The Giants are taking Monday off from their head coaching search, and they conceivably could be ready to end it by mid-week. That makes this the perfect time to take a look at where their search stands, and to answer a few important questions about who their next head coach might be:
Who have they interviewed?
So far they've interviewed four candidates: Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
Who else do they plan to interview?
They plan to interview Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks on Tuesday and former Broncos assistant head coach/RBs coach Eric Studesville on Wednesday. Both interviews will take place in the New York/New Jersey area, according to a team source.
Maybe Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. They've asked for permission to interview him, but they couldn't work out the scheduling to speak to him over the weekend. Now he's not available until the Eagles' season is over.
They couldn't work out the scheduling with Schwartz? Really?
I know, right? Sounds like either he's not so interested in them, or they're not so interested in him. Odd, since I heard (as did others) early on that he was "one of the favorites" for the job.
Are they going to try to get Bill Belichick?
Ha! Good one.
No, really, are they going to try to get Bill Belichick?
Oh wait, that's a serious question? OK. No. I know, I read the ESPN story that makes the Patriots look like a Game of Thrones storyline (I'm assuming … I've never seen Game of Thrones). The idea of him leaving the Patriots for the Giants made for a few days of talk-radio and tabloid ridiculousness, but in the real world it's just not happening. He's not going to be available, nor would he likely want to be available.
Are you 100 percent certain of that?
I learned a long time ago to never say never, especially when massive egos and narcissistic people are involved. So no, I am not. Maybe 97.4 percent certain.
OK, then who's the favorite?
Good question. I heard early on in the search that McDaniels, Schwartz and Wilks were the most likely to be hired. I somewhat dismissed Wilks because he didn't fit the criteria laid out by John Mara (head coaching experience or "significant" coordinator experience). Mara said without that "the odds are really stacked against you." Wilks doesn't have that, but from what I hear, new GM Dave Gettleman loves him and his hope is that Wilks wows Mara in the interview and convinces him that experience isn't necessary.
Why not McDaniels?
He was supposed to be the hottest candidate. It might be McDaniels. I know there are some in the Giants organization with concerns about hiring a Belichick assistant. They certainly don't have a great track record on their own. McDaniels also was part of the Denver Broncos' braintrust when they made Tim Tebow a first-round pick, so that's not a selling point for a team in search of their quarterback of the future, either.
Still, they respect his coaching ability -- especially on offense -- and think he could get more out of Eli Manning and help develop Manning's replacement (although maybe not choose him). He has options, though, and the Colts are thought to be a good one. Many think that's where he'll end up. Working with Andrew Luck at QB might be more appealing than working with an old Manning and an unknown future. The Bears were interested as well, but they are reportedly hiring Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.
Matt Patricia, maybe?
I always had a hard time imagining him getting the job, knowing the tabloid back pages the next day would be a picture of him in that T-shirt depicting Roger Goodell wearing a clown nose. Anyway, he's reportedly going to be hired by the Detroit Lions, whose GM -- Bob Quinn -- used to work in New England.
Pat Shurmur, then?
Sure, but there's already a report that he's the favorite to land the Arizona Cardinals job. From the beginning, I didn't get the sense that he was crazy about the idea of coaching in New York, but as his options dwindle that could change. The Lions and Bears were also interested. He does have a great reputation as a brilliant offensive mind and quarterback guru, so he's more attractive to the Giants than many think.
OK, perhaps Steve Wilks?
Perhaps. In fact, as I said earlier, he might be the most likely at this point. Maybe we all should've gone with the first assumption, since his name has been tied to Gettleman's since before the Giants hired their new GM. His interview just needs to be good enough to convince Mara to tell the world "Remember all that stuff I said about wanting an experienced coach? Forget it." Wilks, by the way, is also being pursued by the Cardinals and Colts, and maybe the Lions, so it's possible he'll have options.
Is Eric Studesville really an option?
I don't think so. I hate to dismiss any candidate as a product of the "Rooney Rule," which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate, but I think that's partly at play here. Remember, his interview was snowed out last week, so it's possible he was added to the list to make the Giants compliant in case they didn't land an interview with Wilks. I know the Giants had great respect for him when he was their running backs coach in 2001-03, but I don't think they view him as their next head coach.
Any shot it'll be Steve Spagnuolo?
He's a great guy and a lot of people in the Giants organization love him, but he'd be an impossible sell. His recent record as defensive coordinator isn't good, his one stint as a head coach was terrible, and most of the Giants' discipline issues were on his side of the ball last year. He needed to go 4-0 as the interim head coach to really be in the mix.
What's the real deal with Jim Schwartz?
Hard to say, really. There are some in the Giants organization who loved him, and his name has come up before in searches for head coach and defensive coordinator. He was on their radar early, according to sources, and yes some considered him "one of the favorites." It was odd that they waited three days before requesting permission to talk to him, and even stranger that they supposedly couldn't work out the scheduling for a weekend interview, according to a source -- especially since Sunday seemed to be open for both of them.
I know the Giants weren't thrilled when reports began to surface that he was their top choice -- which was an overstatement (he was "one of the favorites," not "the favorite," I was told). Still, they wouldn't have asked to speak to him if they weren't interested or had decided to just dismiss his candidacy. They weren't going to waste their time just to pick his brain about the Eagles defense. Maybe he's not really interested, but it's not like he has other options -- the Cardinals are the only team known to have interviewed him so far. He seems to be a back-burner candidate now, but no one will rule him out, so stay tuned. If the Eagles lose this weekend and the Giants don't have a coach by then, he could be right back in the mix.
Any other dark horse candidates?
Two years ago, Nick Saban tried to back-door his way into the Giants' job via boxing promoter Bob Arum (as told by comedian Tom Arnold, and no I'm not making that up). Who knows what he'll be thinking after Alabama plays in the NCAA championship game on Monday night?
Best guess on who gets the job?
No. Not really. … At this point, I'd lean towards Wilks, mostly because I think all the other candidates are leaning elsewhere and I think if he has impressed Gettleman as much as I'm told, then he'll likely impress the rest of the Giants organization as well.