New York Giants Update: OLB coach Bret Bielema leaves for Illinois, another coach tests positive with COVID

New York Giants, Bret Bielema

2020 has been a tough year for everyone, but the New York Giants continue to take hits in the injury department and with coaches leaving mid-season. Several weeks ago, head coach Joe Judge fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo, instituting the coaching staff’s first departure.

Now, outside linebackers coach Brett Bielema, who has been looking for an alternative coaching job all season long in the college sphere, has decided to take a head coaching gig at Illinois.

At 50 years old, Bielema will receive a four-year contract with a starting salary of $4.2 million, indicating a massive pay raise, per ESPN. As for his replacement, the Giants will elevate defensive assistant Jody Wright and tap inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer to consume Brett’s responsibilities.

The Giants continue to rotate through coaches in the first season under Judge, but they have accepted these changes in stride and will hopefully push forward without any setbacks.

Bielema also coached with the New England Patriots, which is where he is familiar with Judge from. He followed him over to the Giants this past off-season, but the money certainly is better as a head coach for a college team.

More COVID-19 test for the New York Giants:

After Jason Garrett contracted COVID on Thursday, the Giants shut down the facility on Friday for a majority of personnel. They have been contact-tracing since, and it has been discovered that assistant Stephen Brown has also tested positive for COVID-19.

“The Giants have been informed that offensive assistant Stephen Brown has tested positive for COVID-19. He immediately self-isolated, and we are currently working with the league’s chief medical officer regarding close contacts,” the team said in a statement. “Quest Diagnostics Training Center remains open, and the team is following their normal practice and meeting schedule today.”

Cornerback James Bradberry was also exposed to a positive case, so he will have to sit for Sunday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns. The Giants and the majority of the NFL continue to battle the COVID virus, but it has undoubtedly shaped the season and affected every team in some way.

New York Giants: Recapping Today’s Practice

The New York Giants practiced today after taking Saturday off. The offense and defense faced off earlier this Friday for the first intra-squad scrimmage of training camp. Today, though, the team had a standard practice. Despite the COVID scare in the NFL today, the Giants still held their walkthrough.

In the NFL, multiple teams had positive COVID tests from Saturday’s daily testing. The Giants were one of the teams that had staff members test positive. But, according to reports, the tests around the league were false positive. There was an issue at a lab in New Jersey. The Giants and all other teams affected took the necessary precautions, but it appears that these tests were inaccurate and there is not actually a spike in COVID cases within the NFL.

Today’s Practice Recap

The Giants had a light practice today. It was an easy Sunday as the players continue to recover from their hard scrimmage on Friday. The team is likely to speed things up again tomorrow, though, after today’s practice was “little more than a walkthrough.”

Two key players did not participate in today’s practice: linebacker Ryan Connelly and fullback Eli Penny.

Quarterbacks coach Joe Schuplisnki offered some praise for the team’s young quarterback, Daniel Jones, today. Schuplinski explained that he worked out Daniel Jones before the 2019 NFL Draft (with the Patriots) and thought his “arm looked good.” But the quarterbacks coach thinks Jones’s arm “looks even stronger now.” Schuplinski said this has been “eye-opening” for him.

Practice Highlights

Second-year wide receiver Darius Slayton made an impressive toe-tap touchdown catch today:

Post-Practice Quotes

The Giants have practiced hard throughout training camp. It has been high-intensity, but there have not been any fights yet. If fights do happen, though, head coach Joe Judge has a response plan:

“If you fight in a game, you get penalized and get ejected. We’ll play nasty, not dirty. If you get thrown out for fighting in a game, you can get kicked out of practice.” – Joe Judge on team fights during practice via Matt Lombardo

Joe Judge is still delivering on his promises: this will be a disciplined, no-nonsense team under his control. Judge has been receiving plenty of praise and criticism for his hard, disciplined practice style so far. But the players and assistant coaches have all had positive things to say about Judge. Outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema said today: “There’s no falseness to it, there’s no just trying to put a certain look. It’s just him being real.” Judge has made an authentic, genuine impression on his staff.

