Pat Shurmur, the new head coach of the New York Giants, suffered his first setback on the job when his old team, the Minnesota Vikings, denied the Giants permission to speak with quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski about the Giants offensive coordinator role.
But wait, isn’t a potential move from a position coach to a coordinator’s role considered a promotion, jut like the jump from coordinator to head coach is? And could the Giants have forced the issue by throwing in the “assistant head coach” title for Stefanski?
Not according to the NFL’s anti-tampering policy, which state as follows:
If an inquiring club wishes to discuss an assistant coaching position with an assistant coach who is under contract to another club at any time prior to the opening of the employer club’s training camp, it will be considered a lateral move, and the employer club is under no obligation to grant the assistant coach permission to discuss the position with the interested club. At the discretion of the employer club, however, such permission may be voluntarily granted.
The Vikings were certainly within their rights to deny Stefanski permission to talk with the Giants, but the bigger question is why they did it.
Stefanski, a highly regarded young coach who is on the rise, was passed over by the team for its offensive coordinator role, the job going to former Eagles quarterbacks coach (and one-time Giants offensive quality control coach under Tom Coughlin) John DeFilippo.
One possible reason could be that the Vikings didn’t think Stefanski was ready to take on a larger role within their organization, though on the surface, that argument might not hold up.
A closer look at Stefanski’s NFL coaching history shows that he didn’t become a “full-time” position coach until 2014, when he was promoted from assistant quarterbacks coach to the Vikings tight ends coach, a job he held until 2015.
After spending the season as the Vikings running backs coach, the 35-year-old Stefanski switched over to the team’s quarterback’s coach, putting to use the experience he gained as the assistant quarterbacks coach in 2009-2013.
While Stefanski’s coaching progression might have deterred the Vikings from making him their full-time offensive coordinator, Minnesota apparently believes that with another season or two, Stefanski could be ready for a larger role should DeFilippo, who does have prior, albeit limited, experience as an NFL offensive coordinator (Cleveland, 2015) have enough success and be sought after as a potential head coaching candidate.
Whatever the reasons the Vikings have for denying Stefanski to talk with the Giants, New York will now turn to Plan B. Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley is considered a possibility—Staley and Shurmur’s paths crossed when both were with the Eagles, Staley from 1997 to 2002 and Shurmur from 1999 to 2001.
The Eagles though might be reluctant to let Staley out of his contract after losing DeFilippo and with current offensive coordinator Frank Reich being considered for the Colts head coaching job.
Darren Bevell, who was fired by Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, has also been mentioned as a possibility to become the Giants next offensive coordinator, though in this case, Bevell, who has experience calling plays, might continue exploring his options.
Another name that could surface and who, like Staley, would be a first-time offensive coordinator at any level (and who is a former NFL player) is Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach (and one-time Giants tight end) Dan Campbell. Campbell, who began his NFL coaching career with the Dolphins in 2010—he was also their interim head coach in 2015—interviewed for the Vikings offensive coordinator job this year.