New York Giants: Joe Judge Called The Team’s Largest Offseason Risk

New York Giants, Joe Judge

It was clear that the New York Giants were going to need a new head coach coming into 2020. The Pat Shurmur era didn’t work out, and losing the locker room had even some of the most optimistic voices calling for the Giants to make a change at coach at the end of the 2019 season. Things had hit a breaking point, and a lot of names were mentioned as options for a new head coach for the Giants.

One of the names that wasn’t brought up much at all was Joe Judge. However, that didn’t change what the Giants saw in Judge. It also didn’t change that they would eventually hire him to become the next head coach.

But Judge’s experience is limited. He’s never been an offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator. With the Patriots, he was the special teams coordinator. He was responsible for a part of the game that’s the most forgotten.

It’s a big risk for the Giants, even if Judge does have support from Nick Saban and Bill Belichick.

According to Bleacher Report, that’s the biggest risk that the Giants have taken this offseason.

To his credit, Judge hired a veteran with head coaching experience to run his offense in former Cowboys head man Jason Garrett.

But given the massive monkey wrench the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into the 2020 offseason, this year’s first-time head coaches (like Judge) face even more adversity than they usually would.

The Giants don’t just have a new head coach in Judge, but also many new staff members on offense and defense starting with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The Judge Administration is all new, making it an even bigger wild card for the team, and with potentially no preseason this year, we might not get to see a glimpse of how the move will pan out until September when the season begins.

But with the Giants having performed poorly under their past two staffs, a wild card is a welcome change at this point to a fanbase that’s tired of the same types of hires as Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur.

New York Giants: Julian Love talks offseason, how he wants to be a ‘factor’

New York Giants, Julian Love

Like the rest of the NFL, the New York Giants are in the midst of a virtual offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, defensive back Julian Love feels the offseason is going well.

In an appearance on the “Giants Huddle” podcast, Love said the Giants have worked trivia about their teammates and the New Jersey area into the mix.

“There’s an importance on getting to know the area because we’re the New York Giants and we encompass a lot of demographics, a lot of people, a lot of areas geographically as well,” Love said. “So part of it could be know the New Jersey area, know different areas of New York in trivia and geographic ways, and then there is get to know your teammates. It could be where somebody is from, what high school they went to, their picture and name this person – coaches as well. Everybody is involved into who could pop up on the trivia. So that’s a conversation starter with that person going forward. You learn such interesting [backstories] on people. I think you learn more doing that than you do in person with each other in a way.”

“That implementation has been awesome. I really enjoyed each day hopping online to meet with people and meet with teammates and to see what the new challenge is for that day. Communication has been flowing, very fluid and open. I think that’s important right now to build that camaraderie, which we’re not able to because we’re not in the facility together.”

Love feels he has been able to grasp new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s playbook.

“It’s tough at first, but they’ve done a great job setting up film, setting up meetings, certain PowerPoints,” Love said. “Some coaches might step back in the camera and demonstrate something, which is kind of funny. But I think it’s gone well. None of us can control what is happening right now and why we’re in this virtual setting, but all we can do is our very best to learn as much as possible in this setting. And I think we’ve done a great job so far. Everything is very easy, they put it in front of you, a lot of guys are asking a lot of questions, and I think that’s a start of building something great.”

Love finds that applying pressure is pivotal to one’s growth.

“I like to say I’m always confident in my abilities and learning playbooks and being intelligent, just learning to grow – and I am,” Love said. “I’m excited for all that, but then you’ve got to have that element of pressure behind you to be able to grow and get better. I think that’s kind of what I’ve always done every year of football no matter what level I’m at, no matter what I accomplished the year before. You’ve got to feel that element of pressure in order to grow.”

Love expresses how he wants to be a “factor” for the Giants.

“I want to just be a factor,” Love said. “I want to contribute in a positive way and do whatever I have to do to do that. Last year – I don’t want to talk about last year too much – but I tried to be there in any way I could [by] knowing the playbook, knowing different things I could do to see the field and just try to help. And it’s not for, ‘Oh, I want to play, I want to play.’ No, I want to help. I want to build on this. So my personal goal is just to be ready for that.”

The Giants selected Love with the 108th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He was inserted into the starting lineup when safety Jabrill Peppers suffered an injury in a Week 12 matchup against the Chicago Bears. Love started five games, totaling 37 combined tackles, five tackles for loss and one interception.

