After what looks like a failed coaching search, John Mara has to nail his out of the box hire in Joe Judge, or risk the NY Giants falling further down the NFL ladder.
Flashback to January 5th, 2016 when Tom Coughlin was giving a press conference to announce that he had “met with owners John Mara and Steve Tisch to inform them that it was in the best interest of the NY Giants organization that he stepped down as head coach”.
If anyone believed that this is how things played out behind closed doors at Giants headquarters, their belief should have been dissolved by watching how Tom Coughlin walked directly past John Mara’s outstretched hand, failing to even look at him and acknowledge his presence, let alone shake his hand in gratitude.
Coughlin served as the head coach of the New York Giants from 2004-2015, where he would finish with a record of 102-90, two Super Bowl championships and the complete and utter disrespect of the Giants ownership group.
Coughlin’s refusal to acknowledge or thank John Mara is likely etched in the brains of any candidate who is contemplating interviewing for a head coaching position with the organization, something that has now occurred three times in just five years.
The Giants top candidate after Coughlin’s departure was Hue Jackson. However, Jackson would decline to even interview with the Giants, instead deciding to agree to become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Following Jackson’s denial, the Giants agreed to make Ben McAdoo their head coach, touting his success as the quarterbacks coach for Aaron Rodgers. Just writing that down seems so laughable at this point. It is equivalent to saying that a guy is a good coaching candidate because he had success with Peyton Manning as his quarterback.
After receiving over $200 million in free-agent upgrades to his defense, McAdoo was able to lead the Giants to an 11-5 record before being ousted in the first round of the playoffs. After that brief moment of hope for the Giants, things turned as comically ugly for the franchise as Ben McAdoo’s hairstyle in year two.
McAdoo would completely lose the locker room and combined with general manager Jerry Reese would completely mishandle the Eli Manning situation, deciding to bench him in favor of Geno Smith, who had not been a successful quarterback at any point of his career. As a result of a massive backlash from Giants fans, ownership would fire both McAdoo and Reese.
Despite having excellent fresh general manager candidates such as Louis Riddick, Nick Caserio, Eric DeCosta and others available, Giants ownership decided to opt for a retread of former employee Dave Gettleman, who had served with the organization previously.
From there they would turn their attention to filling the head coaching vacancy left by the firing of Ben McAdoo. After being spurned by the likes of Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, the Giants announced that they were hiring Pat Shurmur because of his track record of success and his ability to lead and develop young players.
After two seasons of utter failure in which Shurmur consistently used the youth of the roster as a crutch for why he was unable to find success, the NY Giants decided to part ways in hopes of finding a head coach with great leadership ability, something that they had lauded Shurmur for only two years earlier.
In their search for a head coach this offseason, the organization has seen Ron Rivera, Mike McCarthy, Matt Rhule, and Josh McDaniels all decide not to come to the Giants. As a result, Joe Judge has just been hired as the new head coach of the Giants.
While Judge has learned under the tutelage of great coaches like Bill Belichick and Nick Saban and could end up being the best hire of this entire head coaching class, the Giants shouldn’t receive too much credit for the hire, as he really ended up falling into their laps due to their top candidates deciding to accept jobs with other organizations.
There is no doubt that the Giants were in on other top candidates. Rivera agreed to become the head coach of the Washington Redskins before Shurmur was officially fired, McCarthy declined a request for a second interview with the Giants in favor of signing with the Dallas Cowboys, Matt Rhule was offered a ridiculous 7-year $70 million deal by the Carolina Panthers that the Giants (wisely) refused to match and Josh McDaniels, despite agreeing to interview, openly stated he was not interested in the Giants job and that Carolina was the place for him (take that with a grain of salt).
While some of these things are out of control of the Giants, it does not excuse their utter mismanagement. It has become clear that the New York Giants are no longer a highly prized organization that top coaching candidates are excited about the opportunity to coach for.
Much of this likely stems back to that fateful day on January 5, 2016, when the organization threw their legendary coach under the bus for their ineptitudes, making him the sacrificial lamb for an organization that had mismanaged its drafts, free-agent signings, and overall roster-building, but decided to force the man who led them to two Super Bowl championships to fall on the sword on their behalf.
The video of Coughlin storming past Mara’s outstretched hand is likely seared into the brains of any head coaching candidate with other options. It serves as notice of how Mara and his cronies will likely act if they do not perform up to their standards, regardless of how poor the roster that they are provided might be.
While Joe Judge may turn out to be a fantastic hire for the Giants, his hiring comes as a direct result of the franchise being passed over by all of its top head-coaching candidates. After enduring this for the third time since Coughlin left the organization, ownership needs to take a long look in the mirror and recognize its failures.
Regardless of whether or not Judge succeeds moving forward, the Giants have failed to assemble a respectable hiring process for head coaches for far too long.