The New York Giants have had three head coaches since Tom Coughlin resigned after the 2015 season, each lasting no more than two seasons.
This time around, the franchise is hoping that streak ends.
Leading the charge to find the new head coach is 42-year-old Joe Schoen, who enters his first full week on the job as the team's new general manager. Schoen won't necessarily have the final say as to who is hired from among the six candidates --Bills coordinators Brian Daboll (offense) and Leslie Frazer (defense, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn--gets the job, but his voice will certainly be held and his opinions considered by team ownership.
In the meantime, Schoen is leading the search for that right person to serve as his day-to-day partner who will help pull the Giants out of what's been a mostly horrible decade of football.
Schoen, who in the last five years has had a front-row seat to watching Sean McDermott transform the Bills from being a joke into a contender, has a pretty good idea of what he's looking for in the next Giants head coach.
"First off, leadership. You’ve got to be able to lead the team," Schoen said during his introductory press conference Wednesday. "I think you have to be able to put together a good staff. I think it’s imperative that you have coaches that have coached in the NFL that have a proven track record."
The Giants have tried to find a solid leader that could command the room but have had trouble in that regard since Coughlin resigned.
Ben McAdoo ultimately lost the locker room by his second season as head coach.
Pat Shurmur, who initiated more of a relaxed country club atmosphere in the locker room by allowing games and lounge chairs, also lost control.
And Joe Judge, who seemed to have the right idea on what needed to be done to lead the team, was thought by some to be a little too excessive with his "my way or the highway" approach and his failure to adjust if things weren't going to plan.
Schoen also spoke about the importance of having a coach who can develop players.
"We have (nine) draft picks. It’s going to be important that some of those young players may have to be major contributors for us in 2022, so the willingness to play young players," he said.
None of McAdoo, Shurmur, and Judge were reluctant to play younger players as Coughlin did back in the day. But certainly, an argument could be made that the young players didn't develop well enough to where they were offered second contracts--that is, if they even finished their rookie deals.
The last Giants draft pick to get a second contract was receiver Sterling Shepard, their second-round pick in 2016. Since then, the Giants have failed to have a draft class stick around for the long term.
Not surprisingly, they appear to be on the verge of having the last of their 2017 class (tight end Evan Engram) leave via free agency while their 2018 class is on the brink of being whittled down to just running back Saquon Barkley if free-agents-to-be Will Hernandez and Lorenzo Carter leave.
Schoen, who said he believes in building through the draft and retaining solid talent, knows that's a practice that needs to change moving forward and one that not only starts with bringing the right players into the building but also having the right people to develop them.
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And with that, he also knows the importance of the next head coach having a plan to bring in quality assistant coaches that have NFL experience, unlike what Judge did in pulling in numerous college-level coaches that were left to figure things out as they went along in adjusting at the pro level.
This next set of criteria might be the best music to Giants fans' ears.
"I think being progressive in your approach to coaching, whether it’s with analytics when to go, when not to go, when to punt. I think you’ve got to be open to all that stuff," he said.
"You’ve got to be open to sports performance, strength, and conditioning. You’ve got to listen to the experts in their field. Those are some of the major qualities that I’m looking for as we move forward."
This last set of criteria is undoubtedly a big one. Judge and McAdoo were at times thought to be too conservative in their in-game management, with Judge, in particular, driving people crazy with some of his ultra-conservative decisions.
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An argument could also be made that none of the coaches since Coughlin were consistent enough in putting players in the right position to be successful, despite intentions to the contrary. Engram was a poster boy for this, and for proof, look at the countless times when he was asked to block defensive ends or how he was asked to run comeback routes, both not tasks that played into his strengths.
And considering the Giants have been among the most injured teams annually, sports performance--knowing when to back down or how to advise players on how to properly train and rest, is undoubtedly a big set of criteria.
This is perhaps one of the most difficult lines to walk. McAdoo ran mostly a soft training camp in which an argument could be made that he wasted padded practices. Judge was the polar opposite, with some players griping anonymously about how hard the practices were, especially as the injuries began to pile up.
“It’s going to be imperative that it’s somebody who’s in lockstep with me that I can work with and have constant communication,” Schoen said, “and we’re going to be aligned in our vision as we build the football team.”
The Giants won't come right out and say if there were communication issues in the past between head coaches and general managers, but there have been whispers of such strife existing, especially when the season has taken a turn for the worst.
While no one expects the coach and general manager to agree 100 percent of the time, both must be adults in trying to work through any differences rather than morph into adversaries.
The Giants won't finish up their head coaching search until Friday at the earliest, and both Schoen and co-owner John Mara believe they have a diverse group of candidates that can potentially check the boxes.
“All of our candidates bring different skill sets to the table,” Schoen said. “I’m not concerned if they’ve been a head coach before or if they haven’t. I’m concerned with getting the best head coach for the New York Giants.”
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