The New York Giants’ head coaching search has come to an end. After firing Pat Shurmur on the 30th of last month, the Giants found their guy. That guy is New England Patriots Special Teams Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach, Joe Judge. Judge, an assistant coach of the Patriots for eight seasons, will look to get the struggling Giants back on track. With Baylor HC Matt Rhule garnering most of the attention of the media, Judge went unnoticed during the search. He interviewed with the Giants on Monday, and later that evening the two parties began working towards a deal. With all of the speculation around Rhule joining the Giants, it is easy to be confused why Judge ended up getting the job. Here’s why Joe Judge will be the 21st coach in franchise history:
Why Joe Judge Won the Job:
His experience with Saban/Belichick
Judge’s first major coaching job came at Alabama, where he was special teams assistant for multiple years. During those years, he worked alongside one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football – Nick Saban. While Saban did struggle a bit at being an NFL coach, his approach to the game is still admired by all. Before he was even 30 years old, Judge was being exposed to one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen.
In 2012, Judge made the jump to the NFL. He started out as a special teams assistant for the Patriots, and after the team’s victory in Super Bowl XLIX, Judge was upgraded to Special Teams Coordinator. Since 2015, Judge has helped orchestrate one of the best special teams units in the entire NFL. In 2019, he became the Wide Receivers Coach of the team.
Throughout all of his time in New England, Judge gained more and more respect from the greatest coach in NFL history – Bil Belichick. But Judge didn’t just work alongside Belichick, he was taught how to be an excellent coach. Belichick has been Judge’s biggest mentor, something that the Giants obviously found attractive.
The success of other special teams coordinators
While all head coach obviously has to start somewhere, very few of them come from special teams. Usually, a coach will have experience as an offensive/defensive coordinator or have had success as a head coach at the college level. But there are a number of coaches who have made the leap from special teams and found success. The most recent being Ravens HC John Harbaugh.
Harbaugh, who coached the Ravens to an NFL-best 14-2 record, was hired as the team’s head coach in 2008. Since then, Harbaugh has been one of the most successful head coaches in the NFL. He has won the AFC North four times, reached the playoffs eight times, and won a Lombardi trophy in 2012. The other most successful former special teams coordinator? Only Judge’s former workmate – Belichick.
What makes special teams coach’s so unique is their view on the game. Offensive and defensive coordinators only work with their side of the ball, and rarely interact with the players from the other side. Special teams coordinators, on the other hand, work with everyone. They put in arguably more time and effort than anyone besides the head coach himself.
The Matt Rhule situation
When Matt Rhule signed his seven-year, $60 million deal with the Panthers before even interviewing with the Giants, most assumed he was trying to avoid New York as a whole. But later reports said that Rhule called the Giants after receiving his offer, and gave the team the chance to match it. The Giants declined, showing that they were more than content with hiring Judge. They had their chance to get the guy they reportedly wanted, but they decided to go in a different direction. Was it the right decision? Well, we will have to wait and find out.