More On: new york giants Five ways it went wrong for Joe Judge Now comes the hard part for Giants Top candidates to be the next Giants coach Who should be the Giants’ next coach and GM?
The Giants are once again in the market for a new head coach as a once-proud franchise continues to sink to new depths on its way to hitting rock-bottom.
Joe Judge was spared the axe on Black Monday, but he did not survive another day in the job he ascended to almost exactly two years ago. Judge met with co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch the day after the Giants finished off a miserable 4-13 season and Mara informed Judge on Tuesday that he was fired.
“Steve and I both believe it is in the best interest of our franchise to move in another direction,” Mara said. “We met with Joe [Monday] afternoon to discuss the state of the team. I met again with Joe this afternoon, and it was during that conversation I informed Joe of our decision. We appreciate Joe’s efforts on behalf of the organization.
“I said before the season started that I wanted to feel good about the direction we were headed when we played our last game of the season. Unfortunately, I cannot make that statement, which is why we have made this decision.’’
The Giants on Monday sent general manager Dave Gettleman off into retirement. Interviews kick off on Wednesday to find a replacement — there are eight candidates in the first round.
“We will hire a general manager and that person will lead the effort to hire a new head coach,’’ Mara said.
Time was of the essence, with the Bears, Dolphins, Vikings, Jaguars and Broncos all looking for new head coaches. The Giants could not keep Judge around and wait until they hired a new general manager to determine if that awkward arrangement could work.
Brian Flores, shockingly fired by the Dolphins, figures to be high on anyone’s list as a head coach candidate. Others who could be in consideration: Byron Leftwich (Buccaneers offensive coordinator), Brian Daboll (Bills offensive coordinator), Josh McDaniels (Patriots offensive coordinator), Raheem Morris (Rams defensive coordinator) and Doug Pederson (former Eagles head coach).
Figure the Giants get through their general manager interviews in rapid succession and then allow the new general manager to be the point-man for the hiring of the new head coach. The owners do the hiring of the head coach, with the general manager the strongest advocate.
It was Mara on the day Judge was hired who said he had to show more patience with Judge, as a first-time head coach, than he did with Ben McAdoo (fired 12 games into his second year) and Pat Shurmur (fired after two seasons). Mara also said he had to see signs of progress. He ran out of patience when there were no tangible signs after this past season that the Giants were on the right path.
This was a stunning fall for Judge, hired as a relatively unknown 38-year-old Patriots special teams coordinator, a branch off the Bill Belichick tree. Judge wowed the crowd at his introductory press conference, promising to give the New York/New Jersey area a team that represented it. He was generally given high marks for the way the Giants played in 2020, going 6-10 but finishing 5-3 in the second half of that season. Ownership liked his tough-guy image and his attention to detail and the fast-talking Judge seemed to get his players to play hard for him.
Judge was not in trouble as late as Christmastime, even with the Giants at 4-7, and ownership was of the mindset that Judge would return for a third year — unless there were extenuating circumstances. Quarterback Daniel Jones went down and out with a sprained neck and what followed were six consecutive losses by a combined score of 163-56. This noncompetitive football, combined with some troubling comments from Judge that irritated Mara after the loss in Chicago, paved the way for his dismissal, just two years into a five-year contract.
Judge had his rocky moments. He fired offensive line coach Marc Columbo midway through the 2020 season after the two nearly came to blows. Judge fired his offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, 10 games into this season. Physical practices wore on players and injuries were rampant. It was clear Judge’s staff on the offensive side of the ball was overmatched.
see also Giants’ John Mara, Steve Tisch must get GM, coach hires right this time
“The coaching staff walked on eggshells,’’ a team source said. “Players didn’t believe in the system. Everyone liked him as a person, but when you hear the same repetitive stuff without changes it becomes a broken record.”
For a franchise that prides itself on stability and continuity, this is the second time in the past four years the Giants fired a general manager and a head coach at the same time. This is a sign of great instability and that rests with ownership. It was after 12 games in 2017 that Jerry Reese and McAdoo were dismissed, one day after the ill-fated benching of Eli Manning for Geno Smith.
It is back to square one for the Giants, about to undergo another complete overhaul in their ongoing quest to achieve competency and relevancy.