New York Giants' Patrick Graham staying put, won't pursue head-coaching opportunities

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Patrick Graham will return for a second season as the New York Giants' defensive coordinator and assistant head coach after signing a contract extension with the team Tuesday.

Graham decided against pursuing any head-coaching opportunities for 2021, including with the New York Jets, who had requested permission on Monday to interview him for their vacancy.

Graham, 41, is an up-and-coming coach who just finished his first season with the Giants under Joe Judge after one season with the Miami Dolphins. Judge and Graham have a strong relationship, having previously spent four years together as assistants in New England. They have been in lockstep this season in transforming the Giants' defense into a quality unit, especially in the second half of the season.

The move assures the Giants some stability on defense, where they made massive strides over the past year with a revamped roster and scheme. New York finished 12th in total defense (349.3 yards) and ninth in points allowed (22.3) this season. They were eighth in defensive efficiency (50.1).

The Giants were 25th in total defense and 30th in points allowed the previous year.

Graham was credited with drawing up game plans that provided opposing quarterbacks fits throughout this season. The Giants did not allow a 300-yard passer this season over the final seven weeks, a span that included the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson (263 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) in a 17-12 Giants win.

The Giants also finished with a top-10 rushing defense and got the best out of talented but often underachieving defensive lineman Leonard Williams (11.5 sacks).

It all comes on the heels of an unusual offseason in which Judge and the Giants were able to finagle Graham out of his contract with the Dolphins, a move that was met with some surprise, especially after Graham's defense in Miami struggled last season.

But his first year with the Giants exceeded most outside expectations. It went so well that it was expected the Yale graduate would attract some interest as a head-coaching candidate.

The Giants (6-10) didn't want to lose him.

"That's kind of one of those bittersweet things. I'm like, 'All right, Pat.' I'm kind of one of those Stage 5 clinger girlfriends. I'm like, 'You're not allowed to leave me. I'm going to find you,'" middle linebacker Blake Martinez, who also had Graham as his linebackers coach in Green Bay for the 2018 season, said jokingly earlier this week. "But, no, I'm excited for him. He's an extremely smart coach. An extremely amazing coach. And I'm happy for him."

Graham's extension provides some continuity for a Giants defense that believes it's close to being really good.

The offense is a different story. It struggled this season, but coordinator Jason Garrett received a request Monday to interview with the Los Angeles Chargers, a source told ESPN. The former Dallas Cowboys head coach is expected to take that interview, the source said.