When Joe Judge was hired by the New York Giants in 2020 to be their next head coach, he said all the right things at the opening press conference. Discipline, work ethic, and accountability were three characteristics that Judge prided himself on. Even though he lacked experience as a head coach or offensive/defensive coordinator, Judge appeared to bring a sense of hard work and energy that the Giants desperately lacked under Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur.
I wrote this last year after the Judge’s hire.
“From an introductory standpoint, (Joe) Judge hit a home run. It’s clear he wants to turn things around by focusing on the fundamentals, finding well-disciplined players, and playing hard on both sides of the ball.”
Throughout last season, I believed in and defended Judge from a coaching perspective. Although the NFC East was atrocious, the Giants still had a chance to somehow sneak into the playoffs at 6-10. That’s nothing to brag home about, but the team was playing hard especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The bar is extremely low to give credit to a professional team for “playing hard,” but this is the Giants, a team with the 27-54 record since 2016.
The “Ra-Ra, win one for the Gipper” act only works if you win games. Guess what? Not only are the Giants failing to win, but they’re devastatingly losing close games. Saying the right things matters, but actions speak louder than words. I started to sour on Judge after the brutal loss to the Washington Football Team after a mistake on special teams cost the Giants the game.
The Giants followed up that game with three losses in their next four games. The Giants faltered down the stretch to the Falcons, never stood a chance against the Cowboys, and embarrassed themselves against the Rams.
Did I expect the Giants to win all three of those games? No, but the product on the field doesn’t match what Judge is preaching. There seems to be no accountability or discipline as the Giants have the 10th most penalties in the NFL. But hey, at least the team had to run laps after a game as punishment.
If you couldn’t tell, I’ve lost patience with Judge and his shtick. If you have to challenge players six weeks into the season to “join in the fight,” then you’re losing the locker room.
Is Judge the driving force behind the Giants decline? John Mara deserves most of the blame because he continues to trust Dave Gettleman to build a competitive roster.
I would also cut Judge more slack if Jason Garrett wasn’t calling plays for the offense, and Daniel Jones wasn’t playing quarterback. To be honest, Garrett and Jones haven’t been terrible this season, and I’m sure many will say that Jones is not the root of all problems. To be fair, Jones has been good in spots, especially against the WFT and Saints. But anyone who has watched every game with Jones under center knows he’s not “the guy.”
This past Monday night, the Chiefs wanted to give that game away so badly, but the Giants refused to take it. Patrick Graham called a perfect game on the defensive side of the ball, and the defensive line and secondary gave the offense every chance to take the lead. But Judge, Garrett, and Jones did everything they could to make sure the Giants would lose.
One sequence at the end of the first half showed why Judge should not be the head coach next year. The Giants are trailing 14-7 late in the first half, but they’re in the red zone and face a third-and-four from the 7-yard line. Judge calls a timeout, which is fine if they’re discussing a third-down play and a fourth-down play. On the Manningcast, Michael Strahan asked why teams run plays a yard or two short of the first down marker.
We all know how this story goes.
In conservative Giants fashion, the offense ran a passing play two yards short of the first down. Did the Giants go for it on fourth-and-two from the 5-yard-line?
There is a time and place to go for it on fourth down, and that was the situation to roll the dice. However, the Giants kicked a field goal, content with going into the half down four points.
The mistakes kept piling up. In the second half, the “Disciplined Giants” were flagged for taunting, which negated a big play, offsides, which took away an interception, and a facemask, which put the Chiefs into Giants’ territory.
To make matters worse, Joe Judge’s clock management makes Andy Reid look like Doctor Strange. Refusing to call the timeout before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter and letting precious seconds go to waste is inexcusable.
After all of this, the Giants STILL had a chance to tie or even win the game, down three points with 1:07 left in the fourth quarter. The four plays went like this:
- Checkdown for a 3-yard gain
- Incomplete pass
With a pedestrian offense and a hit-or-miss defense, what does Judge exactly do for the Giants? Coach a decent special teams unit? Throw away timeouts like it’s expired Halloween candy? Blame the headsets for his coaching miscues? Post World War II quotes on the locker room wall to inspire the guys to play for him?
The Giants are a mess, and Judge is a big reason why. It’s time for Mara to move on from Judge (and Gettleman and Garrett and Jones).
(But we all know Judge is coming back next season.)
Update: COVID outbreak!
What are your thoughts on Joe Judge as the coach of the New York Giants? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @danny_giro.