After insisting he was safe weeks ago, the bottom falling out in New York’s final few games all but forced Giants ownership’s hands as they terminated Joe Judge after just two seasons — capping off quite a string of bad hires (general manager Dave Gettleman is retiring after four seasons in the role) that have sent the once-proud franchise to the back of the bus.
Now the G-Men are in for a reboot that should stretch far beyond who they find to fill the vacant head coaching spot. There are some pieces to work with on the roster but make no mistake, the constant media presence of the Big Apple combined with a full rebuild make this a difficult gig no matter how much history is baked into the walls around the Meadowlands.
Who could the Giants turn to? Here are 10 potential candidates who can try their hand at fixing things in New York.
Dan Quinn, Cowboys defensive coordinator
Quinn grew up across the river in Morristown, N.J. and also served across town as the Jets DL coach over a decade ago. He’s got a unique brand of energy that is the opposite of the last several Giants hires and would be able to quickly win over the locker room and help lure free agents. Plus, nabbing Quinn could end up hurting a division rival.
Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator
Daboll is a Western New York native who has done a phenomenal job shepherding along Josh Allen and winning back-to-back division titles with the Bills. He is a former Bill Belichick/Nick Saban assistant, which might scare ownership off after the Judge experience, but he’s also branched out enough over the years that it shouldn’t be a full strike against him.
Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers offensive coordinator
He’s earned a ton of praise for his fast rise up the coaching ranks and ability to work with quarterbacks before, during and after games. Leftwich is just about to turn 42 but if the franchise wants a jolt of fresh air and to take a chance on an up-and-comer, the former first-round QB should quickly earn a call.
Pep Hamilton, Texans QB coach
Hamilton has done pretty much everything on the offensive side of the ball over the years but really has jumped on people’s radar as a head coach following the great work he’s done with Justin Herbert last year and keeping a Houston team afloat despite little talent.
Mike McDaniel, 49ers offensive coordinator
Kyle Shanahan’s right-hand man has filled a variety of roles over the years and gotten himself into prime position to make the leap to head coach. His Ivy League background will play well with Giants ownership and the success he’s had in keeping the 49ers' offense rolling could be a quality selling point.
NFL Head Coaches
Matt Rhule, Panthers head coach
Rhule has been on shaky ground as he tries to turn around Carolina so why not see if there’s interest in a return home for the NYC native? He coached the offensive line for the Giants in 2012 and came close to taking the gig when it last opened. This might be a beneficial move that suits everybody given the way things have gone in Charlotte.
Former Head Coaches
Brian Flores, former Dolphins head coach
While there are plenty of resume similarities to the Giants’ last hire, the fact that Flores has been a proven commodity in winning games with the Dolphins remains a difference-maker. He could come in with a hand-picked GM candidate and has already shown he could elevate the roster in New York after making an impact early in Miami without much talent.
Marvin Lewis, former Bengals head coach
If the front office needs some stability, Lewis has been a name that has tried to get back in the mix for some gigs and would offer just that in the Big Apple. While the playoff record is what it is, he did make Cincinnati a consistent winner in ways the Giants can only dream of.
Doug Pederson, former Eagles head coach
Obviously the Giants know Pederson well from his days in Philly and the tussles the two sides had in all those NFC East battles. He has an edge to him that could play well in the Big Apple and ownership would love the ability to hire somebody who has won a Super Bowl before and knows what it takes.
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan head coach
One of the early reports about Harbaugh’s NFL interest cited the Giants as a job he would have some interest in and if so, the entire organization needs to do what they can to make it a reality. He’s not a type of coach that stays in one place forever but the way he turned the 49ers from afterthoughts into conference title game contenders overnight is reason enough to try and make something happen.
— 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.