The Giants interviewed a fifth candidate to fill their vacancy at head coach on Monday. On Tuesday, for the first time in the process, a candidate will be interviewing them.
That’s when Matt Rhule is expected to sit down with the Giants’ brass and determine if he wants to make the jump from head coach at Baylor to the NFL.
Unlike all of the previous meetings, when coaches tried to sell themselves to the Giants by laying out their plans and goals, this one figures to have a bit different dynamic and urgency. If the Giants want Rhule — and all indications are they do — they will have to sell themselves to him.
If things go well on Tuesday, the Giants probably will have their 19th head coach.
There might not even be the need for a second interview. While co-owner John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman and vice president of football operations Kevin Abrams have been conducting the interviews, co-owner Steve Tisch has been firmly entrenched in the loop. He has spoken to most of the candidates by phone and had discussions with Gettleman and Mara before and after each meeting. Tisch might even be at the table on Tuesday, Newsday was told, which could speed up any decision-making.
That’s not to say there aren’t issues that need ironing out. There is the matter of a substantial buyout to Baylor if the Giants hire Rhule, but that’s something they knew about heading into the interview, and the sticker price won’t be a shock.
There is the staff that Rhule intends to assemble, which will be of the utmost importance, particularly with the offense, as the development of Daniel Jones is an important aspect in the entire search.
Although it is unlikely that the Giants will mandate whom Rhule brings with him, they’ll want to have a good idea (and likely have some of their own suggestions, which may include retaining offensive coordinator Mike Shula) before hiring Rhule.
Rhule’s position of strength in the interview comes from two factors.
First, he has a job as a head coach that he likes. He is the only candidate on the Giants’ public list who is assured of being a head coach in 2020. But he would not be meeting with NFL teams (he was part of the hiring cycle and a finalist for the Jets' job last year and was scheduled to interview with the Panthers on Monday) if he did not have a desire to make the jump to the pros.
Second is the timing. The Giants would be wise to name a head coach quickly. There were three openings in the NFC East and two have been filled by candidates who either interviewed for the Giants’ job (Mike McCarthy reportedly was hired by the Cowboys on Monday) or whom the Giants would have liked to interview (Ron Rivera was hired by Washington last week “before we could turn around,” as Gettleman said in a radio interview).
That means those teams are assembling staffs, too. The Giants missed out on some assistants they wanted when they hired Pat Shurmur two years ago because they had to wait until after the conference championship games to make their hire. Getting in that talent pool earlier this time — especially if they hire Rhule with his limited experience in the NFL — would seem to be imperative.
Rhule has been at or near the top of the Giants’ list since they started making one. He was a Giants assistant offensive line coach in 2012 who left a strong impression on players and the front office. They have been eager to hear his vision for the team and his suggestions for how the entire organization can be improved. The Giants like his energy, his leadership, how his players respond to him and how he built two college programs from rubble to success at Temple and Baylor.
Now they have to hope Rhule likes them as much as they like him.
Notes & quotes: On Monday, the Giants interviewed Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge in what likely was a go-through-the-motions meeting for both sides. The Giants are unlikely to hire a 37-year-old with no head-coaching experience. It could, however, be seen as an opportunity to get to know a rising member of the coaching ranks for another job down the road . . . The Giants reportedly have a Wednesday interview scheduled with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, but that certainly could change if the Giants and Rhule come to an agreement or if McDaniels lands another job first.