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Assessing the New York Giants’ search for a head coach

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Could we get a decision from the Giants this week?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Pat Shurmur
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

As we begin a new week, let’s assess where we think things stand currently in the New York Giants search for a new head coach. I ranked the candidates a few days ago, so we will take each of them in that order.

Josh McDaniels

Interviewed with the Giants on Friday. He also interviewed for the Chicago Bears’ head-coaching vacancy on Friday. That is three interviews for McDaniels so far this hiring cycle, since he met with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday.

There were also reports that McDaniels would have been a leading candidate for the Tennessee Titans job if the Titans had lost Saturday to the Kansas City Chiefs. Titans’ GM Jon Robinson was in the New England Patriots organization from 2002-2013.

McDaniels has been a hot candidate for the past couple of years, having put some distance between himself and his failed two seasons as head coach of the Denver Broncos. By all accounts, he has been and continues to be extremely choosy about his next move.

The recent reports about strife in New England might complicate matters. It wouldn’t be a surprise if McDaniels chooses to stay put as the heir apparent to Bill Belichick with the Patriots.

Steve Wilks

There are five head-coaching vacancies left in the NFL following the news that Jon Gruden will return to the sidelines for the Oakland Raiders. Wilks will likely interview for four of them — Giants, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport has said multiple times that Wilks, the Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator, is a highly-respected leader though he has never been a head coach.

Wilks, of course, has a connection to Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman. Wilks was part of the Panthers’ coaching staff during Gettleman’s entire reign as GM there. There was also a report from Mike Garafolo that Gettleman was anxious to get Wilks in front of Giants’ ownership, something that would not be surprising.

The Giants have said they would like an experienced head coach. Wilks does not have that experience, but he does have a wide variety of college and pro experience.

There has been speculation that if Wilks is hired by the Giants he could bring Carolina assistant coaches Al Holcomb (as defensive coordinator) and Chase Blackburn (as special teams coach) with him.

Key questions for Wilks will be who he would like to bring in as offensive coordinator and how he would like to handle the Giants’ quarterback situation.

Pat Shurmur

Interviewed on Saturday. Shurmur checks the experience box, and has also gotten really good play out of quarterbacks like Nick Foles and Case Keenum, who have not been able to duplicate that success with other teams or coaches. Shurmur’s 9-23 record over two years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns does not, in retrospect, look all that bad.

If the Giants were to hire Shurmur, that might be good news for Steve Spagnuolo. Shurmur was Spagnuolo’s offensive coordinator for two years with the Rams. You have to think it’s possible Shurmur would keep Spagnuolo on in New York to continue running the Giants’ defense.

Matt Patricia

Like McDaniels, he interviewed with the Giants on Friday. Patricia is expected to become head coach of the Lions.

Jim Schwartz

His candidacy for the job seems to be fading. Once reported to be a “favorite” for the job, Schwartz appears to now be a backburner candidate. He does not have an interview scheduled with the Giants. The Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator may never get one.

Eric Studesville

Was supposed to interview last week, but weather forced a cancellation. He should interview this week, but it’s hard to see Studesville getting the job. He’s a veteran running backs coach, but has never been a coordinator or head coach.

Steve Spagnuolo

Got the interview for the job that he was promised by co-owner John Mara. It seems unlikely he would be the choice. Spags is a popular figure in the Giants’ organization, but there is simply too much failure on his resume.

Final thoughts

Reading the tea leaves, both from my own observation and the tidbits of information I’ve been able to glean from other sources, I think this job comes down to Shurmur or Wilks. Unless the Giants choose to widen their search. My guess is McDaniels, as he has done other years, stays in New England after flirting with other teams.

Among those who have interviewed thus far, Shurmur is probably the leader in the clubhouse. There has been a belief all along, though, that Gettleman would push hard for the 48-year-old Wilks after watching his work in Carolina. If Wilks aces his interview with the Giants this week it isn’t hard to imagine him becoming the team’s head coach. If not, Shurmur could be the choice.