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Giants Casting Wide Net in Search for Next Head Coach

As surreal as it may seem, we are now living in the post-Coughlin era, and for the first time in 12 years, the Giants are looking for a new head coach.

Even without a head coach, the Giants are in a good spot right now as their coaching vacancy is almost universally regarded as the top available right now. Not only do the Giants have a franchise quarterback and elite wide receiver already on the roster, but the Giants are also considered to have some of the best ownership in all of football.

These factors likely make the Giants job more attractive to coaching free agents than the vacancies of the Eagles, Dolphins, Titans, Browns and 49ers.

The Giants will likely take their time in selecting a new coach, interviewing several top candidates and leaving no stone unturned. Here are a few of the names linked to the job so far.

Giants OC Ben McAdoo

The Giants wasted no time in considering the second-year offensive coordinator, as he interviewed with the Giants on Tuesday. McAdoo is just 38, which would make him the youngest head coach in the NFL, but the perception from some teams around the league is that he is ready.

McAdoo gained experience in the West Coast offense during his days in Green Bay, and brought it with him when he joined the Giants ahead of the 2014 season. In just one season, McAdoo improved the Giants from the 28th ranked offense in the league to the tenth. This past season, the Giants finished eighth in total offense.

Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Eli Manning has already voiced his desire for McAdoo to remain with the Giants, as the two-time Super Bowl MVP has really thrived in McAdoo’s offense. While his relative inexperience as a coordinator and lack of head coaching experience may be a turn-off to some, it’s possible promoting McAdoo to head coach may be the only way to keep him.

An outside candidate may wish to bring in their own coordinator, plus McAdoo is already generating interest for other vacancies – McAdoo has an interview with the Eagles set for Thursday.

Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo

Along with McAdoo, Spagnuolo will be interviewed for the promotion to head coach. Unlike McAdoo, however, Spagnuolo probably isn’t a realistic candidate.

While he has the head coaching experience McAdoo lacks, Spags’ three seasons leading the St. Louis Rams weren’t very impressive. As bad as his 10-38 Rams record looks, it was actually worse. Seven of those wins came in 2010, while in 2009 and 2011 he finished with abysmal 1-15 and 2-14 records, respectively.

Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo during training camp (Photo: New York Daily News).

Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo during training camp (Photo: New York Daily News).

Spagnuolo has also struggled as a coordinator in recent years. In 2012, his Saints defense allowed an unthinkable 440 yards per game on their way to becoming perhaps the worst defense in league history. His return to the Giants’ sideline wasn’t much better this year, as Big Blue allowed 420 yards per game, worst in the league.

Spagnuolo will get to plead his case to replace Tom Coughlin, but this is probably nothing more than a courtesy interview.

Bears OC Adam Gase

Gase’s name has popped up frequently over the past couple years when head coaching jobs would open up, and it’s looking more likely that this will be the year Gase finally makes the big move.

While Gase’s Bears offense ranked just 21st in total offense this season, he oversaw the renaissance of Jay Cutler, who posted a career-best 92.3 QB rating in Gase’s first season in the Windy City.

Bears OC Adam Gase speaks with his players (Photo: Chicago Tribune).

Bears OC Adam Gase speaks with his players (Photo: Chicago Tribune).

Prior to joining the Bears, he coordinated the Broncos’ offense in 2013 and 2014, where the Peyton Manning-led offense ranked fourth and first in the NFL in total offense, respectively.

The competition for Gase’s services will be fierce. Gase already interviewed with the Eagles, and has interviews lined up with the Browns on Wednesday, the Dolphins on Thursday and the Giants on Friday. The Eagles have already invited him back for a second interview, and it appears Philly is the favorite for him right now.

Panthers DC Sean McDermott

McDermott has spent the past five seasons with the Panthers, and has enjoyed major success. In each of the last four seasons, his defenses have ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in total defense, where he has overseen the emergence of players like Charles Johnson, Josh Norman, Greg Hardy and Luke Kuechly.

The Giants have also spent plenty of time seeing McDermott’s defenses up close and personal, as he spent over a decade with the Eagles, including two seasons as defensive coordinator following the passing of Jim Johnson.



If the Giants want to go with a defensive mind, McDermott is probably the best available. While a lot can be said about the Giants’ lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball, McDermott has the defensive pedigree that the Giants may hope can restore this broken defense.

With the Panthers on bye, McDermott can take interviews this week. He will interview with the Giants and Browns, and has also expressed interest in the Eagles’ vacancy.

Jaguars OL Coach Doug Marrone

Marrone was hired by the Bllls ahead of the 2013 season after Chan Gailey’s departure, and while he struggled to a 6-10 record during his first season, he came close to bringing the Bills to the playoffs in 2014 with a 9-7 record.

After the season, he opted out of his deal with the Bills, reportedly to find a better deal somewhere else. That deal never came, and along the way he turned his former Bills players against him with the decision and how we went about making it.



Marrone’s best coaching years came during his four seasons at Syracuse. He won a share of the Big East title in 2012 and won two Pinstripe Bowls before being hired by the Bills.

The Giants have already scheduled an interview with Marrone, as have the Browns and Dolphins. Despite his poor offensive line in Jacksonville and his disastrous decision to leave the Bills, it appears Marrone is still a realistic candidate to get a head coaching gig this year.

The Giants can probably do better, but Marrone is a name to keep in mind. For what it’s worth, while at Syrcause he coached three current Giants: QB Ryan Nassib, OL Justin Pugh and DT Jay Bromley.

Saints HC Sean Payton

This is probably the most exciting possibility. Since he’s still under contract with the Saints, the Giants and Payton haven’t had any contact, but the former NFL Coach of the Year has still been discussed as a perfect fit for the Giants.

Payton has spent the last ten seasons leading the Saints. During that time, he has taken New Orleans to the playoffs five times. The Payton-led Saints have reached the NFC Championship Game twice, and reached the top of the football world in the 2009 season, when they won Super Bowl XLIV.

(Photo: USA Today)

(Photo: USA Today)

Reports have suggested for months that Payton is looking to leave the Saints due to the legal drama surrounding team ownership.

Payton comes with some baggage, having missed the playoffs in two straight seasons. Plus, he was suspended for the 2012 season due to his involvement in the infamous Bountygate scandal, where he was aware of the bounties, but did nothing to stop them.

Still, a pairing makes a lot of sense. Payton has coached the Giants before, as he served as QB coach in 1999 and offensive coordinator from 2000-2002. In his first year as Giants OC, New York reached the Super Bowl.

Recent reports suggest Payton has been monitoring the Giants coaching situation, and considers the opening his dream job.

Payton won’t come cheap. Since he’s under contract, the Giants would have to work out some sort of compensation unless the Saints choose to let Payton go, which seems unlikely. The Saints are supposedly looking for a second-round pick in exchange for Payton. On Tuesday, Giants CEO John Mara wouldn’t rule out trading a pick for a new coach.


Minutes after writing this piece, news broke that Sean Payton is set to remain with the Saints despite rumors he could be traded. It’s not clear how much this changes the Giants’ plans, if at all, since they never actually had any communication with the Saints coach.


We are in the early stages of the search, but already there has been so much to discuss. Stay tuned as the Giants’ search continues.

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