It took about 36 hours longer than strictly necessary, but the New York Giants fired (now former) head coach Joe Judge Tuesday evening. In typical “Giants” fashion, they made the decision in their own time and took everyone by surprise when the announcement was made seemingly out of nowhere.
So what now?
Well, we don’t really know, which is a new and exciting feeling for someone used to the Giants’ predictability and half-measures.
A big reason why we don’t know what comes next is that John Mara came out and said this:
“We will hire a general manager and that person will lead the effort to hire a new head coach.”
While it would seem like a perfectly normal remark from an owner hitting the Red Button on his franchise, this is actually a pretty monumental statement from Mara. The decision on the head coach has always been the province of the Giants’ ownership, so letting the new GM make the decision on who their head coach will be is a significant change of direction for the franchise.
We won’t know who the Giants will — or won’t — interview for their head coaching position until they hire their next GM. But we can take a look at some of the most prominent candidates and see who might be on the Giants’ radar when they start interviewing potential coaches.
Many of these coaching candidates are connected to the Giants’ GM candidates. In much the same way that teams are pairing young quarterbacks with former collegiate teammates, paring a new GM with an assistant with whom he’s already familiar could help shorten the team’s collective adjustment period.
Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier (Buffalo Bills)
I think we pretty much have to start with the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator. Not only is he one of the hottest head-coaching candidates in this current hiring cycle, but the Giants are interviewing Bills’ Assistant GM Joe Schoen for that vacancy on Wednesday.
The Giants obviously want their next GM to have a head coach with whom he can work well and with whom he shares a vision for the team going forward. Daboll and Schoen obviously know each other, know how each view the game of football, and work together well.
We can also consider Bills’ defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier for this same reason. Frazier also brings the added benefit head coaching experience after being the Minnesota Vikings’ head coach from 2011 to 2013. He is also currently the Bills’ assistant head coach.
The Giants have preferred offensive-minded head coaches (prior to Joe Judge), and hiring a defensive coordinator would be another departure for them.
Eric Bieniemy and Steve Spagnuolo (Kansas City Chiefs)
The other obvious jumping off point is with Chiefs’ OC Eric Bieniemy. Bieniemy has been a popular figure in head coaching discussions for the past several cycles, but has yet to receive a job offer. He joined the Chiefs in 2013 with Andy Reid as the running backs coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2018. And as with Daboll (and Frazier), Bieniemy is well acquainted with one of the Giants’ GM candidates in Ryan Poles. Poles is the Chiefs’ executive vice president of player personnel and first joined the organization as a scout in 2009. As with the candidates from the Bills, Bieniemy and Poles know each other well and have been in the same building for eight years now.
As with Leslie Frazier, I have to include Spags in this for the same reasons. Not only does Spagnuolo know Poles, but he has previous head coaching experience. He also has a rich history with the Giants organization and the city of New York. Spags could also easily earn a vote from the Giants’ ownership given his familiarity — and ownerships’ knowledge of how popular Spagnuolo is with players.
Greg Roman (Baltimore Ravens)
I’m including Roman on the list now that the Giants have officially requested an interview with Ravens’ executive Joe Hortiz.
Roman is a long-time offensive coordinator in the NFL. He was the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator from 2011 to 2014, the Bills’ offensive coordinator from 2015 to 2016, and has been the Ravens’ senior offensive assistant (2017), assistant head coach (2018), tight ends coach (2017-2018), and offensive coordinator (2019-present).
Roman has proven to be remarkably flexible, calling plays under Jim Harbaugh for Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick, under Rex Ryan for Tyrod Taylor, and under John Harbaugh, helping with the transition from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson.
Roman’s various offenses have only had a negative point differential twice, once in 2014 with the 49ers and this past year with the Ravens.
Brian Flores (free agent)
The NFL world was stunned when Brian Flores was fired by the Dolphins on Black Monday. There were rumors of behind-the-scenes power struggles and Flores’ abrasive personality after he was fired. But the fact remains that he is a good coach and the Dolphins had their first two winning seasons since 2016 in 2020 and 2021.
While Flores wouldn’t have an instant connection to the Giants’ GM candidates, his familiarity with Patrick Graham could be another reason for him to be high on the Giants’ list of candidates. Graham, and the Giants’ defense under him, is inarguably the best thing to come out of the last four years, and the Giants’ ownership could be very interested in maintaining that.
Kellen Moore (Dallas Cowboys)
Moore is young at just 33 years old, but his rise up the coaching ranks has been absolutely meteoric.
He started as the Cowboys’ quarterbacks coach in 2018 after retiring from his playing career (finishing as a backup quarterback for the Cowboys) in 2017. The next year, Jason Garrett promoted Moore to be their new offensive coordinator and the results were immediate. The Cowboys scored 95 more points in 2019 than they did in 2018, jumping from 22nd in points and yards to first in points and seventh in yardage. Moore’s offense lead the NFL in both points and yards this past year, and their 530 total points scored shattered the franchise record by 51.
Hiring a 33-year-old first-time head coach is an obvious risk for the Giants, but finding an offensive mastermind could be a priority for a team that has fielded the worst offense in the NFL over the last two years.
This is also the hire Sun Tzu would approve of. Not only would it (potentially) strengthen the Giants, but doing so at the expense of a rival is an extra incentive.