The Big Apple can be a tough place to live and an even tougher place to coach. After years of stability in New York, the Giants are now looking to hire their fifth head coach since 2015 as Pat Shurmur was let go after a 9-23 mark in charge.
The question is, who will ownership — and general manager Dave Gettleman, who is sticking around apparently — turn to in their coaching search? This is a historic franchise with every resource available and a roster full of young talent like Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.
Who could wind up replacing Shurmur? Here are 12 candidates to watch that could be the next Giants head coach:
The college coaches
Matt Rhule, Baylor head coach
Rhule was the Giants assistant offensive line coach in 2012 and has long been linked to this opening for obvious reasons. He’s the top-tier candidate out of college for most franchises but it remains to be seen if he’d actually leave Waco (not to mention have somebody pay his big buyout). He interviewed with the Colts and across town with the Jets in the past two years so at least seems open to the idea, but everything would have to align for him to feel comfortable taking over.
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame head coach
Kelly wouldn’t leave South Bend for any gig but as somebody who knows the pull of the Giants in the area, this one might interest him. He’s won pretty much at every level of football and has been a head coach for decades. His assistant coaching tree is diverse and he could probably assemble an excellent staff to help him navigate the Big Apple as a result. He was connected to several NFL openings a few years ago but the Giants fit the profile of a landing spot he could explore.
Nick Saban, Alabama head coach
Far-fetched? Sure. But Saban’s name has come up before and ownership would love to pull off the coaching coups of coaching coups. He would want full control of the organization, which actually sounds like a good idea if you’re the Giants given his prowess in that department. A nine-figure contract would also likely be in the cards if Saban wanted one last crack at the NFL before retirement age fully rolls around.
The former NFL head coaches
Mike McCarthy, former Packers head coach
McCarthy figures to also be an in-demand former head coach (and ones with Super Bowl rings on the market are a rarity in general). He did a great job early on in developing Aaron Rodgers and could do the same with Jones. His tenure in Green Bay did get stale at the end but he sounds energized after taking a year off and would do things a bit differently a second time around. It certainly helps that he has led a historic franchise before and is well connected within the league.
Jason Garrett, Cowboys head coach
He grew up in New Jersey, went to Princeton and was a Giants backup once upon a time so it wouldn’t be shocking if he tries to throw his hat in the ring now that his tenure in Dallas has reportedly come to a close. Obviously fans may not take too kindly to snagging the guy who didn’t get the job done for a division rival but he’s got an offensive background and surviving a decade in a pressure-packed job like the Cowboys counts plenty.
The NFL assistants
Greg Roman, Ravens offensive coordinator
The hottest candidate in the league right now, poaching Roman would add a creative mind who has been groomed by a number of successful head coaches. Though he doesn’t have the top job experience the organization might be looking for, the Giants might overlook that given how well he’s done in numerous stops. He’ll come highly regarded by a number of big names and could be the guy the team thought they were getting Shurmur with a better chance of being successful.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator
McDaniels was linked to the gig last time it was open and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him in the mix again. Though his Denver tenure ended badly, he did lead the Broncos to the playoffs with Tim Tebow of all people so getting New York back on the path to respectability shouldn’t be too hard. Somebody from the Bill Belichick coaching tree hasn’t always worked out but McDaniels seems cut form a different cloth than others.
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator
Andy Reid proteges have worked out okay before, including one winning a Super Bowl within the Giants’ own division. Bieniemy has cache as a former player and done a great job in helping turn the Chiefs offense into one of the best in the league.
Dave Toub, Chiefs special teams coordinator
A New York native, Toub has gotten several interviews in recent years and widely is viewed as one of the top coordinators in the league for his work in Kansas City and elsewhere. He’s dipped his hands into multiple areas and the Giants would have to like his ability to handle the entire team and not just one phase of the game. Andy Reid has not been shy in recommending him as a future head coach, something he did with another one of his coordinators in John Harbaugh.
Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator
Daboll has worked and won titles under two of the most successful football coaches of all time in Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. He’s done a great job in getting the Bills to the playoffs and has clearly helped developed the once super raw Josh Allen upstate. Not a flashy name by any means but potentially somebody armed with a plan to turn things around.
Robert Saleh, 49ers defensive coordinator
If the Giants want to try a defensive-minded candidate, Saleh likely tops the list. He’s turned San Francisco into one of the best units in the league and remains one of the young up-and-comers and is widely expected to get a long look this offseason.
Dan Campbell, Saints assistant head coach
He played for the Giants back in the day and remains highly regarded by former head coach Bill Parcells. He’s got an interim stint in Miami on his resume so he’s not totally inexperienced running the show and the Saints recent success only adds to his candidacy. While he doesn’t have the X’s and O’s background others might have, Campbell has long sense thought to be part of the next wave of head coaches due to his ability to see the whole picture and connect with players on a daily basis.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.