While the NFL put on a heck of a show this weekend during the Divisional playoffs, a few fresh reporters emerged about the head coaching carousel.
Let’s see where things stand.
Lions Reportedly Eyeing Matt Patricia
So claims SI’s Albert Breer, who reports that the Lions have notified their other head coaching candidates that they have been “eliminated from the search” with the expectation that the Patriots defensive coordinator will be their next head coach. Patricia, who was thought to be the front runner for the Giants job by the New York Daily News.
Earlier on Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network both had Patricia going to the Lions. Rapoport went so far as to predict that Patricia would probably accept the Lions job if it were offered.
Josh Daniels Reportedly Eyeing Colts Job
Rapoport reported that McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator, has already put together a preliminary assistant coaching staff and that the belief is he will land with the Colts. Multiple reports have indicated that the Colts prefer an offensive minded head coach to replace Chuck Pagano and that because of that preference, the scheduled interview with Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks didn’t happen.
Pat Shurmur a “Strong Candidate” for the Giants Job
So claims Rapoport, who also notes that the Vikings offensive coordinator Shurmur has his assistant coaching staff ready, a key development what with the Vikings set to face the Eagles in the NFC Championship game next weekend.
Shurmur, an offensive-minded coach, would be a good fit for a Giants team in that he has prior head coaching experience (with the Browns) and he’s a well-regarded offensive minded coach and quarterbacks guru whose recent experience no doubt caught the Giants eye.
Shurmur has worked wonders with the Vikings offense and in particular with their quarterbacks. Given that the Giants offense has vastly underperformed the last two years and that the club will have to soon turn its attention to developing a young quarterback (either Davis Webb and/or a draft pick) sooner than later, Shurmur appears to be the best fit.
Interestingly, Shurmur was reported to be a favorite for the Cardinals head coaching vacancy. However, Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak has reportedly emerged as a dark horse candidate per Rapoport and would be free to join the Cardinals instantly after the Steelers’ elimination in the playoffs by the Jaguars this weekend.
Giants Have a “Mystery Candidate”
So claims Tom Rock and Bob Glauber of Newsday, who add that while the identity of the sleeper candidate isn’t known, one possibility could be Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who is the only head coaching candidate known to have formally interviewed with co-owner Steve Tisch, who was otherwise absent for the other head coaching interviews according to the team.
The Million Dollar Question
The biggest question that no one seems able to answer is how long the Giants are willing to continue waiting for their man. If they prefer Shurmur and think they have a chance at getting him, they will have to do the unthinkable and root for the Eagles in next weekend’s championship game.
If however they want to have a head coach in place before the Senior Bowl on January 27, they could make a move to Wilks, who this week received a special endorsement from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin according to Rapoport.
Another option that no one has really discussed is if the Giants might expand their search to include Munchak and Mike Smith of the Bucs, two guys with prior head coaching experience.
Munchak spent three years as the Titans head coach and has been the offensive line coach for the Steelers since 2014; prior to that, he was the offensive line coach for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans from 197-2010, so his experience with fixing offensive lines could be an appealing trait for a Giants team whose 2018 opening day offensive line should look significantly different from the one that opened the season in 2017.
Smith was the head coach of the Falcons from 2008-2014 before moving on to the Bucs as their defensive coordinator. Smith has spent his entire coaching career working with either the defense or special teams. He began his NFL coaching career in 199 with the Ravens as a defensive assistant and defensive line coach, a job he held until 2001. the following season he coached the Ravens linebackers.
He then went to work for the Jaguars as their defensive coordinator from 2003-2007 before being hired by the Falcons for their head coaching job. Smith was hired by the Bucs as their defensive coordinator in 2016.
At the college level, he spent the 1988-1005 seasons at Tennessee Tech as their special teams coach.