New York Giants Staff Intact As Bielema Doesn’t Get Colorado Job

New York Giants, Bret Bielema

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge has only just finished compiling his staff for the 2020 season, but the team already received a scare in that area as outside linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant Bret Bielema was connected to different jobs a couple of times already. Bielema was first said to be a candidate to replace Mark Dantonio at Michigan State, and then the rumors switched to the open Colorado job once the Spartans named their choice.

If Bielema did end up with either of those jobs, it would put the Giants in a mildly difficult spot as they would have to find another outside linebackers coach and potentially someone to fill his defensive assistant role after it was already believed that the staff was in its final form. Such a situation may not have been the easiest, with many of the names on the open market having already been hired this far into the offseason.

That’s not something the Giants will actually have to worry about, however, because it looks like Colorado has found their ideal candidate for their head coaching job – and it’s not Bielema.

Colorado is going for Karl Dorrell instead and that means the Giants staff is safe for now after other candidates have been chosen over Bielema two times so far for college head coaching jobs.

Of course, its not exactly unreasonable for Bielema to consider college jobs – while he did just join the Giants recently, most of Bielema’s fame comes from being a head coach at the college level, and it seems like it’s inevitable that the coach returns there at some point.

Despite being a consultant and then a line coach with the Patriots for his last job before taking this one, the NFL has only ever seemed like a small chapter of his career compared to being the head coach at Wisconsin and then Arkansas and leading those teams against some of the best programs in the country.

Bielema’s stint with the Giants, however, will last at least one year before returning to the college level is a consideration, it seems, which works out nicely for head coach Joe Judge who won’t have to scramble to find a late replacement.

New York Giants could lose defensive coach to college football

New York Giants, Bret Bielema

It’s always interesting when a coach, who seemingly signs on with a team, continues to look for new opportunities elsewhere. Usually, when you sign a contract and agree to work for an employer, the job-hunt ends there, but not for New York Giants’ OLB coach, Bret Bielema, who’s seeking a head coaching gig at the collegiate level.

Bielema was passed over for the Michigan State job, which allowed the Giants to continue forward with their original plan that would feature the former New England man on defense. However, opportunities begin to unveil themselves as Colorado now has an opening, and there’s “mutual interest.”

What did New York Giants’ Joe Judge have to say about Bret Bielema:

Giants’ new head coach, Joe Judge, has been nothing but advocational for Bielema, who brings positivity and relatability.

“There’s a lot of things (to like) about Bret,” Judge said. “I think Bret brings a great personality to the group, brings a great perspective on how he sees the game, he’s coached the front for some time, he’s coordinated defenses at a high level. Players respond to Bret in a positive way. He has a great way of teaching, he has a great way of getting the guys motivated, and he gets the most out of his players.

“He brings experience from the NFL, as well as college, so not only does he understand what’s going on in the league now, he understands what the players coming from college are used to and how to better translate the trends they’re going to see.”

Ideally, Bielema would stay put with Big Blue and help form a new defensive unit for years to come, but Judge must have a backup plan in place if he wishes to develop his outside linebackers successfully. As of now, Bret is still set to feature as the OLB coach, but things can change very quickly as colleges plug new HCs into position.

New York Giants Could Lose Senior Assistant To MSU Coaching Job

The New York Giants are expected to not make any more coaching hires for this offseason since it seems their staff roster is complete, but that could change if one member of the defensive staff ends up leaving to join Michigan State as a head coach. The Spartans are of course looking for their first new head coach in over a decade after the surprise retirement of Mark Dantonio, who had been in charge since the 2007 season, and they may look to the NFL ranks for a candidate.

