On Wednesday January 8th, 2020, the New York Football Giants hired their 19th head coach in franchise history. Many fans were hit with different emotions following this hire. It was intended that former Baylor head coach Matt Rhule was going to be the new head coach, especially with the change of the meeting address from Texas to East Rutherford, New Jersey, all signs pointed that way. Makes sense right? Well, let’s dig in to what actually happened.
On Monday, the Giants brought in a special teams coordinator/ wide receivers coach from New England by the name of Joe Judge for an interview. As many fans had thought, this was just another interview closer to the head coach they wanted, with an interview on Tuesday with Matt Rhule.
Tuesday came, and for many Giants fans, it was like a second Christmas. Many woke up Tuesday morning searching and waiting for the biggest and best gift of the day, to see the new head coach of the New York Giants. Alarmingly that morning, breaking news Matt Rhule is in the process of signing a long-term deal with the Carolina Panthers, which eventually became 7 years, $60 million plus incentives. As many of the Giants fans reading this article now, were frustrated, upset, shocked, and more.
Soon after that, the Giants found their new head coach…a name that has been heard of this offseason, but not one that splashes out of the water. This gentleman had “blown away” many of the staff members conducting the interviews, making them reach their ultimate decision. Joe Judge is the next head coach of the New York Giants. There are so many mixed feelings and emotions about the hire, and that is normal and expected, but here’s why I say let’s not “judge” him yet. Court is now in session.
As mentioned before, Joe Judge served as the special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Patriots this past season. At 38 years old, Judge does have some intriguing qualifications in his coaching resume.
- Mississippi State (2005–2007) Graduate assistant
- Birmingham–Southern (2008) Linebackers coach
- Alabama (2009–2011) Special teams assistant
- New England Patriots (2012–2014) Special teams assistant
- New England Patriots (2015–2018) Special teams coordinator
- New England Patriots (2019) Special teams coordinator/Wide receivers coach
- New York Giants (2020–present) Head coach
Judge does not have any prior head coaching experience, so this will be his first opportunity in that position.
However, Judge does find himself with a great opportunity to apply his prior experiences to a whole new chapter in the book. A former special teams coordinator that was hired by the Baltimore Ravens back in 2008 to be their head coach was John Harbaugh. I don’t think I have to go too far into detail about that, but it certainly paid off for himself and the Ravens, winning a super bowl and making the playoffs 7 times since 2008. I’m not saying they are similar, but the sky is the limit for Judge.
I also wanted to bring a couple witnesses to the stand, Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. After the Giants made the hire public, there were some quotes released that caught my attention. Nick Saban stated, “Joe is one of the brightest young coaches in our profession, and I think he will do a tremendous job as the head coach of the New York Giants. They are getting an extremely smart football coach who is loyal, organized, and diligent about getting the job done”.
Bill Belichick added, “He’s an excellent coach. He understands the game well, works extremely hard and is a very good teacher of fundamentals. Joe picks up concepts and coaching points quickly. He is an exceptional leader and one of the best coaches I have been around. He has been responsible for coaching units comprised of nearly every player on the roster. That requires an ability to handle many moving parts, make constant adjustments and immediate decisions. I appreciate Joe’s many contributions to our staff and team and wish him well.” There were also reports that the Giants had reached out to Belichick before the hire for a recommendation of Joe Judge, and they certainly got that.
Judge may not have the prior positions like offensive or defensive coordinator, but here’s why that doesn’t matter. For the position he held since 2012, he worked primarily with the special teams. As we know, special teams is on both sides of the ball, whether it’s kicking, punting, or returning. The great part about that job is that he had exposure to both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, with all the players. He developed relationships with all the players, not just one side of the ball or position group. This will help him with the head coaching position as he has had that experience and exposure working with both sides of the ball, and working with all players, from starters to backups. Special teams is also a big part of a football team, and it can be very difficult to perfect or have success with it. Judge had found success with it in his time with New England, especially with special teams pro-bowler Matthew Slater.
Judge has been viewed as smart, loyal, dedicated, but what also stood out to me was his fire and drive. There was a tweet that surfaced from 2012 by Ian Rapoport saying that Judge had “thrown a player over the bench” during his time in Alabama. Of course, I don’t condone violence here, but that fire and passion is what the Giants desperately need to fire up this team and get the aggressiveness and winning spirit back into their locker room.
Judge’s message says it all to Giants fans, “My job is to lead our players and coaches. The mission is clear…to win games”. The Giants hope to do just that, as the 2020 offseason continues into the next phase.
Welcome to New York Joe Judge. At this time, all rise, and we can hit the mallet and call this case closed.