New York Giants, Joe Judge to ‘push’ Leonard Williams

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams is entering his first full season with the New York Giants. The Giants acquired Williams from the New York Jets before last season’s NFL trade deadline for a 2020 third- and 2021 fifth-round draft pick. The Giants utilized the franchise tag on Williams this offseason, which pays him roughly $16.1 million for the 2020 season.

New head coach Joe Judge is encouraged by the team’s conversations with Williams, and the Giants have made it clear that they plan to “push” the defensive lineman.

“Leonard has had a really good spring in terms of what we’re able to do working virtually,” Judge said, per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News. “He’s done a phenomenal job working with our coaches. He’s been great in meetings. He’s been very active. We’ve had great conversations. And we’ve expressed to him how much we’re gonna work and push him, that we want to see him maximize his potential.”

Judge says there has been minimal talk about a long-term deal for Williams.

“There have not been extensive talks on contracts since the spring’s gone virtual.”

The head coach wants Williams to maximize his potential this season.

“The biggest focus I have on Leonard right now is that this year, he can really go ahead and maximize his potential. I’m looking forward to working with him for this year, and I’m really looking forward to working with him on the field, finally, to be honest with you.”

The Giants have put a lot of stock in their defensive line. Alongside Williams is Dexter Lawrence (one of the team’s three first-round draft selections in 2017), Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, RJ McIntosh, and Austin Johnson, a free-agent signee.

Williams appeared in eight games for the Giants last season. Across those games, he totaled 26 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, and 0.5 sacks. Across his five seasons in the NFL, Williams has totaled 266 combined tackles and 17.5 sacks.

New York Giants: Expect A Slow Start And Strong Finish In 2020

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants have rebuilt their roster and coaching staff once again. They fired Pat Shurmur and hired new head coach Joe Judge as his replacement. Judge constructed an experienced coaching staff full of like-minded individuals. Judge has many previous connections with the members of his staff, whether that be from Alabama or New England.

Now the youthful New York Giants will enter the 2020 season with brand new offensive and defensive schemes, along with a new locker room culture. There is a lot to be excited about. Daniel Jones is entering his second NFL season with a new and improved offensive line and offensive coordinator. Along with a fully healthy Saquon Barkley, there are many reasons to believe the Giants’ offense will be successful this season.

The same goes for the defensive side of the ball. The Giants have built a talented secondary with standout names such as Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers, and James Bradberry. Combine that with the new, man-coverage and blitz-heavy defensive scheme from Patrick Graham, and there are reasons to believe the Giants’ defense will be a vastly improved unit.

I believe the Giants will see improvement in 2020. There was a lot of talent acquired this offseason and I believe Joe Judge and his staff will be a major improvement. However, I do not see the Giants achieving overnight success. This has been a historically tumultuous offseason, and even with all these improvements, the Giants are going to get off to a slow start in 2020.

Getting Up To Speed

The New York Giants have a completely new coaching staff entering the 2020 NFL season. Both sides of the ball will need to grow accustomed to the way the men in charge run things. There are new playbooks to be learned and mastered. All of this needs to be done despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is keeping players and coaches separated.

One would hope that the team has any inconsistencies ironed out by the time the season begins. Whether the timing on some route combinations is a second off or the disguise on some blitzes is too complex, there are going to be hiccups for this young New York Giants team. Even with a full offseason and no pandemic, there would still be hiccups.

The Giants are new and improved. But they might not play like it until the end of the season. Joe Judge has been dealt a really bad hand. He has seen two of his players get arrested this offseason and has had to work through the internet due to a world pandemic. Every team has to deal with the stress of coronavirus, but not every team has to deal with such a challenge with a rookie head coach. The Giants will work through these challenges but expect to see numerous hiccups along the way.

Former Patriot says Giants’ Joe Judge and Patrick Graham have ‘tremendous work ethic’

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants brought in Joe Judge to turn over the disciplinary tactics utilized by the coaching staff and hired Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator, a diverse play-caller with immense knowledge and experience in the NFL.

The Giants have failed to implement a fundamental-centric team that does their job correctly. Ultimately, there have been on-field mistakes littered across the past few seasons, and Judge will look to eliminate those to improve the overall efficiency of the team. Coming from New England, Judge is bringing a winning mentality to New York, something that has been absent over the past few seasons

Former Patriot Rob Ninkovich had nothing but good things to say about New York Giants’ head coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, referencing their “tremendous work ethic” while appearing on the “Giants Huddle Podcast.

