When Joe Judge was named Head Coach of the New York Giants, he was immediately faced with a tall task; finding a coaching staff to help him lead Big Blue. His first hire was a rather easy one, as he retained Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey. The biggest hire since then occurred on Sunday, as Judge hired ex-Dolphins Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham. Graham, who led the Dolphins to an NFL-worst 32nd ranked defense brings a lot of upside to the team. While at first glance, the hire looks a little questionable, but there are a number of reasons why Judge hired his former workmate. Here are three reasons why:
Why Joe Judge Hired Patrick Graham to be the Defensive Coordinator:
The New England connection
One of the hardest parts of being a first-time head coach is finding a coaching staff to help you win. Coach Judge made it clear he was going to take time and care during the hiring process. He also wanted to make sure every coach followed his philosophy about the game. The hiring of Patrick Graham reflects both of these points.
Perhaps the biggest reason Graham won the job was his prior work experience with Judge. The two worked together in New England for multiple years, with Graham spending time as the Linebackers and Defensive Line coach, while Judge coordinated the Special Teams unit. Having worked with Graham in the past, Judge knew he was getting a coach that preached toughness and discipline. Those two words sum up what Judge envisions the Giants becoming in the future.
The 3-4 scheme
When the Giants hired ex-Cardinals DC James Bettcher to lead the defense in 2017, he brought with him a 3-4 scheme. The scheme, which involves three defensive linemen and four linebackers on defense, was something many players were relatively new too. For two years, the Giants drafted players and signed free agents who had found success in the scheme at some point in their careers. Going away from the system would’ve been a major step-back.
While Graham’s 3-4 system was not the most effective in Miami, it will make the player’s transition to a new system a little bit easier. Outside Linebacker Markus Golden found great success in the 3-4 system this past season, recording a team-leading 10 sacks. Players such as Dexter Lawerence, Lorenzo Carter, and Oshane Ximines, were all drafted for use in a 3-4 system. Not switching to a 4-3 and keeping things simple will pay dividends to the Giants in 2020.
Graham’s experience with young players
Entering 2019, the Dolphins were the youngest teams in the NFL. Graham worked all season with a group that struggled mightily at the beginning of the year but improved greatly as the season went on. Having experience with young players will help Graham a lot in 2020, as the Giants are expected to be one of the youngest and least-experienced groups in the league.
It’s possible more than half of the Giants’ defensive starters will be on a rookie contract in 2020. This can be great for Big Blue if they have the right people leading them. And on paper, both Patrick Graham and Joe Judge look like they are more than capable of doing it.