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Giants will be first up for sought-after Carolina DC Steve Wilks

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Carolina defensive coordinator considered a strong candidate

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants’ search for a head coach could be heading into the home stretch. Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, the candidate with the closes ties to general manager Dave Gettleman, is expected to interview with the Giants early this week.

The Giants only have interviews with Wilks and former Denver Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville remaining among their original list of candidates.

If Wilks is their guy, and their seems to be a good chance he might be, he is available immediately. That is because the Panthers lost to the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round Sunday, so their season is over.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported that Wilks’ interview, originally thought to be scheduled Monday, will be held Tuesday. That gives Wilks a chance to meet with Carolina players after the Panthers’ season ended. It also gives him a chance to better prepare for head-coaching interviews, rather than being thrown into that process less than 24 hours after his team’s season ended.

Wilks reportedly also has interviews this week with the Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts. If Wilks and the Giants find each other mutually attractive, perhaps some of those interviews won’t happen and the Giants will have a head coach by the end of the week.

After Sunday’s 31-26 loss to New Orleans, Carolina coach Ron Rivera seemed to believe that someone is going to hire Wilks as a head coach.

“I know that Steve is a hot commodity, deservedly-so,” Rivera said, via Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. “He has done a tremendous job wherever he’s been, starting in Chicago and San Diego and down here with us. It’s going to be a tough one. Him and Sean (McDermott) are two very good people who are very special to this organization. We helped build this team.

“I don’t want to talk as if Steve is gone, but I have a hunch. It might be his time.”

Perhaps a loss in which your defense gave up 31 points and 376 passing yards in not the final impression you want to leave prospective employers, but Wilks’ body of work is impressive.

Wilks, 48, has been an NFL assistant since 2006 and has been coaching since 1995.

Ted Ginn, a former Carolina wide receiver who played the Saints in 2017, is a Wilks advocate.

“He always has a very positive message. He’d keep reminding, ‘Make sure every day is right.’ That’s been a trademark around there,” Ginn said.

Gettleman and Giants’ co-owner John Mara have expressed a preference for an experienced head coach, though they haven’t said it was a must.

Here is how Gettleman described what he wants in a head coach:

“I really believe that the head coaching job is a CEO position. It really is. You look at the great head coaches and I’ll tell you right now, there ain’t a dumb one in the group. There’s not a dumb one in the group. They’re all leaders. They all know how to lead men. And, that’s what you need. You need intelligence. You need leadership and on the assumption that you hire an intelligent guy, you’re going to have a guy with vision. Those are critical components you’re looking for.”