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If Spags goes, who replaces him?

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Thus far three NFL teams have fired their head coaches, and New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is on the short list of potential replacements in Detroit, Cleveland and with the New York Jets.

When the dust settles there could be even more openings, increasing the possibility that Spags will end up with a head coaching job somewhere in 2009.

So, if Spagnuolo leaves who replaces him as guru of the Giants' defense? Let's look at some of the obvious candidates.

  • Bill Sheridan: I read recently that Sheridan, in his fourth season as Giants' linebackers coach, would have been elevated to defensive coordinator this season if Spagnuolo had taken the Washington job last off-season. So, Sheridan has to go right to the top of the list of candidates. His four years with the Giants comprise his only NFL experience. In his 28 years of coaching, Sheridan has never been a head coach or coordinator. Sheridan's bio
  • Peter Giunta: He is in his third year as secondary coach with the Giants. He was defensive coordinator for the 1999 Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams -- a team better known for its offense. Still, that does give Guinta a pedigree. Giunta's bio
  • Romeo Crennel: Our own 'cjmulrain' started a debate yesterday over whether the Giants should hire Crennel, just fired as Cleveland head coach, if Spagnuolo moves on. Crennel has tremendous defensive qualifications, having been Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator in New England from 2001-2004, when the Patriots began their dynastic run. Crennel also has roots with the Giants, having been an assistant in New York from 1983-1992. I suspect Romeo is a much better coordinator than head coach, but my gut tells me the Giants hire from within for this job. If they don't he is definitely an intriguing option. His chances might be helped by the fact that Giants' coach Tom Coughlin was also an assistant with the Giants during part of Crennel's tenure with the team in the 1980s, so there is a history.
  • Mike Nolan: Fired this season as San Francisco's head coach, Nolan, like Crennel, is another guy with a great track record as a defensive coordinator and a lousy one as a head coach. He also has roots with the Giants, having been defensive coordinator from 1993-96. He has also been a coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets and Washington Redskins.
  • Mystery Candidate(s): I don't claim to be an expert on assistant coaches around the league, and I am sure Coughlin and General Manager Jerry Reese have been keeping their eyes open for talented coaches they think might be ready to become coordinators. That is how Coughlin found Spagnuolo. Now he might just have to hope he can do it again.