New York Giants head coach Joe Judge doesn’t throw his players under the bus. That’s been a running theme throughout his time as head coach, for better or worse. Arguably, it’s one of the reasons why the team has avoided checking out completely even towards the end of a lost season. With that being said, this quality can also be a negative when the results on the field aren’t improving and Judge insists on standing by a losing roster.
Judge was confronted with the question of whether this roster needs more talent on Monday, and chose to double down on his usual policy.
“I’m not going to make any statements right now that’s going to put any one of my players under the bus,” Judge said when asked if talent was the missing piece for the Giants. This, of course, is because Judge has repeatedly claimed that coaching and culture are already present.
“I think you understand how I’m answering that question based on how it was phrased. I appreciate the job you have to do and the things you have to look for, but I’m going to tell you right now, if you’re looking for someone to go ahead and find a scapegoat and point a finger at someone, I’m not the guy who’s going to be the one to give you that answer you’re looking for, but I appreciate the question,” Judge continued.
This, perhaps, would have been a more understandable response earlier in Judge’s tenure. But with this little performance in year two compared to year one, answers like this one are starting to fall on deaf ears. And it may not help anyone in the long run.
Is Joe Judge right to stand by players?
On one hand, there’s an argument to be made that the players are loyal to Judge because of Judge standing by them in public. Judge appears to have retained the locker room for longer than his predecessor, and that is one of the few positives to take away from his otherwise rough second season in charge. If the Giants do retain Judge for a third year, this ability to hold the respect of the players will probably be one of the main reasons why.
However, it’s debatable whether sticking with the players really helps right now.
The fact of the matter is that this current roster doesn’t win. The Giants have been a rebuilding team since Judge arrived, and that rebuild has no end in sight. Even if Judge is a popular coach with the current group of players, it looks likelier than not that many of them will be on different teams or out of the league in a couple of years.
In today’s NFL, it’s more popular to be a players’ coach. But that formula works far better for winning teams, and the Giants are far from being that right now. It looks like the current roster needs a teardown before it can get better, not public backing that avoids ruffling feathers but doesn’t push for better.
Will Judge’s popularity in the locker room help him retain his job?
Judge right now is a players’ coach on a losing team, and attempting to protect that reputation instead of giving a harsher dose of reality isn’t going to win Judge any favors with a fanbase that expects results. It’s hard to say whether it will help him out when ownership makes a decision on his job status in the offseason. But it’s hard to imagine that publicly defending the current status quo in the name of not throwing players under the bus would help, if the Giants are serious about making a change.
Regardless, we’ll know fairly soon whether this strategy is paying off for Judge. With only one game left this season, the focus for the Giants organization will soon shift to the offseason and matters such as which staff members will come back.