Pat Shurmur was never the favorite to land the Giants' head coaching job, and his candidacy didn't generate a lot of buzz compared to some of the other coaches they interviewed.
But it now looks like he will probably be the last coach standing in the end.
The 52-year-old Shurmur is expected to be the next head coach of the Giants, according to a report on NFL Network. A team source confirmed for SNY that Shurmur, the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator, "likely" would be the winner in a coaching sweepstakes that has endured plenty of twists and turns in the last two weeks, though the source stressed nothing has been finalized yet.
The Giants do still have interest in Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, according to a source, but they are aware that he may be leaning toward the Indianapolis Colts. According to the NFL Network, the Colts are "expected to be his choice when an offer comes."
If that's true, then Shurmur and the Giants would seem to be a match.
If all that sounds fluid and unofficial, that's because nothing can be officially done with Shurmur or McDaniels just yet. Shurmur's Vikings will play the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game on Sunday, and McDaniels' Patriots will face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game. If their teams lose, they would be available to be hired by anyone immediately. If their teams win, they could be brought in for a second interview/conversation early next week, but they wouldn't be able to be hired until after Super Bowl LII.
None of those logistics, of course, would prevent back-channel conversations, and that appears to be what is happening. It appears that McDaniels is making his preference for the Colts clear, and they have reportedly decided on him as their top choice. Shurmur is also the front-runner for the head coaching vacancy in Arizona, according to a source, but NFL Network is reporting he's expected to accept the Giants' job if it's offered.
Everyone will have to wait until at least after the championship games this weekend to find out for sure.
That certainly appears to be the way it's headed, though, in what has been a long and strange search for the Giants. Shurmur's emergence isn't a shock based on the way this search has gone, but he wasn't one of the initial top candidates. McDaniels and Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia - who reportedly will be the next head coach of the Detroit Lions -- were higher on the Giants' initial list, and there was even a lot of buzz about Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who was a favorite of new Giants GM Dave Gettleman.
The Giants also interviewed interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo and former Broncos assistant head coach Eric Studesville, but neither of them were every considered serious candidates for the job.
Shurmur might be more than just a fallback choice, though, because he checks a lot of boxes on what the Giants were looking for in their next coach. He has plenty of NFL experience, including two years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns (2011-12), and would come to the Giants with a lot to prove after going 9-23 in his two seasons there.
He also is considered to be a brilliant offensive mind and something of a quarterback guru - two things the Giants could use as they attempt to fix their broken offense, and groom the eventual successor to their 37-year-old quarterback, Eli Manning. Shurmur has earned high praise for helping the Vikings succeed with journeyman Case Keenum at quarterback, just as he did as the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles (2013-15) with quarterback Nick Foles.
God really works in mysterious ways....let the journey begin.... I'm geeeked https://t.co/3tbOTPcSl1- Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) January 15, 2018
Shurmur, according to a team source, was very impressive in his interview with the Giants, which is why the team included him in their list of three finalists - with Patricia and McDaniels. When Patricia, once thought to be the favorite, decided to head to Detroit, it looked like it would be Shurmur's job to lose. A team source, though, told SNY not to discount McDaniels - but it appears McDaniels prefers the Colts, in part due to the presence of quarterback Andrew Luck.
Some around the league thought Shurmur would be a better fit in Arizona, and that he might not want the glare of the media spotlight that comes with a high-profile coaching job in New York. But that doesn't appear to be the case. A Giants source said the team felt confident all along they could convince Shurmur to choose them over the Cardinals, which is why they were never truly worried about the nightmare scenario of seeing each of their top three choices accept other jobs.
Another bonus for the Giants by hiring Shurmur: It could allow them to keep Spagnuolo, their very popular defensive coordinator. The two spent eight seasons together on Andy Reid's staff as assistants in Philadelphia (1999-2006), and Shurmur was the offensive coordinator in St. Louis in 2009-10 during Spagnuolo's first two seasons as head coach of the Rams.