The Giants still have three more interviews to go, but at this point, those should be mere formalities. Matt Rhule, who interviews on Tuesday, remains the favorite to be the Giants' next head coach, just like he has been since before this process even started.
And now, more than ever, the Giants need to get that deal done.
The urgency to land Rhule increased on Monday when former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was hired to be the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. That wasn't a surprise to the Giants, who interviewed McCarthy on Friday and were interested in bringing him back for a second interview, according to a source. But they obviously weren't willing to make a preemptive strike to keep him away from Dallas.
McCarthy always seemed like more of a second choice to the 44-year-old Rhule, anyway, even though he was by far the most accomplished coach on the Giants' short list. The problem now is that if the Giants aren't able to lure Rhule away from Baylor -- or if Rhule instead chooses the Carolina Panthers after his interview there on Monday -- their options become severely limited.
The most attractive candidate left on their list would be Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who is scheduled to interview Wednesday. But multiple sources told SNY he might not want the Giants as much as they may want him. And beyond McDaniels, there isn't much there on their list. They've spoken with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, and are meeting with Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge on Monday.
None of those three have ever been a head coach on any level.
That's not a road the Giants can go down again.
It's too risky, just like it was four years ago when they tabbed the inexperienced Ben McAdoo to replace Tom Coughlin. McAdoo was a good offensive coordinator with the Giants, but he was lost as the man in charge in everything from controlling his locker room, to managing the game, to media relations. Bieniemy, Martindale and Judge are all fine coaches, well-respected, and people who know them say their presences are commanding.
But things can seem a lot different when they take a seat in the big chair for the first time.
And for every Sean McVay -- the young, untested coach who rocketed to stardom in his first job with the Rams -- there is a McAdoo. Or a Pat Shurmur. For every Kyle Shanahan, who is thriving in San Francisco in his first head coaching job, there is a Todd Bowles or a Freddie Kitchens. There are teams who can take chances on coaches like that in the hopes that they strike it rich.
But the Giants just aren't in that position right now.
They are in a position where they have to get it right. They need a proven commodity, not speculation. What they need, as GM Dave Gettleman described, is a CEO, a program-builder. What they need, as co-owner John Mara said, is "somebody who can come in and take control of this roster, help build a culture that is going to lead to winning … help us with our football re-organization during the process we're undergoing right now."
That's a big job and it can't be given to someone who's figuring out how to be a head coach for the very first time.
Rhule, of course, has done what the Giants want already. He built two college programs where he took full control of everything and built a winning culture -- most impressively at Baylor, where the culture he inherited was toxic, to say the least. Yes, there's a risk in hiring a college coach, since they don't have a long history of NFL success.
But at least Rhule has the requisite head-coaching and program-building experience. At least he knows what he wants his program to look like, and all the little things that go into being the man in charge.
And more importantly, given the rest of the list, it's not like the Giants have a better choice.
So they need to make the full-court press to get Rhule, a New York City native, out of Waco beginning when he arrives in the New York area on Tuesday to meet with Mara, Gettleman and assistant GM Kevin Abrams. And they need to do it fast, even if it means pulling the plug on their Wednesday meeting with McDaniels.
They need to convince Rhule the Giants are the place for him. They need to pay the "aggressive" buyout in his contract, which is believed to be more than $15 million. They need to make sure he doesn't end up with the Panthers or back at Baylor.
That was the Giants' plan from the beginning anyway. Now, they don't have any other choice.