Awards are secondary to performance, but it’s hard to argue that New York Giants coach Joe Judge doesn’t deserve some kind of award or another if the team can keep up their sudden turnaround in the second half of the season.
The Giants have picked up their fourth straight win, and for the first time in years, it’s December and it legitimately looks like the team could be in the playoffs. Coaching, of course, has been a big part of the reason why they were able to turn things around.
There’s other coaches in contention, but as for the reasons Joe Judge should be in consideration for the Coach of the Year award, there’s more than one compelling argument.
Joe Judge inherited an unstable position (and turned things around anyway)
New York isn’t a great place to be a rookie head coach right now. While there is inherent appeal in turning around a major big market franchise, the actual conditions of the job aren’t the easiest. The Giants have high expectations placed on them by the media and the fans and the team has been rebuilding for far too long in the eyes of many. After the short tenures of Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur, there’s little patience for more protracted losing.
The fanbase wants to see someone win now, and that’s what Judge is doing – the team might have a losing record, but their first place spot in the NFC East is more than meeting the expectations of many. After all, the last time the Giants were in contention this deep in the season, they actually made it into the playoffs. And the wins coming right now are meaningful, not just pointless victories against bad teams after the Giants have already been eliminated from contention.
Winning without all the pieces
Many expected the Giants to continue floundering after their bad start because they didn’t have all the pieces. Nate Solder opted out before the start of the season, Saquon Barkley went down for the year with an early injury, and Sterling Shepard hasn’t been entirely healthy this season either. Most recently, Daniel Jones was injured and forced to miss the Seahawks game where the Giants had to start Colt McCoy instead.
Even though losing Barkley early on took a lot of the hope out of the season, and other losses haven’t been easy for the Giants either, Judge has found a way to win regardless. The Seahawks win is especially significant as Seattle was 8-3 going into the game and much better competition than the struggling Eagles or the Bengals without their top draft pick.
Judge has been a leader this season
The previous two coaches that came before Judge haven’t been leaders. One of the main criticisms about Pat Shurmur was that he was a nice football coach rather than a good football coach. When he was fired, Giants fans wished him well because of his personality – but admitted that he wasn’t very good at coaching the team. He was also criticized for not being very accountable, and seemingly giving generic responses to questions about big problems.
Judge, on the other hand, may do some things that rub certain people the wrong way. His handling of the Marc Colombo situation this season certainly did. But his method has proven effective so far. He removed Colombo when Colombo wouldn’t go with the team’s agenda, and when wide receiver Golden Tate had outbursts against the team earlier in the year because of his catches, Judge punished it by making him miss a game.
You can’t be nice all the time and still win many football games, and Judge has been willing to make tougher choices this season in a way that seems to be paying off on the field. After all, we’ve seen the offensive line improve after Judge stepped in to help with coaching it, eventually inserting his own pick as the offensive line coach. Had Judge been a coach that shies away from controversy more, we might not have seen that improvement.