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Identifying 3 New York Giants defensive coordinator candidates to replace Wink Martindale

New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale
Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants failed to live up to expectations in 2023, going from a playoff team the year before to one of the worst teams in the NFL. A day after wrapping up its disappointing season, New York began sweeping changes to its coaching staff.

On Monday morning, Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll told reporters that he wanted Martindale to return for the 2024 season. Despite reports of friction between the coach and defensive play-caller this season, Daboll seemingly wanted Martindale to return.

  • New York Giants defense stats: 23.9 PPG allowed (26th in NFL), 37.04% third-down conversion rate (9th), 61.02% opponents’ red-zone TD rate (25th), 5.8 yards per play allowed (28th), -37.29 EXP (26th)

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While Daboll seemingly wanted Martindale to return, he dismissed others on his staff. Following Week 18, New York fired special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins and defensive assistant Kevin Wilkins. However, it wouldn’t be the final change to the Giants coaching staff.

As reported by Dianna Russini of The Athletic, Martindale and the Giants parted ways on Monday afternoon. It was just a part of a series of moves on New York’s coaching staff.

With Wink Martindale officially moving into the open market, it’s time to evaluate potential Giants defensive coordinator candidates for 2024.

Identifying New York Giants defensive coordinator candidates

NFL: New York Giants at New Orleans Saints
Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

One issue Daboll and the Giants’ front office may face during their search for a new defensive coordinator is lingering uncertainty. New York’s head coach avoided landing on the hot seat this season, but that won’t be the case in 2024. Any candidates interviewing to become the next Giants defensive coordinator will be taking a job that could only last for one season before sweeping changes are made.

Related: 2024 NFL mock draft, see who New York Giants picked

So, we’re focusing on defensive play-callers who would be willing to take that risk. Keeping all of that in mind, let’s dive into three potential Giants defensive coordinator candidates who could replace Wink Martindale.

  • Mike Zimmer, former Minnesota Vikings head coach – One of the NFL’s best defensive coordinators of his era, Mike Zimmer has already expressed an interest in returning to the NFL. He assisted Deion Sanders at Jackson State. Zimmer loves teaching and a young defense with Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari and Deonte Banks needs someone willing to be a teacher. Zimmer provides that for New York and he should be able to improve the Giants’ defense.
  • DeMarcus Covington, New England Patriots defensive line coach – The biggest trait we’re focused on with Giants defensive coordinator candidates is a willingness to teach young players. New York needs to find someone who embraces things like working one-on-one with a defensive lineman to teach them different pass-rushing techniques. DeMarcus Covington is beloved in New England for that very reason. Christian Barmore is his latest success story, but former and current Patriots’ defenders rave about Covington as a teacher. He’s earned a shot to be a defensive coordinator and New York might be the perfect place for him.
  • Leslie Frazier, former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator – It’s very possible, after the issues with Martindale, that Daboll targets a defensive coordinator he knows he can work with. From 2020-’21, Daboll and Leslie Frazier worked together as the Bills’ offensive and defensive coordinators. He was considered for a spot on New York’s staff last summer and his connection to Daboll could make him one of the top Giants defensive coordinator candidates.
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