I'm sure Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell would rather be in the playoffs right now, but New York's abrupt ending to the season did provide him a head start on interviewing for some of the head-coaching vacancies around the league. The Denver Broncos were an open book when it came to Fewell's recent interview.
Fewell has emerged as a serious candidate in Denver, although you have to wonder if John Fox's experience will eventually give him the edge. Fox was scheduled to interview in Denver on Tuesday, but it's been postponed due to weather issues in North Carolina. I think Fox is a good coach, but I'm not sure the Denver fan base would be that enthusiastic about a retread.
With the success of first-time head coaches such as Mike Smith, Raheem Morris, John Harbaugh and Todd Haley in recent years, everyone's trying to identify who's next. The Broncos just tried to go that route, though, and failed miserably.
Fewell certainly brought some much-needed energy to the Giants' coaching staff and several of his new players put up big numbers. But I think teams such as the Broncos, Panthers and Browns are more interested in how Fewell functioned when he was the interim coach for the Bills for part of the '09 season. His players swore by him and it's obvious that he has some unique leadership skills. If Fewell doesn't land a job, I think he'll be perfectly happy to try to help lead the Giants back to the playoffs. But he's having trouble containing his excitement right now.
"It’s constantly on your mind,” said Fewell during an interview that appeared on the team's website. “It’s a situation that you are so excited about that you are ready to jump out of your skin.
"But you’ve got all these plans that you want to put into action. You have these beliefs and you’re trying to draw upon your years of experience in coaching to say ‘Yes, I can do this job. Yes, I can relate to the management staff. I can identify with the fans and I can help coach and teach the players.’ And we can put together a quality staff. It seems like your dreams are like almost coming true, but then they haven’t come true yet."
Fewell did a tremendous job communicating with his players this season. Justin Tuck has told me before that he and his teammates aren't easily impressed. They're actually a pretty skeptical bunch, but Fewell won them over quickly with his positive and energetic approach. Training camp in Albany was a completely different experience with Fewell racing around the practice field to praise or chastise players. Coughlin seemed amused when Fewell would run next to one of his safeties when he made an interception.
It will be interesting to see if the Giants do anything to persuade Fewell to stay. When Sean Payton nearly left Dallas to take the Oakland job six years ago, Jerry Jones gave him a $500,000 raise to stay. It's probably the best decision of Payton's career. And we all remember Jason Garrett getting $3 million to remain offensive coordinator of the Cowboys following the '07 season.
No matter what happens with these openings, I do think Fewell is destined to be a head coach. But I bet a few of his players are secretly hoping it won't happen this time around.