Jason Garrett has the experience. Patrick Graham has a hot résumé. And Thomas McGaughey finally has a chance.
It’s possible all three Giants coordinators could be linked to head coach vacancies as the carousel starts spinning.
Garrett is no surprise after 10 seasons as the Cowboys head coach. Graham is included on virtually every speculative list of top candidates. But don’t sleep on McGaughey, who could be one of a handful of special teams coordinators on the interview circuit now that Giants coach Joe Judge has earned positive reviews after coming over from the New England Patriots.
“My goal as a coach has always been to eventually become a head coach,” McGaughey said. “I’m just enjoying where I am now and learning as much as I can from Joe. He’s been awesome as far as learning all the different situational things and the preparation part.”
The only two active NFL head coaches with a primarily special teams background — Judge and the Ravens’ John Harbaugh — will square off Sunday. Opportunities primarily go to offensive or defensive assistants despite the special teams backgrounds of coaching greats Bill Belichick, Marv Levy, Dick Vermeil and Bill Cowher.
“These two guys are kind of breaking that stereotype, the stigma of special teams coaches not being able to be head coaches,” McGaughey said before echoing one of the strengths Giants ownership identified in Judge. “Just understanding the game and how it all fits together and having a vision and a purpose for what you want to do.”
Well-respected in league circles and well-liked by players, McGaughey, 47, has been an NFL special teams coach since 2002, with the exception of a three-year stint in the same role at LSU. McGaughey’s second stint with the Giants began in 2018 and Judge kept him in place — a form of high praise.
“The one thing that I’ve always learned in this coaching profession is all the jobs you ever chase you never get,” McGaughey said. “You take care of the one that you have and the next one will jump in your lap.”
There are three head coach vacancies right now and more expected after the season.
“I’ve had opportunities to be around a lot of good head coaches that have had success and that have done some good things in their career,” McGaughey said. “When those opportunities come up, we’ll see what happens.”
QB Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle) is listed as “questionable” for Sunday, but that seems just a formality as he is expected to start despite limited practice participation. CB Darnay Holmes (knee) and LB Blake Martinez (ankle) also are questionable. Holmes has missed the last two games. WR Golden Tate will not play after injuring his calf earlier in the week.
Giants practice squad wide receiver Alex Bachman is one of the players called upon to simulate inimitable Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on the scout team. Quarterbacks Joe Webb or Clayton Thorson can handle pass plays, but Jackson will be the fastest runner on the field and the Giants needed a creative way to give their defense a taste of his elusiveness.