The Giants have one assistant coach that was notable in past years for being a head coach at the college level: Bret Bielema, who was head coach at Wisconsin and Arkansas before moving to the NFL as a Patriots consultant and then as the defensive line coach for their defense which was one of the top performing in the league for a lot of the year.

His stint at Arkansas was far from a success story but with the excuse of playing in a hard SEC West existing and with newfound experience working under Bill Belichick, that might not keep Bielema out of the race to become the Michigan State head coach.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the job is also one that Bielema has interest in. It makes sense, of course – being a head coach at a major college program almost always beats being a position coach and assistant in the NFL.

And according to a source with knowledge of the situation, former Wisconsin and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has “definite” interest in succeeding Mark Dantonio, who retired Tuesday after 13 seasons.

If Bielema does end up taking the job, which isn’t a certainty as MSU will be evaluating a number of candidates and not necessarily going for Bielema, the Giants will have to find another candidate for the outside linebackers coach position before getting deeper into the offseason. Bielema is also listed as a senior defensive assistant, so depending on the specific nature of that role, a replacement may be needed for that position.

Giants fans may be unhappy to see that one of the team’s coaches could potentially leave already, but it’s not surprising – Joe Judge has put together a staff with a number of former head coaches, and at some point many of these figures will try to return to head coaching rather than remaining assistants long term. It’s just slightly surprising for this inherent problem to come up this soon.

New York Giants: Former Belichick Staff Member To Serve As OLB Coach

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants seem to have done a great job so far with bringing on experienced coaching talent to their staff, and one of the latest hires is Bret Bielema, who was not only the head coach at the University of Arkansas as well as Wisconsin, but also spent the last season coaching for Bill Belichick in New England as the defensive line coach of the Patriots.

Bielema was hired by the Giants after a brief period of speculation and now we know a bit more about the signing through the revelation of Bielema’s role with the team and official title – it turns out it’s not related to the defensive line this time. Bielema will be the coach of the outside linebackers position group as well as a senior assistant.

What exactly senior assistant entails isn’t known to the public but it makes some sense for Joe Judge to seek experienced assistants to take on big roles – Judge himself, after all, is younger than retiring quarterback Eli Manning. As a coach younger than the vast majority of others in the same position, Judge could likely use the experience of the number of former head coaches that have been hired by the Giants this offseason, Bielema included.

Interestingly enough, this may lead to Bielema coaching the Giants’ first round draft pick this year if they decide to take Isaiah Simmons with their first pick, in the top five. Simmons is one of the top prospects linked to the team after they fell too far in draft position to take Chase Young, and could potentially benefit from an experienced position coach helping him as he enters the league.

The hire also seems to bring more Patriots DNA into the Giants organization – but with the recent differences in success between the two franchises, that doesn’t look like a bad thing.

BREAKING: New York Giants to hire Freddie Kitchens

New York Giants, Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants are expected to hire former Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens to their staff, per Matt Zenitz.

The role is not yet defined, but Kitchens and current Giants HC Joe Judge spent time together at Mississippi State. Kitchens tenure in Cleveland was short-lived after a disappointing 6-10 season.  Prior to being named the Browns head coach, Kitchens was given credit for improving the Browns offense and assisting then-rookie QB Baker Mayfield have a successful rookie season.

Prior to his time in Cleveland, Freddie Kitchens worked with the Arizona Cardinals.  He began his career in Arizona as the tight ends coach, which is the same position he held prior to joining the Cardinals with the Dallas Cowboys.  There is some speculation that this could be Freddie Kitchens’s role with the New York Giants.

The addition is another experienced presence being added to Joe Judge’s staff in New York.  Kitchens will join other experienced assistants in Jason Garrett (offensive coordinator), Patrick Graham (defensive coordinator/assistant head coach), Jerry Schuplinski (quarterbacks coach), Burton Burns (running backs coach), Thomas McGaughey (special teams coordinator), Bret Bielema (expected defensive line coach) and Jerome Henderson (defensive backs coach).