Giants DC candidates: Morris, Pepper Johnson, Spagnuolo, Nolan – Metro US

Giants DC candidates: Morris, Pepper Johnson, Spagnuolo, Nolan

Giants DC candidates: Morris, Pepper Johnson, Spagnuolo, Nolan
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The Giants, like almost half of the league, are in need of rounding out their coaching staff following their dismissal of former defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, last week.

Despite head coach Tom Coughlin’s decree that he wasn’t looking into any coaching changes on his staff following their season-ending home defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles, Fewell was a marked man once team owner John Mara deemed that “thedefense did not play well this year.” Mara has been the kiss-of-death for Big Blue coordinators the last couple of seasons, as it was his proclamation that the 2013-14 offense was “broken.” Soon after, then-offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride reportedly decided to “retire.”

Mara’s end of the season address was a mix of disappointment and anger — with most of it aimed at the defense.

And while he noted that the Giants’ brass and coaching staff will collectively come together and pare down the list of candidates for the defensive coordinator position, Mara reasoned that final say will be with Coughlin.

There is no shortage of potential candidates who fit the Big Blue mold, so here’s a look at the best of the bunch — excluding former Denver Broncos head coach John Fox, who was relieved of his duties Monday evening. While Fox is a great defensive mind and once coached the Giants’ defense, he’s already a candidate for a handful of other vacant head coaching jobs.

1. Raheem Morris — Fewell’s seat was barely cold when Morris’s name popped up as a viable replacement. Morris,who is just 38 years old and who has already held the title of head coach (for three years with Tampa Bay), is a native of Irvington, N.J., and matriculated at Hofstra University. The exuberant players’ coach had an interview last week with Coughlin and Co., and by all accounts, it went well. Morris, who acknowledged that he was a life-long Giants fan growing up, was the defensive backfield coach in Washington last season. It’s unusual for coaches to jump ship to a division rival, but with Washington owner Daniel Snyder not expressing any public opposition, Morris would likely jump at the chance to coach his childhood team.

2. Pepper Johnson — Another young and talented coach, Johnson is currently the Buffalo Bills’ defensive line coach. But with the sudden resignation of head coach Doug Marrone — and subsequent hiring of former Jets head coach Rex Ryan — Johnson’s post could be up in the air. Johnson received permission from the Bills to interview for the Giants’ opening. And with his background as a former Giants’ star linebacker and his 13-year apprenticeship under Bill Belichick, the time cannot be any better for Johnson to finally get the chance to run his own defense.

3.Steve Spagnuolo — The coach affectionately known as “Spags” during his tenure as the Giants’ defensive coordinator in the early part of the 2000s will interview for the job on Wednesday. Like Johnson, Spagnuolo is a familiar face around the facilities and would be a welcomed addition. He’s currently the Ravens’ secondary coach, but was once the head coach of the St. Louis Rams and the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. Neither stint panned out, but Spagnuolo will always have a soft landing in New York, should he choose, if only for his performance in Super Bowl XLII when his Giants’ defense stifled the then-undefeated New England Patriots and its high-powered offense in a 17-14 win.

4.Mike Nolan— The former Giants defensive coordinator (1993-1996) is the son of former Giants’ safety and assistant coach Dick Nolan, so once again it’s another coach with Big Blue ties. The younger Nolan wasmost recently the defensive coordinator in Atlanta, but that staff is in shreds now since the firing of head coach Mike Smith. Nolan has had successful stints in Denver and San Francisco in leading the defense (he was also the Niners’ head coach), so his candidacy in New York is intriguing. He’s a creative and aggressive play-caller, but with his background mainly being in the 3-4 defense, it’s still unsure how his philosophies would fit with Coughlin’s base 4-3 defensive principles.

Big Blue notes:

-WideoutOdell Beckham Jr.,their first-round pick who turned out to be a superstar, was named the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) 2014 Rookie of the Year and the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Beckham, who missed all of training camp and the first month of the season due to an injured hamstring, compiled team-highs in receptions (91), yards (1,305), and touchdowns (12). The Defensive Rookie of the Year was St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who ironically, was the other prospect that the Giants were discussing with the 12th overall pick. Beckham is the onlyGiant rookie in team history to win the offensive award.

-During the past week, the Giants signed a third quarterback, former Iowa star Ricky Stanzi.

– Big Blue also addedpunter-placekicker, Chris Boswell as a reserve/future free agent. Boswell played at Rice University.