teams that are looking for a head coach, so they've got that as part of their process. They were very easy conversations in terms of what your philosophy might be."
So what might his philosophies be? They will be shaped, in part, by how he answers these questions once he's officially on the job:
1. Who is the quarterback?
This can be a two-part answer. Who is the quarterback in 2018? And who is the quarterback of the future? We know the latter isn't Eli Manning because he's 37 and, with the Giants holding the second pick in the draft, they have an opportunity to draft his successor - unless the new coach thinks its Davis Webb.
But the more immediate question is about the now. Both co-owner John Mara and new GM Dave Gettleman have indicated they'd like Manning to be the quarterback in 2018, though Gettleman said he wants to study film and talk to Manning first. He's not exactly coming off his finest year, and if the new coach thinks there are better options, he certainly could nudge the Giants in that direction.
By the way, Shurmur has long been linked to current Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, who will turn 30 in February and will be an unrestricted free agent in March. Some think he wants to bring his protégé with him. Keenum may be playing his way into a bigger deal than the Giants are willing to pay, though. Also, it's hard to see the Giants willingly replacing Manning with a 30-year-old journeyman.
2. Can he rein in the locker room with some much-needed discipline?
Think about what's happened to the Giants the last calendar year, starting with that ill-timed, pre-playoff party boat trip to Miami. Two players have been suspended (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins), one was benched multiple times (Eli Apple) and was called a "cancer" by his teammate (Landon Collins), another was cut (Bobby Hart), and yet another was benched (Ereck Flowers).
And those are just the discipline issues we know about.
Current players say McAdoo lost control of the team, that his discipline was noticeably uneven, and that obviously some players simply tuned him out. Shurmur is not known for being a big, tough, disciplinarian, but he needs to somehow command respect of the room and get the players to buy in to whatever he's saying.
Otherwise, the mess will continue.
3. Can he keep Odell Beckham Jr. under control?
There is something to letting Beckham be Beckham, but let's face it: While he's a great player and invaluable to the Giants, he has had far too many distractions. Whether it's on-field fights, weird celebrations involving the kicking net, vulgar touchdown dances, punching a hold in a wall in Green Bay, leading the party-boat trip, social media rants, saying he should be the highest paid player in football, or just holding out from (or at least skipping) offseason workouts, he creates far too many headlines for things other than his play.
Especially now, coming back from a nasty ankle injury and surgery, it would help the entire team if Beckham could be distraction-free and focus on football. He is a hard-worker, well-liked by his teammates, has had no criminal issues, so keep this "problem" in perspective. But as great as Beckham has been in his career, imagine how amazing a totally focused Beckham could be this year.
Tom Coughlin and McAdoo never got that point across. Maybe the next coach can.
4. Will he call his own plays and can he handle that?
Much like with McAdoo before him, a big selling point of Shurmur is his offensive mind. He's been successful as a play-caller, and he's done a nice job of developing (and winning with) unheralded quarterbacks. Presumably he would call his own offense.
But, as McAdoo found out - and as Shumur might remember from his two years as Browns head coach - there's a lot of crazy stuff that goes into being a head coach. From media responsibilities to logistical things to discipline issues to any number of other things, it's hard for a head coach to truly focus on one side of the ball.
So will Shurmur try? Or will he hire an offensive coordinator who aligns with him philosophically? And along the same lines, how closely will he be able to work with Manning or his successor? McAdoo chose his answers to those questions poorly. Shurmur's answers will be a big key to his success.
5. What did he learn from his last head coaching job?
Don't fret about his 9-23 record as the Browns coach in 2011-12. First of all, that's not bad for Cleveland. Second of all, the Giants prefer to hire a coach who comes to them with something to prove. Not only do they believe he'll be motivated, but he also can see what he did wrong and fix it.
What are those lessons? It's hard to tell from the outside because the situation was a mess. Shurmur took over during the NFL lockout, which made it impossible to build his program in the offseason. The Browns were a mess, coming off three straight years of five wins or fewer, trying to build a younger team. He was also saddled with Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden at quarterback. And oh, by the way, the franchise was in the process of being sold.
There are surely some things he knows he did wrong, though, and other things he wishes he did better. What those are, and how he does them the second time around, will determine whether he comes to the Giants as a better head coach than he was.