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Giants head coaching candidates: Taking a closer look at Ralph Vacchiano’s educated guesses

Who already has their foot in the door?

NFL: DEC 15 Dolphins at Giants Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you read our Monday morning collection of news and notes regarding the New York Giants from around the intergoogle, you probably saw the piece by SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano regarding the Giants’ upcoming search for a head coach.

We’ve already written about the Giants’ head coaching vacancy a few times. We’ve looked at who the top candidates could be, as well as looking at some of the rumors already springing up.

The Giants have struggled mightily to find a real long-term answer for their head coach, and it’s a big part of the reason why the team has struggled. Every team needs to get every head coaching hire right, but the once-proud Giants are reeling after their third coaching flop in a row.

Of course, we won’t know who is in the running to be the Giants’ next head coach until the team hires a general manager to lead the search. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from speculating as to the potential candidates.

Vacchiano is trying to read the tea leaves and make some educated guesses based on what he has heard. These are the head coaching candidates who might already have their foot in the door.

Brian Flores

Flores’ name came up in connection to the Giants’ head coaching vacancy almost immediately. Vacchiano reports that John Mara has “great respect” for Flores and the job he did in Miami. Speculation and reports about power struggles and personality conflicts aside, Flores’ brief tenure in Miami should garner respect league-wide. He took a largely depleted roster and made it a play-off contender in the span of two years.

Vacchiano’s report, citing several sources in the Giants’ organization, is particularly interesting in light of last’ week’s report stating that the Giants are “at the top” of Flores’ personal list. As we’ve noted several times, it doesn’t hurt that Flores is a Brooklyn native who grew up a Giants fan before going to work for Bill Belichick. Flores’ relationship with Giants’ Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham can’t hurt either. While Graham’s future with the Giants isn’t certain, I have to assume that the team would rather keep him if at all possible.

At this point it would seem that the only way Flores doesn’t interview with the Giants is if he is already hired by another team before the opportunity to interview comes up.

Brian Daboll

The Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator might have a few “ins” into the Giants’ head coaching search.

The first is on his own merits as the architect of one of the best offenses in the NFL — last year the Bills were fifth in total yards and third in total points. Daboll’s work in Buffalo with Josh Allen and the rest of the offense — and with the Alabama offense under Nick Saban — has made him one of the hottest head coaching candidates since the end of the 2020 season.

Daboll has already interviewed for the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears in this hiring cycle. And, as Vacchiano reports, the Giants were linked to Daboll twice in 2020, first as a head coaching candidate before the team hired Joe Judge, and then Judge tried to get Daboll as his offensive coordinator (the request was denied by the Bills).

And while John Mara has said that the Giants wouldn’t be pursuing “package deals” with the GM and head coach positions, bringing in a head coach who is already familiar with the GM makes a lot of sense. While his connections to Joe Schoen (who might be one of the frontrunners for the Giants’ GM job), Monti Ossenfort, and Adam Peters wouldn’t guarantee a job offer if one of those men is hired, those connections can’t be ignored, either.

As with Flores, it seems as though the only way Daboll doesn’t interview for the Giants’ head coaching job is if he already gets a job offer.

Don “Wink” Martindale

Martindale is another potential candidate with whom the Giants’ ownership is already familiar. Fans may remember that the Ravens’ defensive coordinator interviewed for the Giants’ head coaching vacancy back in 2020. Vacchiano notes that Martindale had a strong interview, and he has an excellent resume.

Jordan Raanan of ESPN reported on Saturday, after Raven’s Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz completed his interview, that the Giants’ ownership has long had an “infatuation” with the Ravens’ organization. Hortiz had been with the Ravens since 1998 and worked his way up under Ozzie Newsome. At the same time, Martindale first joined the Ravens’ coaching staff in 2012 as a linebackers coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2018.

As with Daboll and Schoen, the Giants might not be interested Martindale purely because of his connection to Hortiz. Both men (Martindale and Daboll) have prior connections to the Giants’ head coaching job and strong resumes. That said, it’s just naive to assume that a potential connection to the general manager wouldn’t strengthen their candidacy.

Josh McDaniels

It seems as though McDaniels’ name always comes up in regards to the Giants’ head coaching job. One assume that based on the Giants’ recent history with Joe Judge and the league-wide experience with Bill Belichick disciples, the Giants would be once-bitten, twice (or in this case, thrice) shy with respect to former Patriots’ assistants.

Vacchiano’s inclusion of McDaniels on his list is based both on team history and connection to GM candidates. McDaniels was a potential candidate for the Giants’ head coaching job in 2020 (the team planned to interview him before hiring Judge), which is also true of Daboll and Martindale. And as with the other potential head coach candidates, McDaniels has a connection to multiple general manager candidates (Ossenfort and Adams).

Giants’ ownership may also impressed with the performance of the Patriots’ offense under McDaniels with rookie QB Mac Jones. Last year the Patriots finished a pedestrian 15th in total yardage but finished 6th in total points, averaging 27.1 per game, nearly 2 touchdowns per game better than the Giants’ 15.2.

Final thoughts

As I’ve said, we’re still a ways away from even knowing who the Giants’ head coaching candidates are, let alone who will be hired. Right now this is all speculation and we don’t know who the Giants will, or won’t, be interviewing.

However, we can make some educated guess, and Vacchiano went to his sources in the Giants’ facilities to try and take the temperature of the organization. There will also likely be some surprise candidates along the way as well. And while the whichever GM candidate the Giants eventually hire will lead the search, there’s no guarantee that means any one head coaching candidate will get preference.

These connections are a useful starting point, but just because the GM and a head coaching candidate worked for the same franchise, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to work with them again.

We’ll be bringing you all the news as we get it.