Brian Flores walked into Thursday’s interview with the Giants as a leading contender to be their next head coach, and he might have emerged as the favorite.
The Giants can hire a coach at any time now, having fulfilled the Rooney Rule by interviewing an external minority candidate in person.
Will Flores be their next head coach? It could depend on how compatible he and new GM Joe Schoen find themselves after an interview that went well, by all accounts, but covered tough questions about Flores’ Miami firing.
The Giants did significant background work on Flores prior to the interview, calling members of the support staff and assistant coaches for intel, and they received positive feedback.
But that was necessary because of negative stories circulating particularly about Flores’ working relationship with Dolphins GM Chris Grier.
Whether Flores helped the Giants separate fact from fiction could determine whether a consensus has been reached among the four Giants officials conducting the interviews: Schoen, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, and VP of player personnel Chris Mara.
“Listen, [Schoen] is not going to hire anybody that we do not want and we are certainly not going to hire anybody that he does not want, ”Mara said Wednesday. “But ownership always has the final approval over any decision like that. That’s just not going to change. ”
Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was the first Giants finalist, is the only offensive coach in the process, has an advocate in Schoen, and has not been hired elsewhere yet.
Still, league sources believe he is a favorite to land the Dolphins job, and no rave reviews came back from his Tuesday Giants interview in East Rutherford, NJ So momentum seemingly would have to shift for him to be the pick.
Dan Quinn abruptly removed his name from consideration by deciding to stay in Dallas as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator.
Quinn took the Giants off his board, not the other way around, a source said, deciding to wait for an optimal situation.
He’ll go back to work under Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, who reportedly received a vote of confidence from owner Jerry Jones for a third season.
The Giants have one scheduled interview remaining: Friday’s in-person visit from Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Frazier can not be counted out. He and Schoen spent five years together with Buffalo, and he has head coaching experience with the Vikings (21-32-1 from 2010-13).
Flores seems to have clear support in the building, however, most notably from ownership.
Mara contacted Flores personally last week before Schoen’s hiring, aware that Flores wanted the Giants and that his three GM finalists all planned to interview him.
“I just wanted to let him know that before you make a decision, just know that we have interest in you,” Mara said Wednesday.
Flores went about .500 (24-25) in three seasons with the Dolphins but won eight of his last nine this season. Word was he got fired by overplaying his hand demanding change at the quarterback position in particular. Owner Stephen Ross backed Grier and Tua Tagovailoa over Flores at the end.
The Giants technically could wait until next week to interview Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo in person, as well, after Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
The coaching carousel picked up on Thursday, though, and dominoes finally started to fall.
The Denver Broncos hired Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their head coach, kicking off an offseason full of Aaron Rodgers to Denver rumors.
The Chicago Bears hired Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as their head coach.
The Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly want Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich, but Leftwich reportedly wants Cardinals VP of pro scouting Adrian Wilson as his GM, which would jettison incumbent Trent Baalke.
And the Las Vegas Raiders reportedly are going to interview Patriots OC Josh McDaniels. The Patriots’ Dave Ziegler and McDaniels were a duo to watch for the Raiders from the beginning.
Flores is a candidate for the Houston Texans job, too, where he knows GM Nick Caserio from their time together with the Patriots. But the Texans do not have a quarterback, still are saddled with Deshaun Watson, and do not have a great cap situation either.
Flores has had eyes for the Giants from the beginning. Giants ownership made sure he knew the interest was mutual.
Firing Joe Judge only to hire Flores, a more intense Bill Belichick disciple by reputation, certainly would be worthy of scrutiny and second-guessing.
It might come down to whether Flores’ positive Thursday impression convinced the Giants that the Miami stories either weren’t true, were overblown, or at the very least won’t repeat themselves in New York.