Let’s check in this morning for the latest twists and turns in our favorite (non-favorite for some, I know) soap opera “As the New York Giants Coaching Search Turns.”
Matt Patricia really the No. 1 choice?
Our friends at the Daily News (Hi, Gary! Hi, Pat!) have already anointed New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as the Giants’ next head coach. I have no reason to doubt that the DN believes it is right. I do, however, have serious doubts that it is clear cut that the job will be Patricia’s if he wants it.
I have said this before, but it bears repeating. The Detroit Lions, where former Patriots executive Bob Quinn is GM, have Patricia at the top of their list. If the Lions were convinced that Patricia would not become their coach they would have moved on by now.
Some may take the snooty stance that choosing the Giants over the Lions should be a no-brainer for Patricia. But, it’s not. Detroit remains a legitimate option for Patricia. Here is Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press:
But with the Detroit Lions’ coaching search still in limbo as it approaches its third week, keep this very important fact in mind: Bob Quinn could have moved on to the candidate everyone believes is his second choice by now, Mike Vrabel, if he knew Patricia wasn’t coming to Detroit.
The fact that Quinn hasn’t is at a minimum enlightening and perhaps much more.
Patricia is Quinn’s first choice to replace Jim Caldwell as Lions coach, and for good reason.
The two spent 12 seasons working together in New England, Patricia has earned rave reviews for his work ethic and ability to connect with players, and he’s respected enough that at least one other team — the New York Giants — reportedly wants to hire him as head coach.
There is also this — I continue to hear that co-owner John Mara is resistant to the idea of hiring a head coach without experience in that role. That doesn’t mean he won’t sign off on that idea, it just isn’t his preference.
Patricia is not yet available to be hired. He won’t be until the Patriots are done playing and that may yet work against him if the Giants are nervous about assembling a quality coaching staff.
UPDATE: There is now, in fact, a report that Patricia will take the Lions’ job.
Patriots’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is likely to become the Detroit Lions’ next head coach, league sources told ESPN. More on Sunday NFL Countdown.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 14, 2018
[UPDATE 10:09 p.m.: Patricia to Detroit seems officially unofficial.]
Per sources, Lions have informed other candidates they’ve been eliminated from the search, moving forward with the expectation Matt Patricia will be their head coach when the Patriots season ends. So that job is officially off the board.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 15, 2018
Brady endorses NE coordinators
Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady gave his blessing to both Patricia and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on Sunday night.
On Patricia ...
“I think Matt is a great leader. He’s got a great personality and he works his tail off,” he said. “He’s got a tremendous amount of respect from all the players. Just a great coach. I love Matt.”
On McDaniels ...
“I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t like Josh,” Brady said. “I love Josh. Josh is spectacular. He’s one of the best. He’s just an incredible coach, an incredible friend. We’ve been together for a long time. But great coaches get great opportunities and I’m very happy for both of them.”
McDaniels (28 games with the Denver Broncos) has the head-coaching experience Mara desires, but while he may still be on the Giants’ list of candidates he does not appear to be at the top of it.
Whither Wilks? Maybe not
There were indications a few days ago that the Giants had Patricia and Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur at the top of their list, and that Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks was out of the running.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported this weekend that “the respect GM Dave Gettleman has for him has gone a long way, and he’s very much in the picture.”
Out of the picture? In the picture? Whichever it is, Wilks doesn’t feel like the Giants’ first choice. Personally, though, I have never thought the Giants’ door was completely closed to Wilks.
What about Pat Shurmur?
Rapoport wrote in his summary of the league’s current coaching carousel that “Shurmur is highly regarded inside the Giants' building, far more than people realize.”
Is he regarded highly enough that the Giants would be willing to get into a bidding war with the Arizona Cardinals, perhaps digging deeper into their pockets than they might like to for a head coach?
We might find out soon. If Shurmur and the Vikings lose to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Shurmur would immediately be available to be hired. If the Cardinals want him, as many believe they do, he could quickly have an offer. Which means the Giants would have a decision — counter or move on.
As #Vikings OC Pat Shurmur's team takes the field today, he remains a strong candidate for the #Giants job. If his team loses, NYG could move quickly. His staff is ready. #Panthers DC Steve Wilks remains a strong candidate, as well.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 14, 2018
Who is the “sleeper” candidate?
There was word late in the week that a “sleeper” candidate had emerged. It isn’t known if the Giants have interviewed that supposed sleeper candidate or simply expressed interest.
It is possible that the “sleeper” is Baylor coach Matt Rhule. He has ties to the Giants, and collegiate head-coaching experience. He has also gotten interest from other teams with openings, notably the Indianapolis Colts.
Maybe it’s Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, who has also generated some interest and whom Pats Pulpit believes will one day make an excellent head coach.
He spent four seasons as a scout, three seasons with the special teams unit, one as an offensive assistant, and the past seven as the safeties and linebackers coach. He would really be able to understand how to construct a team and keep it competitive. The players love him and he’s the next in line to be the Patriots defensive coordinator if and when Patricia leaves.
Maybe it’s Mike Munchak. Or Jack Del-Rio. Or Chuck Pagano. Or Joe Girardi. Who knows?
None of the assistants whose teams are still playing can be officially hired. They also can’t be interviewed again until Jan. 22. The period between the 22nd and 28th is the bye week before the Super Bowl, and assistants whose teams are in that game can be interviewed during that week. They can’t be signed, but this is the time of year when “handshake agreements” are common. For example, it was widely known before the Super Bowl last year that the San Francisco 49ers were hiring then-Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as head coach.