4 Giants head coaching favorites inside GM Joe Schoen's 'wide net'

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Brian Daboll hand up cropped 8/21/21
Brian Daboll hand up cropped 8/21/21

Step 1 of the Giants’ rebuilding process finished on Friday when they hired Joe Schoen to be their new general manager. Step 2 -- finding a new head coach -- was already under way, even before Schoen finalized his deal.

It began late in the week when the Giants requested permission to speak with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and when they reached out to former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, as SNY reported. It will really ramp up now that the GM is in place, since Giants co-owner John Mara has promised his general manager will have “the flexibility to bring in the head coach that he wants.”

So whom does Schoen want?

“We will cast a wide net,” Schoen said in a news release issued by the Giants. “It can be former head coaches, first-time head coaches but, more importantly, it has to be a person who possesses the ability to lead an organization and the ability to motivate and develop players.”

Don’t be fooled, though. There are some favorites inside that “wide net.”

Here’s a look:

Josh Allen with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll during a training camp practice.
Josh Allen with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll during a training camp practice.

Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll

Mara promised no preordained “package deals” with his GM and coach, but people inside the league have long believed the Schoen-Daboll pairing had a strong chance to be the future of the Giants. As SNY previously reported, the 46-year-old Daboll is “very high” on Schoen’s shortlist, and with good reason after the work he’s done with the Bills’ offense the last four years and especially with young quarterback Josh Allen.

The ex-Patriots assistant is also a familiar name inside the Giants’ offices since they considered interviewing him for their head coaching job two years ago, and then Joe Judge wanted to poach him from Buffalo to be his offensive coordinator.

He’s already interviewed with the Chicago Bears and Dolphins, and unless the Giants rush an interview with him in the next 24 hours, he’s off-limits until the Bills are out of the playoffs. That could be tough if the Bills reach the Super Bowl, but don’t bet against Schoen waiting him out.

Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores runs off the field after winning the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores runs off the field after winning the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores

The 40-year-old Brooklyn native is making it very clear to a lot of people that he really wants this job. And he jumped to near the top of the Giants’ wish list the moment he was shockingly fired by Miami after two straight winning seasons there. In fact, they already let him know they want to interview him soon.

Flores doesn’t have any connection to Schoen, but the new GM reportedly reached out to him last week to at least start to build a relationship. Mara has a strong affinity for Flores, according to a source, which will matter even if he does give his GM autonomy to hire whomever he wants. In fact, Mara reportedly reached out to Flores this week, too.

Flores seems to want back into coaching right away and he’s already interviewed with the Texans and the Bears. He might be the most attractive candidate on their list and a potential slam-dunk hire. His desire to work with quarterback Deshaun Watson, the exiled Houston Texans quarterback who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by 22 women, could be a real tough sell to the Mara family, though.

Oct 3, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn against the Carolina Panthers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 3, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn against the Carolina Panthers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn

He was on the shortlist of all three GM finalists, according to a source, which is why the Giants put in the request to interview him before their GM was in place. Of course, he’s also on the shortlist for the Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, Dolphins and Bears. And the Jacksonville Jaguars wanted to interview him, but he turned them down.

Why is the 51-year-old Morristown, N.J., native so hot, considering his Cowboys defense was middle-of-the-pack? Well, it wasn’t that long ago that he took the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl in his second year with them and got them within reach of a championship.

Yeah, it was all downhill from there, but experienced candidates with a Super Bowl on their resume are hard to find. Some in the Giants organization think they need someone with experience after they collapsed under the inexperienced Judge.

Dec 19, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier walks the field before a game against the Carolina Panthers at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 19, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier walks the field before a game against the Carolina Panthers at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier

For all the attention on Daboll, Frazier is the assistant who has done the best job up there the past five years. The Bills have the No. 1 defense in the NFL and have been in the top three in three of the last four seasons.

Frazier is 62 years old, which might matter as the Giants start to trend younger in their offices. But many around the league have long thought he’s deserved a second chance as a head coach after he squeezed out a playoff berth during his 3 ½-season run as coach of the Vikings (late 2010 to 13).

He’s probably more of a fallback if Daboll goes elsewhere. He’d also have to come armed with an eye-popping list of choices for offensive coordinator.