“Well, I think they have a tremendous work ethic,” Ninkovich said. “I was with Pat a long time. Me and Pat are very close and good friends. He helped me a lot in my career because he was so thorough in everything that he did in preparation. Same with Joe Judge. Joe Judge is going to be a guy that’s first in, last guy out. He’ll probably sleep there four or five nights a week. I know that sounds crazy, but he’s that into it. Same with Pat. Those guys, they’re not going to leave any stone unturned when it comes to preparation.”

“Coach Graham and Joe Judge are going to hold guys accountable, which is very much so needed in the NFL. You have to be accountable. You have to be expected to play at a high level week in and week out,” he said.

Having coaches that are connected and have experience with one another is essential for the overall development of the team. Ever since Tom Coughlin left to become the general manager for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Giants have been void of disciplinary tactics and a winning culture. Judge set out to fix that problem, primarily by bringing in high character players that have one goal in mind, to win.

Of course, having two players arrested this off-season has not been a great start to his tenure, but the virtual aspect of things disallows him from keeping his team in check. This cannot be blamed on him by any means, but I imagine over the next few seasons, he will begin to refine the types of people he brings into the building.

New York Giants: How much bad luck has Joe Judge had since joining Big Blue?

New York Giants, Joe Judge

When the New York Giants hired Joe Judge as their new head coach, they imagined a clean transition from Pat Shurmur. The former coach was let go after two seasons of losing football, and in year two, the team saw a major decrease in production and efficiency. Injuries played a significant part, but Shurmur’s playcalling became stagnant and his in-game management was inadequate.

Judge is bringing ample experience from Alabama and New England. Having learned from Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, Judge has the tools to develop into a top-flight head coach. However, his transition to the Giants has been rocky, bumpy, and excruciatingly painful. Judges had to endure a global pandemic affecting the way he adapted to a new team, especially in New York, where the media finds anything to pick away at your confidence.

The former NE Special Team’s coordinator did give some insight into how players have been adapting to virtual meetings, per Giants.com:

I think a lot of the things we’re trying to build within the culture right now are showing up based on the circumstances that we have allotted to us and how hard the players are working. That’s really what we’re looking to build, is that culture of everyone doing whatever it takes to be successful. Right now, we’re seeing that across the board with our players. I’m very pleased in how they come every day prepared. I’m pleased with how they come every day with a lot of urgency. We’re getting great feedback and communication through the meetings with the players themselves. As far as building comradery with them, probably the best part of the day is when you can click on the Zoom and everyone has their screens unmuted and you just hear the guys talking across.

The New York Giants have been in good standing under Joe Judge so far:

Nonetheless, Judge has shown his resiliency during these times. We have not heard a single negative thing coming out of the New York camp, despite all of the players meeting virtually. The only disturbance was DeAndre Baker’s incident, which seems to be on its way to exoneration, according to his lawyer.

The pandemic force judge to evaluate NFL draft prospects on a virtual plane, which can heavily affect what players is chosen. The Giants ended up with Andrew Thomas, the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, who seems to be a fantastic selection and person coming out of Georgia.

Judge has stated in the past that he likes to have in-person contact with prospects to gauge their personality and character. Doing it over Zoom was difficult, but he managed to secure a few great humans and players in the process.

Despite all of the setbacks, Judge and the coaching staff are now allowed to return to the Giants’ facilities and begin operating under normal circumstances for the first time since he signed on with Big Blue.

 

How Giants’ Joe Judge and Ravens’ Jon Harbaugh Approached Their First Drafts and Why It Matters

New York Giants, Joe Judge

Head coaches are selected from factors such as philosophy, the ability to hire excellent staff, and strong leadership. Once in a while, these coveted strengths are found in special teams coaches, including New York Giants coach Joe Judge and the last special teams coach to make the leap, Baltimore Ravens’ current head coach John Harbaugh. Let’s examine their first forays into the NFL draft as head coaches.

 

  1. QUARTERBACKS AND OFFENSIVE TACKLES

 

The two coaches both had to face their first NFL drafts as unproven head coaches, and their approach couldn’t be more different. In 2008, the Ravens were not comfortable with who they had under center. In 2007, starter Kyle Boller only started 12 games and threw a paltry nine touchdowns. The Ravens spent their first-round selection (pick #18) on Joe Flacco, a quarterback from the University of Delaware. Flacco has gone on to bring home a Super Bowl.

