It is Week 2 of the New York Giants' coaching search. They interviewed Steve Spagnuolo in New Jersey, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia in New England, and Pat Shurmur in Minnesota in the first week.
The initial list of candidates is clear, even though there is an outside possibility of an unknown bigger name entering the mix late. But right now there are seven candidates (not including others and the longest of long shots: Bill Belichick).
A look at the pros and cons of each:
Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots offensive coordinator
Pros: "Just look at his resume," said running back Shane Vereen, who played under him in New England. McDaniels has been part of five Super Bowl teams. He is known to be innovative and creative. Despite struggling in his first go-round as a head coach in Denver, it appears McDaniels has made a concerted effort to learn from his failures. In September 2016, Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report profiled McDaniels and detailed the Excel file on his laptop titled "lessonslearned.xls." There is a belief McDaniels can be one of these coaches who has more success the second time around. McDaniels also would be ideal to mentor and grow with a young quarterback. "He'll be awesome," one former player said.
Cons: There is a possibility McDaniels' personality and leadership ability may better suit him as a coordinator. It is also hardly a guarantee if the Giants want McDaniels, he would want the job. He has been waiting patiently for the right opportunity to make the jump out of New England. League sources don't believe that the Giants are his No. 1 choice. Maybe that stamp of approval for the Giants everyone expects from Belichick isn't there.
Matt Patricia, Patriots defensive coordinator
Pros: He is brilliant and successful. Patricia is working magic these days with a defense that isn't loaded with talent and started the season poorly. He's known as the smartest guy in the room (he's an aeronautical engineer by trade) and has strong relationships with players. Patricia also brings a think outside-the-box approach.
Cons: With former Patriots executive Bob Quinn in Detroit it appears that is Patricia's likely landing spot. He seems likely to turn down the Giants even if offered the job. There have also been some rumblings about Patricia's interviews last year going poorly. Matt will struggle as a head coach," one former player said. "Defensive guys there really lean on Bill." It's not as if Belichick's underlings have much success as head coaches.
Pat Shurmur, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator
Pros: His work with quarterbacks (Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Nick Foles) is well-documented. Shurmur could grow and shape the No. 2 overall pick with the Giants. He has the experience as a coordinator and head coach that owner John Mara deemed necessary. In retrospect, Shurmur's nine wins in two seasons as the Cleveland Browns coach may have been great working in those conditions. It is also believed Shurmur would be able to put together perhaps the strongest staff of any candidate.
Cons: Shurmur's public demeanor isn't all that much different from Ben McAdoo's. He's not exactly known as Mr. Personality. He could be overmatched handling the pressure of New York.
Steve Wilks, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator
Pros: His relationship with general manager Dave Gettleman is strong from their time together in Carolina. The belief is Wilks will do well in his interview, which is expected to be Monday. He is well-respected and knows how to command the locker room. That trait is an important quality for Mara after McAdoo's tenure. Wilks is considered a no-nonsense coach, which should play to his favor considering the problem the Giants had this past season. "He would be a great head coach. He wouldn't tolerate what they tolerated," said one NFL source who is familiar with Wilks' style as an uber-aggressive coordinator in Carolina.
Cons: Wilks doesn't fit Mara's criteria of having a candidate with head-coaching experience or somebody who has been a longtime coordinator. Maybe the Giants are willing to make an exception considering he was the assistant head coach in Carolina.
Eric Studesville, former Denver Broncos assistant head coach/running backs coach
Pros: Players like him and he possesses strong leadership skills. He has past ties to the Giants as a running backs coach from 2001-03. He's paid his dues as a longtime assistant, and even served as the Broncos interim head coach and assistant head coach during his eight seasons in Denver.
Cons: He's never been a full-time head coach or coordinator at the NFL level. The Broncos also bypassed him last season and hired Vance Joseph as their head coach and then fired Studesville earlier this month. He would be a tough sell.
Jim Schwartz, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator
Pros: He has guided some successful defenses, including this season with the Eagles. Schwartz has also been an NFL head coach with the Lions with some sporadic success. Defensive players love him. He's known as a master motivator and excellent tactician.
Cons: Schwartz is unorthodox and "complicated," according to one NFL source who knows him well. Working against him is that he appears to be in the second tier of Giants candidates. He didn't interview last week and is unavailable until the Eagles' season is over. Schwartz is also known to be hard-headed with an ego. He could clash with the no-nonsense Gettleman.
Steve Spagnuolo, Giants interim head coach and defensive coordinator
Pros: Players like Spagnuolo. He's had success in the past and is respected inside the Giants organization. He was a head coach in St. Louis and has been a longtime coordinator, giving him the requisite experience Mara desires. Spagnuolo also has a relationship with Gettleman, who spent 15 years with the Giants before going to Carolina.
Cons: Spagnuolo guided a defensive unit which finished 31st in the NFL and imploded this season despite lofty expectations. It was the third time in his last four years as defensive coordinator that his unit was last or second to last in total defense. This all makes Spagnuolo an extremely hard sell to a fan base and locker room that desires change.