The New York Giants' coaching staff, already without the services of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, has suffered additional losses for for Sunday's pivotal game against Washington, and potentially beyond.
Linebackers coach Bret Bielema was announced as the new head coach of the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday, effective immediately, costing the Giants a veteran coach in the midst of a late-season playoff push.
As well, it was announced that offensive assistant coach Stephen Brown tested positive for coronavirus, and would be out for the team's anticipated Week 15 matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
Brown's positive comes on the heels of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett testing positive for the virus, throwing the besieged unit further into flux amid the uncertain injury status of quarterback Daniel Jones.
Despite the setbacks for Garrett and Brown, as well as the questionable tag on Jones, the Giants caught a break with Washington quarterback Alex Smith likely sidelined for his team's tough Sunday matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
Big Blue was 5-8 through their first 13 games, but only one game behind WFT in the weak NFC East.
Bielema's exit marks the latest move in a career of some note over the past decade-plus.
The former Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman has previous experience in the Big Ten as both a player and coach, having served as both an assistant and a head coach at Wisconsin, most famously coaching Russell Wilson during his one-year stint in Madison as a graduate transfer.
The 50-year-old then moved on to the Arkansas Razorbacks, where he was dismissed in 2017 after four years at the helm.
Bielema then landed on his feet with the Patriots as a defensive assistant and later defensive line coach, winning Super Bowl LIII in New England's near-shutout of the Los Angeles Rams.
The coach is suing the Arkansas Foundation, an organ of the university's athletic program, for what he claims was a failure to fork over the full payouts -- some $7M worth -- he was owed upon being dismissed, under the terms of his contract.
The group countered by subpoenaing Patriots coach Bill Belichick, claiming Bielema was paid a low-ball salary in order to continue collecting his severance, which would be cut off upon finding comparable employment.