Former Giants QB Phil Simms remembers being in the midst of a regime change in New York, and has some advice for Pat Shurmur to insure success in his first season.
After Bill Parcells left the Giants, Ray Handley was put in charge, and New York didn't seem to be the same team. Handley coached just two seasons, posting a 14-18 record before being ousted in 1992. In Simms' last season before retirement, the Giants decided to make Dan Reeves their newest head coach in 1993.
Simms immediately saw a change in the locker room when Reeves met with the team for the first time, and he just knew Giants football was back.
"Sit up straight, put your feet on the floor and take you hats off," Reeves said, as Simms recalled the moment to The Post's George Willis.
The stern persona that Reeves gave his team everyday translated into an 11-5 record on the field, and a wild-card berth in the playoffs. Simms says it was the discipline changes and aura that Reeves generated that resulted in the team straightening up, and wanting to go out and play for him.
For Shurmur, he doesn't have to scream and yell at the current Giants roster, but being tough on and off the field will lead the team to respect him and want to play for him.
"When the coach walks in the room there's got to be a little fear," Simms said. "And that line is never crossed.
"I'm a big believer you have to be under pressure to learn what you need to learn during practices and take it on the field."
Now, Simms isn't saying that Shurmur will be just like Reeves, and turn the Giants around in his first season. But he does believe he has a good chance to do so with the coaching staff he has compiled around him. Shurmur only needs to add an offensive coordinator to his staff, and it will be set for next season.
"You've got to have great leadership," he said. "It's everything in the NFL. Football more than anything is about coaches. Coaching can take good players and make them great and it can take really good players and make them superstars."
Simms especially likes the hire of DC James Bettcher, who he thinks could be a head coach candidate very soon.
"I thought he'd be considered as a head coaching candidate," Simms said. "He runs a defense that's complicated but organized."
As for Shurmur, himself, his offensive scheme fits any quarterback in Simms' eyes. So, Eli Manning should have no trouble working it this season.
"It's universal," Simms said. "There are 32 starting quarterbacks in the league and 32 can run his offense. I could have run that offense when I was 40 and when I was 20. It's awesome."
So, if Shurmur can reign in the Giants' locker room and put a successful team on the field, can fans start dreaming about Super Bowl LIII already? Simms thinks getting through the always-tough NFC East should be the first and only goal, especially after a 3-13 season last year.
"There's just so many good teams in the NFC and the NFC East," he said. "The Eagles are in the Super Bowl, Washington was ravaged [by injuries] and the Dallas Cowboys defense was as good as any at the end of the year and is only going to get better. That's enough to fight through."