With the news that the New York Giants have decided on a head coach - that person being special teams and wide receivers coach Joe Judge from the New England Patriots - the focus now for the organization turns to who Judge will bring in to fill out his coaching staff. The hiring of a defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator will be a huge window into how Judge and the organization view the future of the franchise, and perhaps no bigger decision awaits than who is the next OC of the Giants. From handling the talented Saquon Barkley to developing rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, the offensive coordinator spot is huge for the future of the team.
Who are the potential contenders, including some names not bandied about currently?
Former Head Coach - Dallas Cowboys
At least this is not for the head coaching gig, right Giants fans?
Before his lengthy stint as a head coach, Garrett was the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, and a fairly impressive one at that. His first year in that spot for the Cowboys was the 2007 season, when Dallas finished 13-3 and their offense was one of the best in the league. That season the Dallas passing game - led by Tony Romo - posted an Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt of 7.1, tied with the Green Bay Packers and the Jacksonville Jaguars for second in the league. (Let’s face it, no one was catching the Patriots that year, and their offense posted a league-high ANY/A of 8.8 that season). The Cowboys’ passing game was also fourth in the league in DVOA.
Two seasons later, the Cowboys were again one of the league’s best offenses, posting the second-most yards in the league.
One of the hallmarks of Garrett’s time as the offensive coordinator for the Cowboys was the aggression that Dallas showed in going downfield. This was something his former quarterback commented on recently when covering a Cowboys’ game:
Tony Romo said he saw Jason Garrett's footprints in the Cowboys offense, but context is important.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) October 13, 2019
He was talking about the Cowboys going down field a lot and how the offense was going back to 2007 and 2009, two of the best offenses in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/js0e5Gu5HM
Would an aggressive, downfield approach work for molding Jones? It is a very interesting approach. During his rookie season Jones showed an ability to push the ball downfield, in contrast to his background in Duke University’s offense which relied heavily on the quick passing game, with shot plays mixed in sporadically. Jones has the arm to work in such a system. Garrett also helped with the growth of both Romo and Dak Prescott as passers, so there is something of a history of quarterback development in place as well.
Former Head Coach - Washington Redskins
The former Washington coach was hoping for a head coaching opportunity as of last week, but with slots being filled he might find himself settling for an OC spot. Gruden’s time in Washington ended with mixed results in terms of a win/loss record, but there was also a track record of quarterback development ... in a sense. Gruden was perhaps a big reason Kirk Cousins earned his huge payday from the Minnesota Vikings, and if you look at Gruden’s offensive system you will find that it is very quarterback friendly. With some mirrored passing concepts, defined half-field reads and a similar penchant for being aggressive in the passing game, Gruden could be a great influence on the growth of Jones.
Passing Game Coordinator - San Francisco 49ers
A few years ago anyone who drove Sean McVay to the airport or waited on line with him at a Starbucks was considered a head coaching candidate. Mike’s older brother Matt is in fact one such individual, as he turned his spot as an offensive coordinator under McVay into that same spot with the Tennessee Titans, and now a head coaching spot with the Green Bay Packers.
Mike LaFleur is currently the passing game coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, who are currently the top seed in the NFC. The 49ers might be led by their defense, but their offense is not too shabby either, as they stand in the seventh spot in offensive DVOA this season. Similar to Gruden, Shanahan’s offense looks to simplify things for the quarterback with half-field reads and concepts, while also relying on play-action and effectively using different personnel packages. This approach would allow the Giants to rely on both Barkley and Jones as offensive weapons, while perhaps taking a lot off the young quarterback’s plate.
Quarterbacks Coach - Baltimore Ravens
The reason that McVay (and his coaching tree) was such a sought-after commodity two years ago was because of the turnaround in Jared Goff. This season the offensive explosion from Lamar Jackson might spur similar inquiries of the Baltimore coaching staff. Current Ravens’ offensive coordinator Greg Roman was mentioned as a potential head coach for a few spots before the hirings began, and is still in the mix for the Cleveland Browns’ spot, but Urban might be worth a look as an offensive coordinator. He has been in the league since 2004, as an offensive assistant, a wide receivers coach and also a quarterbacks coach for both the Philadelphia Eagles (2009-2010) and the Ravens since 2018.
