Matt Patricia likely to be hired by Lions, report says I What's next for Giants coaching search?

No team can hire Matt Patricia until the Patriots lose in the NFL playoffs, but it looks like the Giants won’t be hiring him regardless.

Patricia is likely to become the next head coach of the Lions, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He cannot officially accept the job until at least next week as the Patriots will face either the Jaguars or the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.

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The 43-year-old defensive coordinator was one of the leading candidates for the Giants. There were various reports last week that indicated he favored New York over Detroit, that the Giants ranked him as choice No. 1, and/or both.

Apparently, that’s no longer the case if it ever was.

It always made the most sense for Patricia to land with the Lions, where general manager Bob Quinn is a former Patriots executive in pro personnel and scouting.

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8 random observations on McDaniels, Patricia in playoff win

So what’s next for the Giants?

The top choices seem to be Vikings offensive coordinator and quarterbacks guru Pat Shurmur and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

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One problem is that both coaches remain alive in the playoffs — the Vikings face the Saints today –so they are under the same restrictions as Shurmur.

Another is that the Giants aren’t alone. If they already lost a battle with the Lions, they are in danger of going 0-3 as the Colts reportedly have McDaniels as the top choice of their two finalists (Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel is the other) and the Cardinals reportedly favor Shurmur.

McDaniels has been more strongly linked to the Colts than the Giants all along, perhaps because injured star quarterback Andrew Luck is ready-made and waiting.

If the Vikings lose Sunday, expect a mad dash for Shurmur’s services if all things are equal and the search can be wrapped up sooner rather than later. It’s a delicate balance, however, of hiring a coach just to complete the process versus hiring the coach actually believed to be best.

McDaniels can’t have a second interview with teams until next week –after the Patriots lose or during the bye week before the Super Bowl. The same goes for Shurmur if the Vikings advance.

It will be a bad look for a proud franchise if the Giants have to turn to a ‘Plan D’ in the search.

Newsday reported last week that there is an unknown “sleeper” candidate in the mix, though it is unclear if he is just a backup target or if he interviewed and just wasn’t announced by the team same as the first six candidates. If it’s the latter of the two, a college coach fits the bill.

Here are some intriguing names to consider if the Giants are left out of musical chairs.

Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, in-house Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville also interviewed.

Ryan Dunleavy may be reached at rdunleavy@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @rydunleavy. Find our Giants coverage on Facebook.

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