Pandemonium struck the Detroit Lions and their fanbase on Wednesday when the presumed favorite to win the head coaching job, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, was rumored to favor the job in New York and it appeared the Giants felt the same way. The New York Daily News reported that all signs are pointing to a Giants-Patricia partnership, and the “Same Old Lions” fans were out in force.
But later on Wednesday, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo was reporting something very different. According to Garafolo, the Giants aren’t exactly zeroing in on Patricia just yet.
“I’ve spoken to a number of people today familiar with where the Giants stand in their coaching search,” Garafolo said on Wednesday. “They are wrapping up this first round of interviews. They have not locked into Patricia. They are not trying to close a deal with Patricia.”
Of course, by NFL rules the Giants wouldn’t be able to negotiate a deal with Patricia anyways, seeing as he’s still employed by the Patriots. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press provides the exact language from the league:
No contract shall be executed, and no agreement to execute a contract, or an announcement of a contract or of an agreement for employment, shall be permitted until after the conclusion of the employer club’s playing season.
But that hasn’t stopped teams in the past. It was common knowledge that Kyle Shanahan was taking the 49ers job last year, even though he was in the midst of a Super Bowl run as the Falcons offensive coordinator.
So if the Giants were truly closing in on Patricia as a candidate, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to hear several confirming reports. According to Garafolo, the Giants just aren’t there in their search yet.
That being said, Patricia still appears to be one of their top candidates, and Garafolo admitted as such. “They are now going to discuss amongst themselves who stood out in the first round of interviews,” Garafolo said. “I would expect Patricia to be near the top of the list, if not at the top of the list, but they are just not there right now as far as locking him up.”
He also argues that if things were so finalized in New York, we would have seen the Lions make a move on someone else already—likely Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. This is a good point to bring up, because it appears the Lions may be done with their interviewing process. Detroit hasn’t interviewed a candidate since they talked to Patricia last Friday, and though Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is now available to interview, there have been no indications that the Lions have scheduled a meet-up yet.
Ultimately, Garafolo concludes that this situation has not been resolved yet. “Keep your eye on this one. It is not over either way, I can promise you that.”