Brian Flores went into Thursday’s interview with the Giants as a leading candidate to become their next head coach, and he could have emerged as the favorite.
The Giants can hire a coach at any time now, after fulfilling the Rooney rule by personally interviewing an external minority candidate.
Will Flores be their next head coach? It may depend on how compatible he and the new GM Joe Schoen find themselves after an interview that apparently went well, but which covered difficult questions about Flores’ firing in Miami.
The Giants did significant background work on Flores prior to the interview, calling members of support staff and assistant coaches for information, and receiving positive feedback.
But it was necessary because of negative stories circulating especially about Flores’ collaboration with Dolphins GM Chris Grier.
Whether Flores helped the Giants separate facts from fiction could determine whether consensus is reached among the four Giants officials who conducted the interviews: Schoen, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, and VP of player staff Chris Mara.
“Listen, [Schoen] is not going to hire someone that we do not want and we will certainly not hire someone that he does not want, ”Mara said on Wednesday. “But ownership always has the final approval of any decision like that. It just is not going to change.”
Bill’s offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was the first Giants finalist, is the only offensive coach in the process, has a lawyer at Schoen and has not yet been hired elsewhere.
Still, league sources believe he is a favorite to win the Dolphins job, and there were no rave reviews from his Tuesday Giants interview in East Rutherford, NJ. So momentum apparently had to shift to get elected.
Dan Quinn removed his name from consideration by deciding to stay in Dallas as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. Head coach Mike McCarthy reportedly also received a vote of confidence from owner Jerry Jones for a third season.
The Giants have a scheduled interview left: Friday’s personal visit from Bill’s defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Frazier can not be counted out. He and Schoen spent five years with Buffalo, and he has head coach experience with the Vikings (21-32-1 from 2010-13).
Flores seems to have clear support in the building, though especially from ownership.
Mara contacted Flores in person last week before Schoen’s appointment, aware that Flores wanted the Giants and that his three GM finalists were all planning to interview him.
“I just wanted to tell him that before you make a decision, just know that we have an interest in you,” Mara said Wednesday.
Flores went around .500 (24-25) in three seasons with the Dolphins, but won eight of his last nine this season. He was told he was fired for overplaying his hand and demanded a change in quarterback position. Owner Stephen Ross eventually supported Grier and Tua Tagovailoa over Flores.
The Giants could technically wait until next week to interview Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo in person even after Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
However, the coaching carousel came up on Thursday and dominoes finally started to fall.
The Denver Broncos hired Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their head coach, kicking off an offseason season full of Aaron Rodgers for Denver rumors.
The Chicago Bears hired Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as their head coach.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will reportedly have Buccaneers OC Byron Leftwich, but Leftwich will reportedly have Cardinals VP for pro-scouting Adrian Wilson as his GM, which would dismiss incumbent Trent Baalke.
And the Las Vegas Raiders will reportedly interview Patriots OC Josh McDaniels. The Patriots’ Dave Ziegler and McDaniels were a duo to watch for the Raiders from the start.
Flores is also a candidate for the Houston Texans job, where he knows GM Nick Caserio from their time with the Patriots. But the Texans do not have a quarterback, are still lined with Deshaun Watson and do not have a great cap situation either.
Flores has had eyes for the Giants from the beginning. Giant’s ownership made sure he knew the interest was mutual.
To fire Joe Judge just to hire Flores, a more intense Bill Belichick discipline of reputation, would certainly be worthy of scrutiny and injury.
It may come down to whether Flores’ positive Thursday impressions convinced the Giants that the Miami stories were either not true, were exaggerated, or at least would not repeat themselves in New York.