By Curt Macysyn
In an unusual twist, Washington Redskins’ head coach Jay Gruden may be the last man standing in the NFC East, with Chip Kelly already gone in Philadelphia, and Tom Coughlin and Jason Garrett holding on by a thread in New York and Dallas respectively. Coughlin has the longest tenure of the coaches in the division, but the Giants have not made the playoffs in four straight seasons either.
This week, former players like Chris Snee and Shaun O’Hara have come to Coughlin’s defense and that would seem to be an indictment of the roster that was manufactured by general manager Jerry Reese. In a clean break, the Giants may release both Coughlin and Reese, and give the opportunity to right the ship to a totally new regime. In the fish bowl that is the Big Apple, Giants’ co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, may decide just to replace Coughlin. If that is the direction that ownership takes, who are the candidates to replace Coughlin?
Payton has a Super Bowl championship on his resume, but his time may have run out in the Big Easy. Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees has publicly stated that he does not want Payton to leave, and Payton would require compensation, unless he was terminated by New Orleans first. Payton does come with a Giants’ pedigree, having served as offensive coordinator (2000-02) and quarterbacks coach (1999). Ironically, he also has connections to the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, so the Giants would seem to have strong competition for him.
The former coach of the Atlanta Falcons, who compiled a 66-46 record with the team over the course of seven seasons. Smith made the playoffs in four of the seven season he was in Atlanta, but could only garner one playoff win. Smith is about the same age (56-years-old) that Coughlin was when the Giants him in 2004, and he has a defensive pedigree, as he was defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, prior to becoming the Falcons’ head coach. Smith was out of coaching this year, and he also turned around Atlanta, making the NFL playoffs in his first year with the club. Smith has a track record and would command respect in the locker right away.
Kelly has been head coach at the University of Notre Dame since 2010 and has compiled a 55-22 record in South Bend in six seasons. The veteran coach took the Fighting Irish to the national championship game after the 2012 and had his team in the title hunt this season. Although Kelly has no discernible ties to the New York Giants, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport tweeted that “Brian Kelly is a name that GMs pair with that job, based on his traits.” Having handled the spotlight at Notre Dame, Kelly would seem to have the demeanor to handle whatever the Big Apple throws his way, although he may have to navigate the locker room early in his tenure.
This would be the quintessential hire by the New York Giants, a low-key and no-nonsense New Yorker. Born in the Bronx and educated at Syracuse University, Marrone rebuilt the program at his alma mater before being the surprise hire of the Buffalo Bills in 2013. Marrone led the Bills to the best record in a decade. Under curious circumstances, Marrone opted out of his contract with the Bills when given the opportunity after the 2014 season. Reportedly Marrone was a candidate for the head coaching opening with the New York Jets last year, but a well-timed and very critical article in the New York Daily News seemed to throw cold water on his potential union with Gang Green. With Gus Bradley getting a vote of confidence in Jacksonville, Marrone can no longer be seen as the coach in waiting with the Jaguars.
At 43-years old, Shaw is the youngest name on this list, but not without reason. In just five seasons at the helm in Palo Alto, Shaw has directed the Cardinal to three Pac-12 titles, as well as Pac-12 coach-of-the-year three times. Overall, Shaw’s record is a stellar 53-14, after he took over from the successful reign of Jim Harbaugh. Shaw seems to be getting more ink as an NFL coaching candidate, as his NFL pedigree began in 1997 with the Philadelphia Eagles. He also served as an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens (2002-05) and Oakland Raiders (1998-2001), so Shaw may get a phone call from the Eagles this week.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.