NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — If Pat Shurmur is indeed hired as the next head coach of the Giants, it would be hard to argue with the selection.
Especially after Sunday night.
The Vikings’ offensive coordinator, who has been considered one of three finalists to replace Ben McAdoo in New York, was in the middle of Minnesota’s stunning 29-24 victory over the visiting New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs.
Sitting at his own 39 with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Vikings quarterback Case Keenun found Stefon Diggs nearly 40 yards down the right sideline. Diggs came down with the ball at the Saints’ 34 with five seconds left and could have easily stepped out of bounds to set up a long game-winning field goal attempt by Kai Forbath, who just minutes earlier connected on a 53-yarder to temporarily give Minnesota the lead.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, Diggs had the wherewithal to realize that Saints defensive back Marcus Williams had over-pursued on his coverage. Diggs managed to turn and stay in bounds and then took off the rest of the way for a touchdown that sent Minnesota to Philadelphia for next week’s conference championship game.
Overall, Shurmur put together an excellent game plan that helped the Vikings build a 17-0 lead that lasted well into the third quarter. Keenum finished with 318 yards passing and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray each scored a rushing touchdown as normally defense-dominant Minnesota took it to New Orleans.
Shurmur has emerged as the frontrunner for the Giants job now that New England Patriots assistants Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia have reportedly decided to take head coach positions elsewhere. According to ESPN, McDaniels, the mastermind of the New England offense, is expected to take the Indianapolis Colts opening, while Patricia, the Pats’ defensive guru, appears bound for the Detroit Lions, the NFL Network reported.
Last week, the Daily News identified Shurmur as a finalist for the Giants job. The question now is whether he’ll take it or opt for perhaps the opening in Arizona. The Cardinals reportedly have Shurmur very high on their list of candidates to replace Bruce Arians, who retired after the season.
“I don’t really know anything,” Shurmur said of the Giants opening on Sunday night. “I had a great visit with them last week. I felt like we connected. So we’ll have to wait and see.”
The 52-year-old Shurmur, who had a two-year stint as the Cleveland Browns’ head coach, was the fourth person the Giants spoke to when their search to find a replacement for McAdoo began. McAdoo was fired on Dec. 4 after less than two years on the job.
Shurmur has been a part of teams that have qualified for the playoffs nine times and won seven division titles. He was Philadelphia’s quarterbacks coach when the Eagles played in the Super Bowl against New England in the 2004 season.
Shurmur is finishing his second year with the Vikings. He began last season as the tight ends coach and for the final nine games was also the offensive coordinator, the title he retained this season.
The Vikings finished 10th in the NFL in scoring (23.9 points), 11th in total yardage (356.9), and seventh in rushing yardage (122.3) this season. He also helped quarterback Keenum have a career year.
Shurmur posted a 9-23 record in his two seasons (2011-12) with the Browns, going there after a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator with the Rams. He spent three seasons as the Eagles offensive coordinator after being fired.
Shurmur’s NFL coaching career began with a 10-year run (1999-2008) in Philadelphia. He coached in college at Stanford and Michigan State.
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