The Giants brought the gavel down on Joe Judge, firing the coach after only two seasons. New York went only 10-23 with the former Patriots special teams coach at the helm and decided to go for a quick change.
The team will be looking for its 22nd head coach in its long franchise history. Since two-time Super Bowl leader Tom Coughlin finished his tenure in 2015, the Giants have gone through Ben McAdoo, Steve Spagnuolo, Pat Shurmur and Judge in only six seasons.
There’s no question the Giants again will look for another long-term keeper for the sidelines. Here are the nine best candidates to target for owners John Mara and Steve Tisch:
Ranking the Giants’ Joe Judge replacements
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan head coach (age: 58)
This is a no-brainer. If the Raiders can’t make it work, the Bears go in a different direction and the Dolphins really are not interested, Big Blue needs to go after the man in charge of Big Blue. Harbaugh will be successful anywhere he returns in the NFL, but it has to be a marquee draw with a chance to win big sooner rather than later. The Giants fit that bill and the former quarterback Harbaugh should feel confident he can help Daniel Jones become a star quarterback.
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator (age: 52)
With seven openings, this has to be the year for Andy Reid’s right-hand man and Patrick Mahomes’ key mentor, right? The Giants are overdue for a minority coach and Bieniemy would be the ideal candidate with improving Jones also in mind. He also has an affable personality, which is a critical element to surviving the NFL’s most challenging media market.
Dan Quinn, Cowboys defensive coordinator (age: 51)
There seems to be more of a blizzard around DQ returning to head-coach duties, one year removed from his time in Atlanta (which included a Super Bowl 51 run). Quinn has done a tremendous job turning around the Dallas defense. And he’ll also be hands off when it comes to getting more offensive juice around Jones.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator (age: 33)
Moore also has been sharp on the other side of the ball for Mike McCarthy. He was deemed too young for many teams in last year’s hiring cycle, but he is much stronger in play after getting a healthy Dak Prescott back on track in an explosive attack. The youth isn’t a concern as the former star Boise State quarterback has proved he’s mature beyond his years.
Brian Flores, former Dolphins head coach (age: 40)
Hiring from the Bill Belichick tree didn’t work with Judge. But Flores was doing fine work in helping a rebuilding Miami team overachieve the last two seasons. The Giants can take advantage of the Dolphins’ short-sided mistake and empower Flores. He would keep adding to their defensive momentum, but also put the right staff in place to boost Jones in the right way.
Doug Pederson, former Eagles head coach (age: 53)
The Giants should stop thinking about their former selves and think more about division rivals’ successes. The current Cowboys are good targets, but so is Pederson, one year removed from his Super Bowl 52-winning tenure in Philadelphia. There’s a good chance he can be this year’s McCarthy.
Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator (age: 46)
Daboll has done great work with Josh Allen and is getting closer to getting his worthy chance. He would make the most of Jones’ arm and mobility and make sure the Giants upgrade everything needed around him.
Mike McDaniel, 49ers offensive coordinator (age: 38)
McDaniel is a bright star shining under Kyle Shanahan. The Yale graduate is smart and pedigreed, also working under Quinn in Atlanta. He also has an NFC East tie, helping Mike Shanahan in Washington, too. Here’s another strong candidate with Jones in mind.
Kevin O’Connell, Rams offensive coordinator (age: 36)
Keeping up with the Jones’ theme? Hiring Sean McVay assistants also is working, folks. (See Zac Taylor, Matt LaFleur and — even with the disappointing Chargers ending — Brandon Staley). The Giants have a big decision to make most post-Judge: another fresh face, or going with some with big-time winning experience.