As expected, the Giants are back in the market for the right coach at the right time to continue the massive franchise rebuild project being led by general manager Dave Gettleman, the latter of whom is being retained by the club.
The Giants are expected to begin their search for a new head coach immediately, a search that team president John Mara promises will be extensive.
“We understand this a very big decision for our franchise,” Mara said in a statement released by the team announcing Shurmur’s dismissal.
“We’ve had three losing years in a row and, quite frankly, we have lost some standing as an organization. When you have three losing years in a row as we have, you face a lot of criticism. A lot of it is deserved. It’s up to us now to turn that around and get back to where I think we should be.”
One candidate who likely won’t be coming to the Giants is former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who is expected to be named the new head coach of Washington. Here is a list of five candidates who could draw interest from the Giants.
Jason Garrett, Head Coach, Dallas
Garrett’s days in Dallas are believed to be numbered after the Cowboys failed to make the postseason. Garrett’s contract is set to expire January 14, but the Cowboys probably won’t want to wait that long to officially relieve him of his duties and bring their new guy on board.
Garrett offers several pros that will likely be appealing to the Giants, the biggest being that he is an ex-NFL quarterback. With the Giants not expected to retain Eli Manning, a coach such as Garrett could work wonders in helping Daniel Jones in his second season and beyond by providing him with a “been there, done that” perspective.
Matt Rhule, Head Coach, Baylor
One-time Tom Coughlin coaching assistant Matt Rhule—he was the assistant offensive line coach on Coughlin’s 2012 staff—has a solid background in rebuilding downtrodden programs. Well, the Giants right now are about as downtrodden a team as you’ll find.
Rhule has 22 years of coaching experience, seven of which as a head coach of Temple and, currently, Baylor. He is 47-42 overall as a head coach, 28-23 at Temple, and 19-19 with Baylor.
In addition to having a growing reputation as a rebuilding specialist, Rhule’s coaching experience has spanned both sides of the ball throughout the years, so he would presumably have a little more in-depth knowledge what it might take to run the quarterbacks—he was Temple’s quarterbacks coach in 2007 before being promoted to offensive coordinator the following year, a role he held from 2008-2011 before making the jump to the Giants—just as much as it would to run the defensive line.
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Robert Saleh, Defensive Coordinator, 49ers
There was no bigger problem on the Giants this year than its young defense, which didn’t make progress desired. That there was still as much confusion with zone coverage in Week 17 as there was in Week 1, a rather telling statement, as was the repeated instances where the middle of the field was wide open for exploitation.
If Rivera, he of a defensive background, was the top option, as many believe, the 40-year old Saleh might not be a bad consolation.
Saleh’s NFL coaching experience began in 2006 as the Texans defensive quality control coach a spot he held until 2008 before being promoted to assistant linebackers coach for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
He went to Seattle for three years, where he was the defensive quality control coach and then spent three years with the Jaguars as their linebackers coach before being hired by 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan to be their defensive coordinator.
Under Saleh, the 49ers finished with the No. 2 overall defense, allowing 281.8 yards per game. They also finished with the eighth-best scoring defense (19.4 points per game).
The drawback with Saleh, just as was the case with Shurmur two years ago, is that the Giants would have to wait for the 49ers to conclude their postseason run.
That wouldn’t be a good thing for a head coaching candidate who, in Saleh’s case, would need to ensure he hires a strong offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach to continue developing Daniel Jones.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator
McDaniels was a hot commodity two years ago when the Giants were searching for a new head coach. Eventually, McDaniels agreed to go to the Colts but then had a change of heart, returning to the Patriots instead.
Still, the Giants must have liked what McDaniels had to say when they interviewed him the first time around. But the question that still needs to be asked is whether McDaniels is willing to leave the Patriots or if he’s holding out hope of succeeding Bill Belichick once he retires.
According to ESPN, the Giants have already reached out to the Patriots for permission to interview McDaniels.
Eric Bieniemy, Offensive Coordinator, Kansas City
According to ESPN, the Giants have requested permission to interview Bieniemy, who is in his second season as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, has worked wonders with his creativity in building an offense around quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Bieniemy is a former running back whose nine-year career included stops with the Chargers, Bengals, and Eagles. But like McDaniels and Saleh, would the Giants be willing to wait out the Chiefs' playoff run and do they want to stick with a coach who's rooted in the West Coach offensive system after the previous two coaches from that system couldn't get it to work here?