With the Giants' annual second half meltdown in full swing, the blogosphere has been rampant with the "Fire Coughlin" headlines that are sure to be ringing around MetLife Stadium this Sunday against the undefeated Green Bay Packers. As we all know, the only thing better than a little speculation is a lot of speculation. So with that, here are the three best candidates to fill the New York Giants' potential coaching vacancy this offseason.
Former coach Bill Cowher has been linked to the job for multiple years now, and for good reason. If Coughlin is gone at season's end, Cowher should be at the top of the Giants' wish list. The guy led the Steelers to eight division titles in his fifteen years and resigned one year removed from winning the Super Bowl. He was a disciplinarian and a player's coach at the same time, something that cannot be said for Coughlin. If Cowher wants to get back into coaching, the Giants would be an attractive opening for him, with their strong ownership and established talent base. Only time will tell if Cowher has any interest in giving up the less stressful life of a CBS commentator and returning to the grind of the NFL coaching ranks.
John Gruden, also known as "Chucky," has been working as an ESPN analyst since getting fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January 2009 and appears to be recharging his battery for his inevitable return to the NFL. The Giants have been playing with a severe lack of passion recently, and Gruden would take care of that problem pretty easily. Just listening to the guy's intensity when he's calling a game makes you wonder how he's not on a sideline somewhere. Much like Cowher, Gruden got his first head coaching gig at a young age and had success early and often, first with the Raiders and then with the Bucs. His best years came with Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson as his quarterbacks, so with another veteran like Eli Manning at the helm, I like the Giants' chances with John Gruden.
Kind of a wild card here, but why not give the Stanford head coach a look? Why not get a younger coach who could lead the Giants for fifteen years like Bill Cowher did with the Steelers and Mike Tomlin is currently doing? Shaw has NFL experience, having coached for 9 years as an assistant, with the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, and Baltimore Ravens. Granted he's had Andrew Luck as his quarterback, but in his first season as a head coach, he's led the Cardinal to an 11-1 record and a likely BCS birth. Before that, he was offensive coordinator and running backs coach, where he groomed 2009 Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart. Prior Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh has had a seamless transition to the NFL, leading the 49ers to a 9-2 record so far, so what would prevent Shaw from doing the same with the Giants next year? David Shaw should at least be considered.