The Giants face a decision regarding their vacancy at head coach.
It might not be about who, but about when.
With one of their three finalists evidently off the market — Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will be the next head coach of the Lions, according to multiple reports on Sunday — and two others currently coaching teams that remain alive in the postseason, the Giants have to be asking themselves whether they can afford to wait any longer to name the 18th head coach in franchise history.
Add to the fog the possibility that the other two finalists could land elsewhere. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been linked to the Colts and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is considered a strong possibility to wind up with the Cardinals. The Giants could wind up having to move on to Plan B.
That would be the “sleeper” choice Newsday first reported on Friday, most likely Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. He interviewed with the Giants last week, and although he was not considered to be among the top three choices because of his lack of head-coaching experience, his meeting with the team went very well. He also has general manager Dave Gettleman — who was the GM in Carolina when Wilks was promoted to assistant head coach and defensive coordinator — to vouch for him.
If the Giants wish to do so, they can hire Wilks at any time. That’s not the case for Shurmur or McDaniels (or even Patricia until he formally signs with the Lions), as the Vikings and Patriots have advanced to their conference championship games. Rules prohibit other teams from talking to them until next Monday at the earliest, when their teams either will be eliminated or in the bye week for the Super Bowl.
The Giants’ owners are known for being sticklers for rules regarding interactions with players or coaches under contract with other teams and would frown upon any wink or handshake deals with a candidate during a period when contact is impermissible.
There also is a chance that none of the finalists will be available to be officially hired until after the Super Bowl if their teams advance there. That would leave the Giants without a head coach in place for more than two months since firing Ben McAdoo on Dec. 4. Steve Spagnuolo served as interim head coach for the final four weeks of the season.
With plenty of work to be done breaking down the roster, analyzing what went wrong in 2017, preparing for free agency and the draft, and hiring a coaching staff to move forward, the Giants could determine that it’s better to have someone get to work right away rather than wait.
Especially if they think the difference between their finalists and their sleeper choice is minimal.