The New York Giants already began 2020 with a quarterback in Daniel Jones, but like the Ravens, they knew the importance of shoring up the offense by drafting offensive tackle Andrew Thomas from Georgia. Judge and the Giants continued to bolster the offensive line taking Matt Peart (third round/pick #99).

The Ravens wouldn’t draft a tackle until Oniel Cousins from UTEP in the third round (pick #99). Cousins was waived in 2010 after playing both the guard and tackle positions in very limited capacities for the Ravens. They also drafted David Hale (fourth round/pick #133) another OT late in the draft. He played eighteen games before being cut in the 2010 preseason.

The Giants already spent elsewhere (including Solder, Zeitler, and Tate), so bolstering the offensive line in the draft was necessary to stay under the cap and give Jones some added protection.

 

  1. THE PERCEIVED VALUE OF RUNNING BACKS

 

The second round of the 2008 draft would also prove interesting for the Ravens, and while not comparable directly with Judge the Raven’s pick would showcase their similarity with the current Giants front office. They used their second pick (#55) on running back Ray Rice. The Ravens would release Rice in 2014 while on suspension for domestic violence. Prior to his released, he amassed 3 Pro-Bowl selections, 37 touchdowns, and over 6,000 rushing yards.

This selection is undoubtedly reflective of Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman and his staff after selecting Saquon Barkley with the second pick in the 2018 draft. In just two seasons, Barkley has tallied one Pro-Bowl selection and 2,300 rushing yards. Both front offices believed in the value of running backs and what they bring to the offense. Whether or not Barkley’s value continues to satisfy the Giants’ front office and coaching staff remains to be seen, but the current evidence certainly suggests he’s doing his part to keep the offense running.

 

  1. DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO THE LINEBACKER PROBLEM

 

In the third round, the Ravens selected Tavares Gooden, a linebacker from Miami. Gooden struggled to stay healthy and was released in 2011. Judge refrained from drafting a linebacker so early in the draft, but the Giants already used some of their financial capital in March when they signed Blake Martinez, a proven linebacker, to a three-year 30 million dollar contract. Judge still valued drafting a linebacker and took Cam Brown late (sixth round/pick #183). The Ravens felt more confident than the Giants in taking a linebacker in the draft, but both organizations still nabbed one. At the same time, the Giants ultimately placed more value on a proven commodity in Martinez.

 

  1. SAFELY DRAFTING SAFETIES

 

Harbaugh used two picks in 2008 on safeties. Tom Zbikowski from Notre Dame (third round/pick #86) and Haruki Nakamura from Cincinnati (sixth round/pick #206) were both expected to be real contributors. Zbikowski played 56 games for the Ravens, including 14 games as a starter. Nakamura was a solid player but never became a standout before signing with the Panthers in 2012.

The Giants did its best to improve the secondary by drafting safety Xavier McKinney (round two/pick #36) from Alabama. He was First Team All-SEC in 2019 and recorded 82 tackles as a senior.

 

  1. TAKEAWAYS

 

There are a few takeaways from comparing the two drafts. It’s incredibly clear that the draft is impossible to get right. Most of the picks the Ravens were counting on didn’t last more than a few years. And Ray Rice may have had impeccable NFL stats, but his domestic violence charges made him rightfully impossible to keep. The only success story the Ravens had was Joe Flacco, but if you can hit on a quarterback, you’ve had a successful draft. What happens with this 2020 Giants draft is impossible to declare at this point.

Both coaches, though clearly placed value on offensive tackles, linebackers, and safeties, whether in the draft of free agency. They both clearly wanted to invest in protecting the quarterback, supporting the defensive linemen, and bulking up the pass coverage. These three things have been an anemic deficiency in the Giants scheme for years. Hopefully, Judge and Gettleman solved this problem through the 2020 draft, but only time will tell.

Giants’ Dalvin Tomlinson on Familiar Turf With New Coaching Staff

New York Giants, Dalvin Tomlinson

There was some speculation on whether the New York Giants would seek to extend the rookie contract of defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson, who is entering the final year of that deal this season.

The 55th overall selection out of Alabama in the 2017 NFL Draft has been a key contributor for two coaching staffs in his short NFL career and with a new staff coming in, his future in Blue likely hinges on his performance in 2020.

Or maybe not. Tomlinson has some hooks on the Giants’ incoming staff in head coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Judge actually recruited Tomlinson when he was an assistant under Nick Saban at Alabama. He is optimistic that the trio will hit it off from the start.

“Coach Judge is a great guy. I remember when I was getting recruited by Alabama, that was when I met him for the first time,” