The Giants' search for a new head coach began long before they fired Pat Shurmur. They had a list of candidates ready long before that move was official. And in the two days since, they've reached out in some way to everyone on their list.
Here's a look at those candidates, what we know about the Giants' interest in each of them (and vice versa), when they are scheduled to interview, who the competition might be and how likely they are to become the Giants' next head coach.
It's still very early in the process, but they are ranked in the order I believe they are ranked by the Giants, starting with the favorite:
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule
Multiple sources have told SNY he's the favorite and has been for a while. The only question is whether they can lure the 44-year-old out of Waco, Texas. People who know him believe the native New Yorker would love to come home and that the Dallas Cowboys job might be the only other one that would interest him as strongly. The Carolina Panthers reportedly have him high on their list, too. So did the Cleveland Browns, but he already turned them down.
Rhule was a finalist for the Jets job last year and might have gotten it if it weren't for a dispute over whom he'd hire on his coaching staff. The Giants almost certainly would let him pick his own assistants. And a source close to Rhule said it was "ridiculous" to think he'd have any issue working with Giants GM Dave Gettleman. He'll want a voice in personnel decisions, but he'll be fine with the Giants' power structure as is.
Rhule will coach the Bears in the Sugar Bowl Wednesday night. Then he said he plans to immediately go on vacation with his family. It is believed the Giants will squeeze in an interview with him in between.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels
The fact that the Giants interviewed him two years ago, then watched him take the Colts job only to turn it down days later, and they're now willing to talk to him again tells you everything about their interest. It's strong. They consider him one of the brightest offensive minds in football and potentially great head coach who might be the best fit of anyone for young franchise quarterback Daniel Jones.
The reason he's not on the top of the list is obvious: No one knows his intentions. Some think the 44-year-old is fine staying in New England where he may eventually succeed Bill Belichick. Some think he's waiting for Belichick-like total control -- which, according to one report, he might get offered by the Cleveland Browns. The Panthers might offer him a big say in football operations, too.
McDaniels isn't available to be interviewed until next week. It's also unclear if he's going to accept the Giants' offer to interview again. There have been some reports that he had some reservations about working with Gettleman when he was interviewed two years ago, though if that's true it's hard to understand why the Giants would bother even requesting to interview him again.
Former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy
When Shurmur was on the hot seat, but not yet fired, a source told SNY that McCarthy would likely get an interview, but probably wouldn't be a top candidate. Now that the search is underway, it appears his candidacy has a little more steam than expected. He is clearly the most experienced and successful coach on the list, with 125 wins, nine playoff berths and a Super Bowl championship in his 13 years with Green Bay.
The 56-year-old was a finalist for the Jets job last year, but there were some questions about whether he was burned out. After a year off, he appears re-energized and despite his problems with Aaron Rodgers late in his time with the Packers, he's still considered one of the smartest offensive minds in the league.
McCarthy will meet with the Giants on Friday, according to a report. He's already met twice with the Carolina Panthers. He'll meet with the Browns on Thursday, and they could be a huge factor since former Packers executive Eliot Wolf could get a promotion and become their new GM.
Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale
As SNY reported on Monday, the Giants are strongly considering hiring a defensive-minded coach instead of the offensive guru many expect because of Jones. There are some in the organization who don't want a coach who'll call his own plays anyway. As John Mara and Gettleman said, they're looking for a "leader" first, who'll leave the calls in the hands of a coordinator.
And that's why "Wink" Martindale may be a sleeper candidate. Aside from the fact that the 56-year-old been with the Baltimore Ravens for eight years and they've been one of the NFL's most successful franchises, Martindale will reportedly consider bringing LSU passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Joe Brady with him. Brady, a former Saints assistant, transformed LSU quarterback Joe Burrow into a Heisman Trophy winner and likely top NFL draft pick in just one season and is a big reason why the Tigers are about to play for the national championship.
Martindale will interview with the Giants on Saturday. He doesn't have any other reported interviews yet. If he really can guarantee Brady will come in him, he could quickly rocket up this list.
Cowboys defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard
There were reports that the Giants would be interested in Cowboys coach Jason Garrett if he were fired -- and they might be, but that would be a real tough sell to their fans. The 40-year-old Richard would be a much-easier sell. He's had a very successful run as a defensive coach, including running the "Legion of Boom" Super Bowl secondary in Seattle.
Adding the title of "passing game coordinator" and calling the defensive plays in Dallas has added to his resume, and for several years he has been widely viewed around the NFL as a future head coach (the Jets, Dolphins and Bucs interviewed him last year). He'd fall under the Giants' interest in a defensive coach, and his current and former players swear by his charisma and leadership.
He's scheduled to interview with the Giants on Thursday and has no other reported interviews. His contract is expiring, so he's available whether Garrett is fired in Dallas or not.
Patriots special teams coordinator/receivers coach Joe Judge
The 37-year-old is the biggest surprise name on this list, perhaps the most mysterious candidate, and the best example of the Giants thinking outside the box and not just using their tired, old search parameters. It's a good bet that he landed on this list because of an endorsement from his current boss Belichick (he's been the Pats' special teams assistant or coordinator since 2012) and/or his previous boss, Nick Saban (he was a special teams assistant at Alabama from 2009-11).
Hiring a special teams coach to be a head coach would certainly be unusual, though it worked for Baltimore with John Harbaugh. Hiring someone so young would be very unusual for the Giants, too. But if he's got a little Belichick or Saban in him, how can he be completely ruled out?
Like McDaniels, Judge can't interview until next week. He has no other reported interviews -- at least not yet.
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy
The 50-year-old former NFL running back is the latest hot candidate coming off the Andy Reid coaching tree, which has been pretty successful. Of course, Shurmur was a part of that tree, too, so the Giants might not want to go back to that again so soon.
Bieniemy is an interesting candidate, though. He interviewed with the Jets, Bengals, Dolphins and Bucs last year and many around the NFL think it's only a matter of time before he gets a job. Still, despite two very successful years as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator he doesn't call the plays there and doesn't have a history of working with young quarterbacks.
Since the Giants say "leadership" will matter more than those things, and presumably he'll bring along some Chiefs assistants and inside knowledge, his candidacy can't be dismissed. He's scheduled to interview with the Giants on Saturday, after interviewing with the Panthers on Thursday.