The Giants announced the hiring of former Tennessee Titans Defensive Coordinator (DC), Shane Bowen, as their new DC today. Bowen replaces Wink Martindale after Wink’s very visible “divorce” from Daboll’s staff. Giants fans have waited a few weeks for the DC position to be filled which naturally allows all the social media GMs to weigh in on the Bowen hire. So, is Bowen the Giants’ fallback plan after earlier hopes for others to fill this position fell through? Or is Bowen the best fit for a Giants defensive staff that was missing a DC, but had other key defensive pieces already in place?
Take 1: “The Giants had to Settle for Bowen”
Certainly, there’s an argument to be made that Shane Bowen may not have been the Giants’ first choice. The break up between Martindale and the Giants was ugly and very public. The “insider leaks” painted Brian Daboll as an over-emotional dictator-type that ridiculed his coaches very openly. Coach Daboll and GM Schoen never got into any specifics as to the truth of any of this, yet were able to navigate these issues as “sour grapes” from Martindale and his Wilkins Brothers posse. As the DC search went on, Daboll and Schoen never presented a list of proposed candidates to the media and fans. Some candidates were blocked from interviewing by their current teams. Some of the key candidates that did get interviews became known during the hiring process, yet took other jobs with other teams. This prompted fans and media to speculate that the top candidates didn’t want to come to the Giants if Daboll is the monster the leaks put out there. In addition, Joe Schoen stated in a media session at last week’s Reese’s Senior Bowl that he believed the Giants would have a new DC by the end of the week. Well, the week came and went with no announcements. In fact, Shane Bowen’s name never popped up until late yesterday as a candidate. So, Bowen has to be a fallback plan, right?
Take 2: “The Giants Found the Missing Piece to Their Defensive Staff”
The Giants preached patience to the fans in defining the progress of their search for a DC. While the breakup of Martindale with the Giants was ugly and untimely at best, the coaching staff was still under contract, and there are good coaches the Giants did not want to leave. Sure, Daboll firing the Wilkins Brothers might have accelerated the Wink situation. But Defensive Line Coach Andre Patterson was a gem that has brought the best out of Pro Bowler Dexter Lawrence and others on the line. Dre had no ties to Martindale prior to joining the Giants. Secondary Coach Jerome Henderson was a holdover from the previous Giants Joe Judge staff that has coached a solid group of young defensive backs under Daboll and is a rising coaching star. In fact, Henderson was believed to be a candidate for the DC position. So, with a solid group of really good defensive coaches in place, the Giants were looking for a DC that could inherit a good staff, bring experience as a defensive play caller, and coach a scheme not too different than what the team had under Wink.
Here’s what Shane Bowen Brings to the Giants
Shane Bowen is a successful DC that has coached a top tier run stopping defense that averaged giving up less than 90 yards per game over his three years as Titans DC. Under Bowen, the Titans led the NFL in 2023 as the stingiest red zone defense, allowing just 38% of opponent possessions inside the Titans 20 yard line to become touchdowns. In opponent goal-to-go situations this past season, his defense allowed just 43% touchdowns.
Bowen inherits an All-Pro (Dexter Lawrence) and multiple other solid defensive linemen plus solid inside linebackers and an up-and-coming secondary that hopefully can resign Safety Xavier McKinney. It’s also no secret that McKinney and Martindale had their disagreements too. Bringing Bowen in as DC could allow McKinney to be that roaming free safety he was so good playing in Patrick Graham’s defense.
Whichever way you want to interpret the signing of Shane Bowen, I think the Giants did well and set the stage for a promising 2024 season on defense.