The next Giants coach will be busy this weekend.
The Giants themselves will be watching and waiting.
According to a source, the Giants whittled their list of candidates from six to three after meetings on Thursday. All three of the remaining candidates are part of coaching staffs that are participating in playoff games this weekend: Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
The three have yet to meet with co-owner Steve Tisch, who was out of the country during their initial interviews last week.
The three who interviewed for the job who no longer are considered candidates are Giants defensive coordinator and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and former Broncos associate head coach Eric Studesville.
Timing — and success or failure this weekend — could come into play as the Giants await a chance to secure their man. The Giants are unlikely to go through a full second round of interviews but instead are expected to have a follow-up conversation with their top choice (which has not yet been determined) and bring Tisch into the process. As long as all three candidates remain active in the playoffs, that can’t happen until the bye week before the Super Bowl.
NFL rules state: “No contract shall be executed, and no agreement to execute a contract, or an announcement of a contract or of an agreement for employment, shall be permitted until after the conclusion of the employer club’s playing season.”
If the Vikings or the Patriots lose in their divisional-round home playoff games this weekend, though, the eliminated coach or coaches will be available to speak with the Giants and theoretically accept an offer right away.
The Giants might have to move quickly, too. A report from a Phoenix television station on Thursday tapped Shurmur as the favorite for the job with the Cardinals. Patricia has been linked to the opening with Detroit; former Patriots executive Bob Quinn is the Lions’ general manager. And there is speculation that McDaniels would be a better fit in Indianapolis, where he could work with quarterback Andrew Luck and perhaps secure more influence in personnel decisions.
There are four head-coaching vacancies in the NFL, leaving open the embarrassing possibility of the Giants being shut out of their top three choices.
“Each situation is different,” Shurmur said on Thursday in his first public remarks since his interviews with the Giants, Lions and Cardinals (he also interviewed with the Bears, who hired Matt Nagy this week). “Every team right now that is not playing in the playoffs has quickly turned their focus to: How am I going to improve my team? These are teams that are looking for a head coach, so they’ve got that as part of their process. They were very easy conversations in terms of what your philosophy might be. But I approached all of them with the same mindset and then quickly put it on the back burner.”
None of the three is considered a perfect candidate, which is why the discussions among the Giants’ decision-makers are so labored. Patricia interviewed very well, a source said, but his lack of head-coaching experience might give the Giants pause. Shurmur has head-coaching experience (9-23 in two seasons with the Browns) but might not be an electric enough personality to command the locker room — let alone the news conference — the way the Giants want. And McDaniels had a rocky, turbulent tenure in his less than two full seasons as head coach of the Broncos. The Giants had enough storminess in 2017 to last them a while.
In any case, the Giants won’t be naming a head coach until either the Vikings or Patriots — or both — lose.
And if they wind up meeting in Super Bowl LII? Well, that could make it all the more interesting for Giants fans who thought they’d have no rooting interest in the game.