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What's Next for New York Giants After Losing Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham?

Patrick Graham is leaving the Giants to join Josh McDaniels' staff in Las Vegas. So who might the Giants look at or their new defensive coordinator? Here are a few names.

The Giants won't be retaining defensive coordinator Patrick Graham after all, as the 43-year-old Graham is joining Josh McDaniels' staff in Las Vegas as their defensive coordinator.

With Graham now out of the picture, new giants head coach Brian Daboll will be looking for a new face to be the voice of a defensive unit that last year finished 21st overall down from its 12th place finish the year prior) thanks in part to injuries and an ineffective offense that couldn't stay on the field. 

So what--or more specifically who--is next for the Giant to lead their defense? Here are a few names.

Jan 6, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale during an AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Los Angeles Chargers at M&T Bank Stadium. The Chargers defeated the Ravens 23-17.

Don "Wink" Martindale

Don “Wink” Martindale, Former Ravens Defensive Coordinator

Martindale and the Ravens agreed to mutually part ways after the 2021 season ended, a split that, per Albert Breer of SI, was mutually agree to based on a philosophical difference between Martindale and head coach John Harbaugh.

Martindale, who was a Giants head coaching candidate two years ago, has been widely successful in Baltimore during his tenure. In 2018, the Ravens defense was tops in total defense and finished second in scoring defense. The following season, they finished fourth in total defense and third in scoring defense. And in 2020, the Ravens were seventh in total defense and second in scoring defense.

The 2021 season was a struggle, largely due to an abundance of injuries to both sides of the ball. Among those defenders who missed all or part of the season were linebacker L.J. Fort, cornerback Marcus Peters, defensive end Derek Wolfe, and cornerback Marlon Humphrey. 

That all contributed to the Ravens falling to last against the pass, 15th in scoring defense, 25th in total defense and 29th in turnovers. Martindale reportedly tried to compensate for his missing starters by playing more aggressively, which resulted in his defense being burned a little too often for Harbaugh's tastes. 

In 2021, the Ravens allowed the most big-play passes of 20+ yards (74) and of 40+ yards (16) thanks in part to the over aggressiveness. Despite that, Martindale is widely regarded as a top defensive coordinator around the league and will probably be getting a call from Daboll bout he team's vacancy.

Jan 2, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio watches from the sidelines in the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium.

Vic Fangio

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Vic Fangio, Denver Broncos Former Head Coach

Fangio might not have worked out as a head coach in Denver, who dismissed his last month, but he's otherwise had a successful career as a defensive assistant. 

Coaching since 1979, Fangio took his first NFL job with the Saints as their linebackers coach in 1986, a role he held through 1994. 

He then served as the defensive coordinator for the Panthers, Colts, and Texans for multiple years before moving to the Ravens in 2006 as a special assistant to head coach/defensive assistant, and then as linebacker coach. 

After a one-year return to the college ranks (Stanford) in 2010, Fangio was back in the NFL, serving as the defensive coordinator for the 49ers in 2011 and then the Bears in 2015 before being hired to be the Broncos head coach.  

During his time with the Bears, who had the 30th ranked defense before his arrival, Fangio helped that unit reach the league's top half, including a top-10 ranking in his final season in Chicago. 

Fangio, a 19-year NFL coaching veteran, has produced seven defenses that finished in the top-10 league-wide in yards allowed per game, and eight defenses that finished in the top-10 for fewest points allowed.

Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer waves to the crowd after the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings Former Head Coach

Zimmer was relieved of his head coaching duties by the Vikings after the 2021 season, but like Fangio, he has an accomplished record as a defensive coordinator, having served in that role in the NFL for the Cowboys (2000-20006), Falcons (2007) and Bengals (2008-2013) before being named the Vikings head coach in 2014.

Zimmer enjoyed his greatest success as a defensive coordinator with the Bengals. In 2009, Zimmer was named the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year by Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers and CBS Sports.com. That season, the Bengals defense finished fourth overall.

In 2011, the Bengals defense finished seventh in average total yards per game and ninth in points allowed. The following season, the Bengals finished sixth in total yards and eighth in points allowed.

While Zimmer has managed to produce as a defensive coordinator, the end of his tenure with the Vikings was reportedly messy. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune reported Zimmer's personality and demands of his staff and players became unbearable. While that might have been a result of the Vikings having slid off the rails, it could end up as a red flag for Daboll as he looks to build the culture in his vision.


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