With the New York Giants’ search for a head coach continuing, let’s look back at our original list of candidates and see how that holds up.
The interim boss
Steve Spagnuolo — He’s been up and down as Giants’ defensive coordinator. Some really, really good. some really, really bad. He was head coach for three years with the St. Louis Rams , where he went only 10-38. The organization loves Spags, and he does have communication skills that McAdoo lacked. I think the Giants go in another direction, but you never know. [Got an interview, but appears to be out of the running]
Brian Kelly/David Shaw — Both are guys who have had a lot of collegiate success, and have been connected to the NFL previously.
Matt Rhule — The Baylor coach is perhaps an outside the box candidate. He does, however, have Giants connections, having been on Tom Coughlin’s staff in 2012. Turned around the Temple program in four years there, going 2-12 his first season and 20-7 with two conference titles his final two years. Of course, a guy with a 1-11 record this season (his first at Baylor) might be a tough sell.
[NOTE: Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh were on our original list. I took them off because both would want personnel control. They aren’t getting it with Gettleman on board as the GM. Even though there is a report that Saban “covets” the Giants’ job I’m not putting him on the list until he expresses interest himself or sets up an interview.]
Josh McDaniels ( New England Patriots OC) — He is going to be the top guy on everyone’s coaching candidates list. He didn’t cut it as a 33-year-old first-time head coach with the Denver Broncos , betting on Tim Tebow as an NFL quarterback, but he will get another chance. Soon. He’s only 41, has worked for Bill Belichick a long time and also has two years of experience working under Saban. McDaniels figures to be very choosy about his next job, especially with the possibility he could be the heir to Belichick in New England. Would he and the Giants choose each other? [Got an interview, but appears headed to Tennessee or Indianapolis]
Mike Smith (Tampa Bay Buccaneers DC) — Smith was high on the Giants’ list when they replaced Tom Coughlin after the 2015 season. He was a successful head coach with the Atlanta Falcons, going 66-46 over seven seasons and going to the playoffs four times. Of course, his team won just one of five playoff games and the Falcons were a combined 10-22 his last two seasons. After a disastrous run with an inexperienced coach, would Smith’s background appeal to the Giants?
Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans head coach) — O’Brien had three winning seasons in Houston before the wheels came off this year. If the Texans let him go after Sunday, he will be on everyone’s short list. Jim Schwartz (Philadelphia Eagles DC) — Compiled a 29-51 record as Detroit Lions head coach from 2009-2013. Has been defensive coordinator with the Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans. [Once considered a front-runner, the two sides no longer seem interested in each other]
Assistant coaches/first timers
Considering what happened with McAdoo it is going to be difficult for the Giants to go with another young, unproven assistant coach with limited experience. Sitting in the big chair is a lot different than running a position group or being a coordinator. Some guys can make the jump, some can’t. The Giants will have to choose carefully, probably someone who has worked for a variety of teams/coaches, if they go this route.
Matt Nagy ( Kansas City Chiefs OC) — How highly does Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid regard Nagy? The famously offensive-minded KC coach handed over play-calling duties to Nagy this week against the New York Jets . The only times he has done that in the past he gave the role to guys who became NFL head coaches — Brad Childress and Doug Pederson. Nagy is a former Arena Football League quarterback. For me, the one drawback might be that Reid is the only head coach Nagy has ever worked for. [Accepted the head-coaching job with the Chicago Bears]
Dave Toub (Chiefs special teams) — A special teams coach? Yes, a special teams coach. Toub has been an NFL special teams coach since 2001, ran that unit with the Chicago Bears from 2004-2012, and has done the same in Kansas City since 2013. Personally, one of the things I want to see the Giants do is hire someone who intends to coach the entire team, not just one side of the ball. Special teams coaches do that, coaching virtually everyone on the team. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was a special teams coach. Toub, 55, has gotten several interviews for head-coaching vacancies.
Matt Patricia (New England Patriots DC) — The Beard was a guy some in the fan base pined for when the Giants hired McAdoo. He is still in New England running the defense for Belichick. He has never been a head coach, and we have seen enough examples to know that being a Belichick assistant doesn’t guarantee being a good head coach. One interesting thing about the 43-year-old Patricia is that he has coached on both sides of the ball. Besides, he went to RPI — just a five-minute drive from where I live. So, he has to be on the list. [Got an interview but is expected to be head coach of the Detroit Lions]
John DeFillipo (Philadelphia Eagles QBs) — DeFillipo is the current flavor of the month as the hot, young-ish coaching candidate on the league’s hot team. DeFillipo’s only NFL experience as an offensive coordinator was a single year (2015) with the Cleveland Browns. He is highly-regarded and is given a lot of credit for the development of Carson Wentz with the Eagles. DeFillipo makes sense if the organization’s intent is to use their first-round pick on a quarterback.
Teryl Austin ( Detroit Lions DC) — The Giants interviewed Austin when they replaced Coughlin two years ago, and as far as I know liked what they heard. Austin has been getting head-coaching interviews for the past few offseasons. Someone is eventually going to make him a head coach. Will it be the Giants? Austin, 52, has been defensive coordinator in Detroit since 2014. [Accepted the defensive coordinator position with the Cincinnati Bengals]
Dan Campbell (New Orleans Saints TEs) — He isn’t really a first-timer, having served 12 games as interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2015. Was a tight end for the Giants from 1999-2002. Figures to get a shot to run his own team one day. Could that team be the Giants?
Steve Wilks (Carolina Panthers DC) — Has been in Carolina since 2012, so he and Gettleman are very familiar with each other. Has moved up the ladder from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator/assistant head coach. He is expected to be a hot candidate this offseason. [Interviewed, but has apparently been told he is out of the running. Could the Giants circle back to him?]
Pat Shurmur (Minnesota Vikings OC) — The 52-year-old Shurmur has the breadth of experience the Giants are apparently looking for. He has been a head coach, though unsuccessfully with the Cleveland Browns. He has been offensive coordinator with the Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams. He has coached several different positions. The Vikings are good, and if Shurmur is going to get a second crack as a head coach now would be the time. [Could be the current front-runner]