It’s been nearly two weeks since the regular season ended, and the coaching carousel remains at a standstill. The Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears filled their coaching vacancies — and neither move initiated a domino effect of creating other jobs to be filled.
Thus, four head coaching jobs remain open, and those openings could stay in place depending on this weekend’s results. Here’s a snapshot of where things stand, based on discussions with several sources involved in each situation.
Indianapolis has narrowed its search to two candidates: Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. The plan is to gather intel this weekend, meet, then proceed Monday with either second interviews or simply by making a choice. McDaniels figures to be the front-runner, in part because if it was Vrabel the Colts would have made a move already. Based on the relationship between general manager Chris Ballard and McDaniels, as well as McDaniels’ prowess with the quarterback position, McDaniels has long been in the lead. The only issue is the Colts might have to wait until February to hire him.
Even before Jim Caldwell was fired, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia appeared destined for this job. One of the carousel’s hottest candidates, Patricia has a good relationship with GM Bob Quinn and is considered to be ready for a head coaching job. In addition, Detroit would like to keep offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter for his work with QB Matt Stafford. Vrabel is the other candidate still alive here. The real question is, was there a shift with Patricia being more interested in the Giants job? While Patricia won’t make a call until after his team is done playing, there has not been enough credible information to make one believe he’d pick the Giants over the Lions.
New York Giants
The Giants haven’t officially eliminated candidates, but it’s clear there are four left with legitimate chances at the head coaching job — McDaniels, Patricia, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Patricia has received a lot of love inside the building, but the search is not to the point where anyone is considered a favorite. In fact, Shurmur is highly regarded inside the Giants‘ building, far more than people realize. As for Wilks, the respect GM Dave Gettleman has for him has gone a long way, and he’s very much in the picture. This remains open, though a Vikings loss could force a Monday decision between Shurmur and Wilks.
This is the most open and methodical search, with owner Michael Bidwill stating publicly he’s taking his time. Expect full second-round interviews and no fast deadline. Shurmur is expected to be one finalist, and Wilks and Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak are well-regarded in Arizona. They could be finalists, as well. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher is the top in-house candidate, and Bruce Arians has stumped for him. Based on their deliberate pace, Arizona does face the prospect of losing out on a preferred candidate (possibly Shurmur) if the Vikings lose and they don’t accelerate their search. That said, the last candidate they interviewed during their previous search — Bruce Arians — worked out just fine.
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