Pat Shurmur is on the clock.
Not in today’s NFL.
As of the end of business on Black Monday, eight head coaches had been fired. A quarter of the teams in the NFL are seeking new head coaches.
In Arizona, Steve Wilks got one year before being canned.
In Denver, Vance Joseph got two.
In Miami and Tampa Bay, Adam Gase and Dirk Koetter got three, respectively.
Shurmur’s predecessor, Ben McAdoo, got two years — and that included a playoff appearance in his first year.
Shurmur’s Giants finished 5-11 in his first year and, following Sunday’s season-finale 36-35 home loss to the Cowboys as well as on Monday, there was a lot of spin-cycle coachspeak about “progress made’’ and successful “leadership and team building’’ coming from the Giants head coach.
Shurmur was quick to point out that his first goal was to “grow away from 3-13,’’ referring to the Giants’ 2017 record under McAdoo’s watch.
Shurmur now needs to grow away from 5-11 with eight games lost by a touchdown or less. Because another two-game improvement in 2019 from 5-11 to, say, 7-9, will not be acceptable for Giants fans — not with Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. in his locker room.
With the current “short leash’’ trend in the league for coaches, Shurmur was asked Monday: “Does that increase your sense of urgency to get things right?’’
“I think I’m pretty urgent, and I’m pretty disappointed when we don’t win every week,’’ he said. “I think we all understand the environment. Did I hear there’s eight guys that lost their jobs already?”
When asked to evaluate how he did in his first season with the Giants, Shurmur said, “We didn’t win enough games. What we did well is we took a young team and a new team and a new staff and we competed, and we had some good victories. But we’ve got to do a better job of winning those close games.’’
Losing a lot of close games is a double-edged sword. It can mean a team truly is close to being good or it can be a mirage and mean the team is just bad enough to lose all of those games.
Where are the Giants on this slide rule? Somewhere in the middle. And it’s Shurmur’s job to figure out how to win those close games or he’ll become a statistic just like Wilks, Joseph, Gase and Koetter were on Monday.
Results aside for a moment, there are a number of positives that Shurmur has brought to the Giants — the first of which is the universal respect he carries inside the Giants locker room. The value of that cannot be overstated. And it’s something that was not present under the watch of his predecessor.
“It was a really tough year, especially the first half, and I thought he did a great job keeping everybody together and keeping everybody playing hard when we were 1-7,’’ veteran linebacker Connor Barwin told The Post on Monday. “As a head coach you have to be authentic and he was authentic, which I respect a lot. He was honest and transparent.
“He stood by what he believes in from Week 1 to Week 17, and I think that’s a good trait. If you want your players to believe in you, you better believe in what you believe in, and I thinks he showed that this year.’’
Like Barwin, who was in Philadelphia for the three years Shurmur was there as the Eagles offensive coordinator, veteran offensive lineman John Greco had a past with Shurmur before coming to the Giants, playing in Cleveland for the two years Shurmur served there as head coach.
“[Shurmur] is the same coach that I had in Cleveland, but he’s learned some things and I think he’s coaching with maybe a little bit of a chip on his shoulder like he has something to prove,” Greco told The Post.
“He has the full support of the locker room. Guys play super hard for him and he has a successful system. Moving forward, I think he’s the right piece to the puzzle, and I think you’re going to see tremendous strides from this team next year. That makes it exciting moving forward.’’
That, of course, is what this is all about for Shurmur and the Giants: Moving forward and being a lot better than 5-11, playing meaningful games in December — and January.
“Eight of our games were lost by a touchdown or less,’’ Greco said. “I was looking at those games this morning and thinking, ‘Man, one point, two points.’ Now it’s, ‘OK, no more asterisks, no more moral victories.’ Next year it needs to be, ‘We won 10 games by a touchdown or less.’ ’’
Only then will Shurmur’s words about the progress, leadership and team building come with a bit more gravitas.
Only then will that take Shurmur off the clock.