by Michael Stewart | NY Giants Rush Contributor

Who is the Next Defensive Coordinator for the Giants?

Now with the departure of Perry Fewell, Tom Coughlin begins the long hard search for his replacement. There are many names flying around, but the top 4 that I’ve seen and for the most part agree with are the following candidates:

Steve Spagnuolo (Currently defensive backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens): Spagnuolo was the Giants DC back in 2007-08 and won a Super Bowl with them. He has a solid relationship with the Giants ownership and most importantly with Tom Coughlin. He could be the #1 choice because Tom Coughlin knows him well and respects his defensive mind. Spagnuolo runs a 4-3 defense with some twists; which is what the Giants have been running during Tom Coughlin’s tenure.

Jim Schwartz (Currently the DC with the Buffalo Bills): The Buffalo Bills defense in the second half of the 2014 season was outstanding and Jim Schwartz was a large part of that success. He is well-respected in the NFL for his defensive mind and could be a solid candidate to succeed Tom Coughlin after the 2015 season; should Coughlin decide to retire. Another consideration to factor in is that Schwartz has strong ties with Ndamunkong Suh, who would be one the most sort after free agents this off-season.

Mike Nolan (Currently the DC with the Atlanta Falcons): Nolan was the Giants DC from 1993 to 1996 at the age of 33 and still has strong ties with the Giants organization. Like Schwartz, Nolan is respected around the league for his defensive mind. With the firing of Head Coach Mike Smith, Nolan is most likely on his way out.

Pepper Johnson (Currently the defensive lines coach for the Buffalo Bills): Among the 4 mentioned, Johnson would be the longest shot to be the next Defensive Coordinator for the New York Giants. Johnson has a history with the Giants as a player and winning a Super Bowl in 1990. He’s been coaching for 14 years (13 with the Patriots), so he is not totally green around the edges; although he is the only one for the 4 candidates without any experience as a defensive coordinator. Hard to believe that Tom Coughlin would entrust the DC position to someone who is not as established.

Final Thoughts: This must be a big and important decision for Tom Coughlin to make; as it could determine his status after 2015. The Giants must reverse their identity on defense and the first step will be selecting the right Defensive Coordinator. The million dollar question is who will it be?