Patrick Graham, who is technically still the Giants defensive coordinator and assistant head coach until further notice, stood in the background at new general manager Joe Schoen's introductory press conference dressed casually and focused on Schoen as he answered every question put to him over a half hour, including what traits he would be looking for in the next Giants head coach.
Hours later, Graham undoubtedly changed into more formal attire for his official interview with Schoen, the fifth candidate to interview for the position and the only internal candidate to do so.
Graham, who was also the Giants' defensive line coach in 2016-2017, met with team president John Mara, chairman Steve Tisch, senior vice president of player personnel Chris Mara, and Schoen. The 43-year-old Graham is highly regarded inside the Giants team headquarters and had managed to orchestrate a defensive until that has been the pride and joy of an otherwise struggling franchise over the past two seasons.
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In 2020, Graham's first year on the job, the defense ranked ninth by allowing 357 points, 94 fewer than their total in 2019. They were 12th in the NFL by allowing 349.3 yards per game after finishing 27th at 377.3 yards the previous season, making that their best defensive finish since 2016 when they were 10th in the league by allowing 339.7 yards a game.
In 2021, Graham had to navigate around several player absences caused by injury and COVID. The Giants lost inside linebacker Blake Martinez and safety Jabrill Peppers to season-ending injuries. Injuries and COVID also shook up the available personnel in the defensive secondary, but the unit managed to keep pace.
The Giants confirmed that former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores is scheduled to interview at the team's facility on Thursday, and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who met with Schoen and team ownership on Saturday via video conference, will have an in-person meeting with club officials on Friday.