Keidel: Breaking Down Possible Giants Coaching Candidates

Patriots' Josh McDaniels Should Top The List

Jason Keidel
January 03, 2020 - 1:36 pm
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The NFL's Black Monday -- a sordid affair of firing coaches and mining for new ones -- has become a solemn rite of winter. Since all news is local, we care only about how the Giants will fare in their coaching search.  After Big Blue booted Pat Shurmur Monday, there's been a conga line of candidates, growing by the day, regardless of interest or qualifications. Let's take a look at the popular options. 

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Matt Rhule

Despite getting thumped by Georgia's skeleton crew in the Sugar Bowl, Rhule has done a fine job reviving Baylor. The Bears went 11-1 during the regular season, losing only to national championship semifinalists Oklahoma, a game Baylor led 28-10. Then they lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and then to Georgia, which means their 3 losses came to two of the top-five teams in America.  

Phil Simms has branded Rhule a disciple of Bill Parcells - a name that still rings with reverence across the Meadowlands. The main obstacle with Rhule is he will likely covet the GM job, and the Giants still have one in Dave Gettleman. And if we've learned anything about Gettleman, it's that he loves to be the GM and loves to remind us of it. Gettleman would have to go for Rhule to rule and that's not happening. 

Mike McCarthy

He's the safe choice. McCarthy has 13 years of experience, led the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl title and has worked with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, which would give him instant street credit with Giants QB Daniel Jones. But McCarthy won that Super Bowl a decade ago and his relationship with Rodgers eroded over the years, as did the innovative nature of the Packers offense. And while his record is an impressive 125-77-2, his last two seasons produced a combined record of 11-16-1 with many of the players that went 13-3 this year. 

Plus he's 56, pining for a post in a league always looking to get younger. You want a coach with NFL experience, but not one with too much experience and lacking the requisite hunger to bag his first ring. McCarthy's alleged edge is his yearlong assembly of assistants already at his side, dissecting film and parsing personnel. He had a staff in Green Bay, as well, and got kicked to the vocational curb.  

Mike McCarthy
USA TODAY Images

Jason Garrett

Seriously?

Urban Meyer

The best of the bunch, Meyer has led four college programs - Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Ohio State - to unprecedented prosperity. He also lives for big games, posting an absurd 12-3 record in bowl games. Meyer is in a most rare and enviable position. He can all but pick his job or keep the one he has in warm rooms and high carpets of FOX Sports as an analyst. Meyer doesn't need the cash or cachet. He once said the Dallas Cowboys job is the one NFL gig he would consider, but Jerry Jones is the GM and Meyer has the stature to name his price and pick his personnel. If Dallas doesn't grab him, Cleveland would offer the paper and power the Giants won't with Gettleman in charge. 

Brian Daboll

The Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator is picking up steam as the days roll along. But the Bills are better on defense and the Jets have tried the hot coordinator within their division when they hired Eric Mangini, and it didn't go so well. Daboll has also coached under Bill Belichick. 

Dan Cambell

A sleeper candidate who is part of the Saints juggernaut this year as assistant head coach and tight ends coach. Parcells speaks highly of him, which may still matter to the Mara family. Campbell also started his career playing for Big Blue so the club knows him and most feel he would be a great motivator for a team with young stars that need leadership. Perhaps the Giants and the main nerve of American media, is not the best first gig for Campbell. 

Josh McDaniels

All of which leads us to the best man for the Giants job. McDaniels has been working for the best head coach of all time, Bill Belichick, and working with the greatest QB of all time, Tom Brady. Are there better qualifications than that? 

The Giants need someone who made their bones on offense to tutor Jones, the rising star who has traits you can't teach and will get the rest from McDaniels. 

To those worried about his doomed Denver years, there is a small army of sublime coaches who got canned from their first NFL coaching gig only to exact revenge on the NFL during their second stints. Don Shula, Tony Dungy, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick all found their coaching groove in their coaching sequel. (Carroll was actually fired twice.) There's another coach who got fired from Jacksonville, then wound up with Big Blue, choking two Lombardi Trophies with his raised right fist....

Shula coached 7 years with the Colts and was 40 when he took over the Dolphins. Belichick ran the Browns for just five years and was 48 when he took over the Pats. Carroll coached four years before joining the Seahawks. Dungy coached six years with Tampa Bay before joining the Colts at age 47. McDaniels was just 33 when he coached the Broncos, fired by 34 and has had nine years to learn the game from the czar of this century's NFL. At 43, he's at the perfect age to assume the headset for a second time. He may have five rings riding shotgun with Belichick, but there's quite a chasm between winning as an offensive coordinator and getting a ring of keys to the city as the head man under the headset. 

Just his Patriots pedigree, his championships by osmosis, make him the most attractive candidate. You worry because of his about-face with the Colts, who reached an agreement with McDaniels to be their next head coach, only to be stiff-armed by him at the altar. But perhaps McDaniels felt he wasn't quite refined enough to do the job and needed a few more seasons and seasoning under Belichick. It's quite rare for coaches to get a third crack at the NFL Rubik's Cube, so McDaniels wants to make his second shot his best shot.  

There are some concerns about Belichick's splintered coaching tree, with very few of his pupils finding NFL prosperity west of Foxborough. But consider Bill O'Brien - a contemporary of McDaniels - who took over the Texans at age 45 and has won four division titles in the last five years. O'Brien's record has improved since they drafted a talented QB named DeShaun Watson. McDaniels won't find a much better young QB than Daniel Jones, nor will any QB be flanked by a better halfback than Saquon Barkley. Add Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, standout rookie WR Darius Slayton and a healthy stalwart TE Evan Engram and it's hard to find another potential team with more weapons. And it's hard to find a better coach to deploy them than Josh McDaniels. 

You can follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonKeidel 

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