Matt Patricia could be coordinating his final defensive game plan for the New England Patriots on Saturday night, before relocating four hours south to be the Giants’ new head coach.
It is unlikely, of course, that the AFC’s top-seeded Patriots (13-3) will lose to the fifth-seeded Tennessee Titans (9-7) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., in a prime-time NFL divisional round clash (8:15 p.m., CBS).
And the Giants have not hired anyone yet because by rule they cannot officially lock up Patricia — or Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, hypothetically — until either New England or Minnesota is eliminated from the postseason.
But consider: the Daily News first reported Wednesday morning that Patricia had emerged as the favorite to be the Giants’ next head coach, that indications were Patricia also preferred the Giants’ job to the Detroit Lions’ opening, and that McDaniels and Shurmur were the only other viable candidates.
Thursday, after the Giants had concluded interviews with Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks (Tuesday) and Denver Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville (Wednesday), reports reiterated that the search was down to three candidates. That was further indication of the Giants’ confidence their preferred coach’s feelings are mutual.
The Giants would not box themselves in to a potential disaster scenario in which Patricia (Lions), McDaniels (Colts) and Shurmur (Cardinals) all took other jobs, leaving Big Blue empty-handed. If the Giants were worried about that happening, they would have kept a fourth candidate, likely Wilks, in consideration.
And it would look terrible and inept for the Giants to narrow their search to three, only to lose all three to other teams and reopen their head coaching search and start over at square one.
Patricia, 43, meanwhile, can give the Giants one final encouraging audition Saturday night by devising a game plan to defeat Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry and the Titans, under the unique pressure and scrutiny of Patricia’s head coaching candidacy.
Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia prepares New England for the Titans.
Giving up 31 points in a loss, as Wilks’ Panthers defense did in New Orleans last weekend, wouldn’t exactly help Patricia. But if New England loses to Tennessee, the Giants would be permitted to meet with him a second time immediately and hire him if they still felt the fit was right.
In the more likely scenario, if New England beats Tennessee, the Patriots will host either the Steelers or Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game the following weekend. And after the AFC Championship, no matter if the Patriots win or lose, the Giants would be allowed to request permission for a second interview for both Patricia and McDaniels.
Shurmur similarly could meet with the Giants again after the NFC Championship Game if the Vikings advanced.
The Giants would not be allowed to hire a coach until his team is eliminated, but teams typically find a way to an agreement beforehand, as the Atlanta Falcons did with Dan Quinn when his Seattle Seahawks were headed to the Super Bowl three years ago, and as the San Francisco 49ers did with the Falcons’ Kyle Shanahan last year.
The biggest unanswered question about Patricia possibly is who he would bring as offensive coordinator to reboot the Giants’ offense and groom a successor to Eli Manning.
Alabama offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, 42, is a possibility given his seven years of overlap with Patricia in New England and the Crimson Tide’s recent national championship win with a true freshman backup quarterback starting the second half.
But the Giants’ priority is hiring the best man for the top job, which is why they again will be watching the bearded man on the headset intently in Foxborough on Saturday night.
Source: Ny Daily News