Obviously the Ravens’ offense is a bit of a different beast, but during his stint with the Eagles Urban learned under Andy Reid. Some West Coast roots would obviously mesh with Jones’s background as a quarterback, and it seemed to be the direction the Giants were moving offensively with the acquisitions of players like Golden Tate. Plus, an offense that looks to get the running backs involved in the passing game would be a great way to utilize Barkley’s skillset.
Of course, if Roman does get the head coaching job in Cleveland, Urban would be in the mix to either replace Roman in Baltimore, or potentially move into the OC role under Roman in Cleveland.
Former Offensive Coordinator - Washington Redskins
O’Connell has been rising through the coaching ranks rather quickly. He began his coaching career as the quarterbacks coach with the Browns in 2015, and most recently he was the offensive coordinator under Gruden in Washington.
Even with the uncertainty in Washington this past season, and the unsteady play from the quarterback position, the Washington offense was aggressive downfield while still having the hallmarks of the of Gruden’s system. Mirrored concepts, half-field reads and all elements to help the quarterback. Ineffectiveness with play-action designs might be a concern, as Dwayne Haskins’ completion percentage dropped 5.2% when using play-action versus standard dropbacks, but that might be more of a quarterback than a coach issue.
Quarterbacks Coach - New Orleans Saints
For the past four seasons Lombardi - yes the grandson of the legendary Packers’ coach - has been the quarterbacks coach with the Saints under Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.
While he does have experience as an offensive coordinator, that comes at the college level, where he was the OC/QB Coach for Mercyhurst University for four seasons. What might be intriguing in Lombardi - in addition to his time in New Orleans learning under Payton - is his extensive background at a variety of positions. Lombardi has experience coaching tight ends, defensive line, offensive line, and even strength and conditioning along his journey. That might give him additional insight into building out an entire offense.
Former Offensive Coordinator - Miami Dolphins
After some time spent as the wide receivers’ coach for the New England Patriots O’Shea departed with Brian Flores to Miami to take on the role of offensive coordinator. Obviously the talent in Miami was lacking, but the Dolphins played hard down the stretch and their Week 17 victory over the Patriots prevented New England from securing a first round bye in the playoffs.
O’Shea’s offense was similar, as you might expect, to what the Patriots have been running the past few seasons. A reliance on the quick passing game, play-action and getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly. Elements that do seem to mesh with what Jones brings to the table. Obviously there is no evidence of O’Shea developing a quarterback, but the scheme could work.
Quarterbacks Coach - Dallas Cowboys
It is probably just a matter of time until Kitna gets an OC spot. The former NFL quarterback was a high school head coach at a few different spots, and his current position is his first NFL gig, but the early season success of Prescott was due to work from both offensive coordinator Kellen Moore as well as the work done by Kitna. This video of Kitna at a coaching clinic gives a window into his philosophy of developing and coaching young passers:
Jon Kitna on empowering your quarterback by embracing risk:— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) January 30, 2019
"For 10 years I'd been coached to be cautious. You always take a profit. And here was this coach saying, 'when I call it, and if you get what we're looking for, you rip it. And if something goes wrong, that's on me.'" pic.twitter.com/YFf9yjb1Ru
This kind of mentality might be perfect for grooming a young quarterback in New York.
Quarterbacks Coach - Kansas City Chiefs
While offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is an intriguing option for some head coaching spots, his current QB coach might be an interesting name to make the leap to the OC spot. A former quarterback, Kafka has been in his current rule for the past two seasons with the Chiefs. This has put him in a spot to not only learn under Reid and Bieniemy, but he has also seen up close the growth and development of Patrick Mahomes. Yes, there is a limited resume to work with but if the Giants are looking to chance the culture and put together a young, forward-thinking staff Kafka might be an option.
Offensive Coordinator - LSU Tigers
Now we are getting a bit off script.
Brady is probably one of the hottest coordinator commodities in all of football right now, given what he was able to do with Joe Burrow this season. In fact, that might propel him to a head coaching gig. Before taking the Giants’ job Judge was in the mix to assume the head coaching spot with his alma mater, Mississippi State. Brady’s work this season might make him an intriguing hire for the Bulldogs. But if Brady wants to stay as an offensive coordinator but make the leap to the NFL, New York would be a perfect spot. He can work with a young quarterback and a talented running back, and LSU’s offense really stressed defenses this season conceptually.