For the longest time it seemed like Matt Rhule was on a collision course to be the next head coach of the Giants. Now, for the Giants, it's on to Plan B … or C … or D.
With the shocking news on Tuesday morning that Rhule wouldn't be interviewing with the Giants anymore because he was in negotiations to become the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, the Giants were left to scramble for other options. And the options don't appear to be nearly as good.
So what will the Giants do now? Well, they are staring at a dwindling pool of candidates that probably won't include any of their top three choices. Rhule is now gone, former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is now the head coach of the Cowboys, and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels still seems like a bad fit. That leaves them looking at the second tier of their short list or expanding their search.
Now, that's not necessarily a guaranteed disaster. The Indianapolis Colts, after all, struck gold two years ago when McDaniels backed out of their head coaching job and they audibled to then-Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich. And the list of successful NFL head coaches who weren't necessarily their team's primary target is long.
Still, it's not their ideal scenario. Here's a look at where the Giants might turn:
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels
The Giants really like him, but they know he might not like them and their power structure. He seems to be looking for control and the chance to bring a friend to run the front office. GM Dave Gettleman has said he's willing to give up some power if it's in the best interests of the team. But how much? To lure McDaniels, he might have to agree to a diminished role after the draft and accept McDaniels' choice of his successor. It's a lot to ask, and it's not clear at all that ownership would even want to go that route.
Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale
He was part of the second tier of candidates, but according to an NFL source he was the most impressive in the interviews. He's a commanding presence, has a lot of NFL experience, and a source said he did tell the Giants his intention was to bring in LSU passing coordinator Joe Brady -- the 30-year-old wizard who transformed quarterback Joe Burrow into a Heisman Trophy winner -- as his offensive coordinator. If the Giants are spurned by Rhule and don't want to waste time, they could turn right to "Wink".
Former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett
Yes, the Giants know this would be a tough sell and might enrage their fanbase. They have always liked Garrett, though, since his days as a Giants backup quarterback, and even then people in the organization were touting him as a potentially great future head coach. His long Cowboys tenure was disappointing, though, so this is bad timing for him. Prior to the search, a team source told SNY that Garrett might get an interview if he was fired in time by the Cowboys, but probably wouldn't get the job. Could that change if Rhule turns them down? Possibly. He'd still be a hard sell for fans.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
Go ahead and laugh. This dream scenario remains very, very unlikely. Still, it's an NFL rumor that just will not die. And at this point, if Rhule says no and the Giants have to expand their search, isn't it worth a call up to New England to see if he's available? A trade would cost the Giants the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, plus more. The Patriots could use that pick to draft a successor to Tom Brady. Wouldn't that be a win-win for both sides? A fantasy? Sure, but how do you not at least look into it?
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy
He made a strong impression on the Giants in his interview too, according to a source, but he remains on the periphery in this search. He may be the "leader" the Giants are looking for, but he runs an offense that is really run by his head coach. Also, there's some sentiment in the organization to shy away from another offensive coach (one source said Gettleman prefers a defensive coach) -- especially another one off the Andy Reid tree.
Cowboys passing game coordinator Kris Richard
He is well-respected around the league and many think he should be a head coach, but it looks like he'll have to wait another round. There is some buzz that the Giants are interested in him as a defensive coordinator, if their eventual head coach is open to suggestions. He might stay in Dallas with McCarthy, too.
Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge
Interviewing this 38-year-old always seemed more like a down-the-road audition than anything else. It's hard to see any scenario where he ends up as the Giants' head coach. Besides, he's reportedly now the top candidate to take over at his alma mater, Mississippi State.