On Tuesday, January 7th, the NY Giants hired New England Patriots Special Teams Coordinator, Joe Judge, to fill their Head Coach vacancy; making him the 19th in Franchise History – and the 3rd in the last six seasons.
If you’re a NY Giants fan who is skeptical about this appointment, don’t worry; you’re not alone. After news broke that Baylor University Head Coach, Matt Rhule, was set to become the new Carolina Panthers Head Coach, the Giants (having missed out on their first-choice coaching candidate, according to earliest reports), were left to act quickly.
Now it’s left to fans to decide whether this signing is an outstanding pivot or a hasty decision. …
In an offseason with perhaps the deepest pool of potential Head Coaches in years, the Giants interview process left their organization looking like a deer caught in headlights. Ron Rivera: Signed by Washington Redskins. Mike McCarthy: Signed by Dallas Cowboys. Matt Rhule: Signed by Carolina Panthers. Even former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach, Jason Garrett was invited to interview – and New York fans were quick to express their dismay at the prospect of their team being led by someone with a 2-3 postseason record through 10 seasons; and a former division rival to boot.
However, out of these three highly coveted head coaches, only McCarthy was officially interviewed by ownership and the GM’s office since Rhule signed before his scheduled interview with the organization later that same day. To make matters worse, both Rivera and McCarthy will now be coaching in the NFC East for the foreseeable future.
While fans might still have reservations about Judge as their Head Coach (seeing as I don’t think most NFL fans even knew he existed before the news broke), many across the league view this hire as a great move by the organization. Judge, who has spent the last 8 seasons (including 3 Super Bowl Championships) on New England’s staff, came highly recommended by his former boss, Bill Belichick, in addition to the University of Alabama’s Head Coach, Nick Saban; who called him, “… one of the brightest young coaches in our profession …”
Moreover, if we look back at the Patriots final two weeks of football this year, fans will remember that Belichick and company were bested at home by Miami Dolphins’ Head Coach, Brian Flores and Tennessee Titans’ Head Coach, Mike Vrabel.
While Flores was a coach underneath Belichick from 2004 – 2018 and Vrabel was a player under Belichick from 2001 – 2008, perhaps their success as coaches against their mentor is a signal of what the Giants can expect to see from Judge: The successful application of the New England Patriots system on another team.
Personally, I thought the Giants would have been better served by Don Martindale (Ravens defensive coordinator) or another defensive-minded coach, like Kris Richard (Cowboys defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator), to rebuild their depleted defensive unit, considering the number of rookies currently filling their defensive back positions and their lackluster pass rushers.
Making this sort of hire could have then opened the door to target an offensive coordinator with the play-calling ability to make Saquon Barkley a focal point in their offense, whereby creating the possibility of an open backfield from which to build a potent passing game with Daniel Jones under center.
Overall, the Giants needed someone capable of player development and game-day execution, which were the two qualities of a Head Coach this team lacked under Pat Shurmur. After finishing below .500 in five of their last six seasons, the NY Giants showed they were willing to think outside the box and take a risk on Judge.
Regardless of their recent lack of success, this signing may prove to be very brave, or very stupid. But hindsight is 2020, and management must now be forward-thinking in their pursuit to field a winning team next season.