- The New York Giants have fired head coach Joe Judge after two seasons.
- Judge posted a record of 10-23 in his tenure with the Giants.
- One day earlier, general manager Dave Gettleman retired after four seasons in the position.
If the Chicago Bears’ firing of head coach Matt Nagy was a ‘foregone conclusion’ and the Miami Dolphins’ dismissal of Brian Flores a surprise (though far from a shock) news that the New York Giants have parted company with head coach Joe Judge is somewhere between these two extremes. Judge’s record of 10-23 in two seasons with the Giants arguably warranted his firing but for awhile it looked like he would survive for at least one more year. With Judge frequently butting heads with a prickly general manager, his job security looked better after Dave Gettleman retired after four seasons on the job. The statements from co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch sure sounded like they were placing the blame for the team’s struggles with the departing GM. Here’s how Mara described what they’re looking for in Gettleman’s replacement:
“This will be a comprehensive search for our next general manager. We are looking for a person who demonstrates exceptional leadership and communication abilities, somebody who will oversee all aspects of our football operations, including player personnel, college scouting and coaching.”
The subtext of a ‘laundry list’ like this is that they’re looking for a candidate with all of these qualities because the guy that formerly held the position was deficient in one or more–or all–of them. Steve Tisch made it simple, saying that he just wanted a general manager that didn’t suck:
“It is an understatement to say John and I are disappointed by the lack of success we have had on the field. We are united in our commitment to find a general manager who will provide the direction necessary for us to achieve the on-field performance and results we all expect.”
In light of Mara and Tisch’s statements it’s obvious that Gettleman’s departure was–for all intents and purposes–a firing. They probably figured that they might as well throw the 70 year old Gettleman a bone and let him ‘retire’ instead. The Giants were 9-46 in the four years Gettleman served as GM. One forboding omission from the statement announcing Gettleman’s ‘retirement’–not a word was mentioned about the status of head coach Joe Judge. Word on the street was that management planned to bring him back in 2022:
The Giants did not address the status of coach Joe Judge in their announcement about Gettleman. (ESPN’s Adam) Schefter reported last month that Judge was expected to return in 2022 despite the Giants’ last-place finish this season.
Based on what we know now, it appears that Giants’ ownership left Judge twisting in the wind since the end of the regular season. Judge did the smart thing for anyone in this situation by acting like he was firmly ensconced in his position–he had a team meeting on Monday morning and spoke to ownership in the afternoon. He finally got the coup de grace at a follow up meeting with ownership on Tuesday. Seriously, there’s no bigger dick move toward any employee in any job. You have to think that Mara and Tisch knew after the Giants’ 22-7 loss to the Washington Football Team on Sunday that Judge would be gone–if not well before. Not only did they leave him in limbo by not addressing his status for a couple of days they dragged the poor guy through at least one meeting where the ‘future direction of the franchise’ was discussed before they dropped the bomb.
Everyone has heard the old cliche that a team ‘snatched defeat from the jaws of victory’. If that applied to a head coach, it would be Judge. He received a vote of confidence from ownership earlier in the year and until the past week or two the plan was to keep him for at least another year. That was before a bizarre 11 minute rant after a loss to the Chicago Bears on January 2nd–the now infamous ‘ain’t some clown show organization’ speech:
“This ain’t a team that is having fistfights on the sidelines. This ain’t some clown show organization or something else,” Judge said. “You talk about the foundation built. The toughest thing to change in a team, in a club, is the way people think. You understand that? That is the toughest thing. You can get new players. You can have your damn locker room all you want. You have to change how people think. You have to change how they f—ing believe in what you’re doing. And they have to trust the process. And that is a lot easier said than done when they’re looking up right now and you’ve got one game left and the most you can win is five this season.”
“But I guarantee you this: Those men are going to walk in Wednesday and be ready to roll. We’re going to practice hard on Wednesday, practice hard on Thursday and Friday. And we’re going to play for each other when we get on the field next week.”
“Every fan has a right to boo my ass out of the stadium. Got that? That don’t bother me. I don’t want it. I don’t think anyone wants to get booed. But the reality of it, that’s all right. … The fans are every bit right to ask what you’re asking.”
“I know we have the right temperament. I know we have the right culture in terms of teaching players, which is why I don’t come up here and try to assassinate some player because I think it’s going to save my ass. Because behind closed doors, we shut those doors, I can tell every player to a man, look them in the eye, tell them exactly what they screwed up on and exactly how it’s got to get fixed. I can tell them to hold them as accountable as can be. Because I’m not going to sit up here, like some other cowards behind a microphone, and put the players on blast. That is it. I signed up to be the head coach here.”
The whole video is worth watching. It was essentially a ‘drunken tirade’ only minus the alcohol. Needless to say, since the Giants ‘ain’t no clown show organization’ ownership was less than pleased with Judge’s rambling oratory. The season ending 22-7 loss to divisional rivals Washington. Nor did the Giants running back-to-back QB sneaks from inside their own 5 yard line on second and third down. TL,DR: Joe Judge talked himself out of a job when ownership wanted to bring him back next year. Credit to offensive line coach Rob Sale–he lined up a cushy gig as the offensive coordinator with the Florida Gators in a reunion with Billy Napier mere hours before the ax fell.
It’s hard to say that any coach with a .303 winning percentage got a ‘raw deal’, but Judge was always dealing with some situation or another–not to mention a slew of injuries. The COVID debacle of 2020 was enough of a distraction that IMO every coach in sports deserved a ‘mulligan’. This year, the Giants were among the NFL leaders in games lost to injury with the offense hit particularly hard. Most of the starting skill players on offense including quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, left tackle Andrew Thomas, and receivers Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney missed at least two games. Jones played in only 11 games this year due to a nagging neck injury and there wasn’t much talent left on the depth chart to replace him. Vince Lombardi couldn’t win with Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm as starting quarterback.
The Giants’ franchise is one with ridiculously high expectations and very little patience with losing. Unfortunately, that’s kept them from having any sort of coaching continuity. Judge is the third consecutive Giants head coach to last two seasons or less joining Ben McAdoo (13-15 in 2016 and 2017) and Pat Shurmur (9-23 in 2018 and 2019). While we’re at it we might as well mention 2017 interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo who put up a 1-3 record. The Giants have only one winning season since 2013. They went an inexplicable 11-5 that season only to be routed 38-15 by the Green Bay Packers in the wild card round.