The offense is broken again, and the Giants’ next head coach must fix it or bring someone along who can.
The Giants’ owners, GM Dave Gettleman and assistant GM Kevin Abrams surely are grilling the candidates in these interviews with questions about philosophy, influences, and plans for building a roster, culture and staff.
But the most important question arguably is one of the simplest: If you are our head coach, how will we score points?
Giants president John Mara famously said after the 2013 season that the Giants’ offense was “broken,” referring to Kevin Gilbride’s 28th-ranked offense that year, despite five consecutive top-10 finishes from 2008-2012 and two Super Bowls under Gilbride’s belt.
Gilbride retired before he could be fired. Ben McAdoo came from Green Bay and took his place with Odell Beckham Jr. arriving as Jerry Reese’s first-round pick out of LSU. And there were encouraging improvements in McAdoo’s two seasons as OC, all the way up to the NFL’s 6th-best offense in 2015 (26.2 points per game).
But once McAdoo took over as head coach, the Giants’ offense nose-dived to 26th overall (19.4 points per game) in 2016 even with Beckham playing the entire season and 31st this year (15.4 points per game) with Beckham sidelined for 12 of the 16 games.
The next Giants head coach needs to find a way to put points on the board.
(Al Bello/Getty Images)
And the Giants’ brass must remember this even though it feels like they have a thousand leaks to plug to get back on track: this new coach — or that coach’s offensive coordinator if it’s a defensive head coach — needs to build a respectable and sustainable offense and also develop a young quarterback to succeed Eli Manning.
This is why New England Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and Minnesota Vikings OC Pat Shurmur hold a built-in advantage of sorts: they are the only two head coach candidates who have interviewed with the Giants who have histories of developing quarterbacks, extensive experience running their own offenses and would arrive in full control on the side of the ball that has failed the Giants too often lately.
McDaniels’ track record of tailoring successful game plans to the Patriots’ opponents is tough to argue against, too.
This doesn’t make Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia an unattractive candidate and it didn’t prevent the Giants from interviewing Carolina Panthers DC Steve Wilks on Tuesday. But a major part of the Giants’ evaluations of those candidates has to be whom they plan to hire as their offensive coordinators.
This goes especially for Patricia, 43, since he is not a done deal to the Detroit Lions as reports have indicated and is a much stronger candidate for the Giants job than many believe. Patricia worked his first season in New England in 2004 as an offensive assistant and his second as assistant offensive line coach before moving to defense for good.
It hasn’t been defined who would run Patricia’s offense once he takes over his own team, but a name to watch that’s fresh on everyone’s minds is Alabama’s Brian Daboll.
Daboll, 42, offensive coordinator of Nick Saban’s national champion Crimson Tide, overlapped with Patricia in New England for seven seasons, most recently as assistant head coach in 2013 and tight ends coach from 2014-16.
Prior to that, Daboll spent four seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator: two with Cleveland (2009-10), one with Miami (2011) and one in Kansas City (2012). None of his offenses ranked higher than 20th in the NFL in their respective seasons, but they were run-heavy — top-six in three of the four years — and Gettleman wants the Giants to get back to pounding the ball and playing great defense.
Daboll also is riding high since his Alabama offense outscored Georgia 26-10 after halftime to win Monday night’s national title in overtime, 26-23, behind true freshman backup QB Tua Tagovailoa. Saban replaced starter Jalen Hurts after he had missed several throws in a scoreless first half for the Tide, and with Tagovailoa under center, Daboll opened up the offense and the Hawaiian also improvised impressively.
Tagovailoa capped the drama by beating a Georgia Cover-2 defensive look (two safeties high) with a 41-yard overtime touchdown pass down the left sideline to DeVonta Smith for the win. This made me think of when the Giants’ Victor Cruz said in Week 5 of the 2016 season that base Cover-2 defenses were shutting down McAdoo’s offense; or when Beckham said in Week 4 this fall that Bucs defenders told him the Giants offense was predictable.
Wilks, of course, drops a trump card in this head coaching search if he were to persuade Norv Turner to get back into coaching as the Giants’ OC. Turner turns 66 years old in May, but his prowess with quarterbacks and offenses goes back to his two Super Bowls with Troy Aikman and the early-90s Cowboys.
Turner has worked 26 years for nine franchises, calling plays for most of them, and though he has just a 114-122-1 record as a head coach, he would be a huge steal as offensive coordinator. It would almost be the reverse of what young offensive-minded Rams head coach Sean McVay did in L.A., hiring veteran Wade Phillips, 70, to run the D.
Wilks might be competing with his current employer for Turner’s services, however. The Charlotte Observer is reporting Panthers coach Ron Rivera coud hire Turner to replace fired OC Mike Shula, with Turner having a brother and nephew already on staff.
McDaniels, it would seem, remains a serious possibility for the Giants especially with his options dwindling. He interviewed with the Bears, Giants and Colts. The Bears just hired Chiefs OC Matt Nagy, and David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago reported Tuesday that Indianapolis also was “all in on hiring” Nagy but chose the Windy City due to uncertainty about Andrew Luck’s health and Chicago’s superior roster.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia
That could mean the Giants and McDaniels are meant for each other, or it could keep McDaniels in New England and the Giants may decide they prefer someone else, likely Patricia or Shurmur.
Whoever it is, though, above all needs to bring a convincing plan for putting points on the board.