One of this offseason’s longer searches appears to have finally come to an end. The Giants have a defensive coordinator in place. Former Titans DC Shane Bowen is coming to New York to serve in the same capacity, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reports.
Bowen was one of the first names on the Giants’ DC radar. More than three weeks after the Don Martindale–Brian Daboll situation combusted, the Giants will bring in the former Titans defensive play-caller. The Giants are preparing to speak with former Titans staffers to follow Bowen to the Big Apple, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler adds.
While Mike Vrabel‘s ouster has removed most of his assistants from the Tennessee equation, the team was hanging onto Bowen during the DC carousel. But the multiyear Titans play-caller will land a gig. This will be Bowen’s second DC gig; he served in this role for three seasons — following Dean Pees‘ exit — with the Titans.
News of Bowen’s interview with the Giants surfaced back on Jan. 12. In the coming weeks, the Giants saw some of their preferred choices land jobs elsewhere. Bobby Babich, whose Bills tenure overlapped entirely with Daboll and Joe Schoen, ended up taking over the DC gig in Buffalo. Another Giants frontrunner, Dennard Wilson, is replacing Bowen in Tennessee. But Bowen, 37, was on the team’s radar early. He may not have been the Giants’ first choice, but the team is bringing in a staffer who became a DC at a young age.
Vrabel saw enough in Bowen to move him to the coordinator role at just 34. This will be a bit of a different situation for Bowen, however. While Vrabel’s background is on the defensive side, Daboll is an offense-oriented coach. Bowen will naturally see more responsibility in New York, being the top defensive voice in the Giants’ building.
Martindale’s stint in this position spiraled as his second season progressed. Bubbling tension between he and Daboll eventually came to a head, with the two-year DC cursing out his boss after the latter’s firing of longtime Martindale assistant Drew Wilkins. Martindale has not landed another job yet, though multiple teams have interviewed him.
The Titans’ injury troubles in recent years have been well documented. Already missing Harold Landry for the season, the 2022 team ran into trouble at a few positions to lead to the stretch-run swoon. Bowen’s 2023 Tennessee defense fared much better than the team’s offense in 2023, ranking 16th in scoring and 18th in yardage. The Titans’ best work under Bowen came in 2021, when they ranked sixth in scoring defense. The Titans closed out that season by sacking Joe Burrow nine times, but the No. 1-seeded team still lost that game, a result that started the team down the path to rebooting around a new GM and head coach.
Like Martindale, Bowen has used a 3-4 scheme. That will be a natural transition for the Giants, who have been in that base alignment — which continues to mean less and less, with nickel now the most common NFL defense — for years. Bowen followed Vrabel from Houston in 2018. It is rather interesting that the longtime Vrabel assistant has landed another gig but Vrabel remains unattached. While it is conceivable teams have reached out to Vrabel about DC positions, he has not interviewed for any non-HC posts this offseason.
The Giants dropped to 26th in Martindale’s second season. While they have some talented players on all three levels, the team is looking to bounce back after what appeared to be a turbulent year on that side of the ball.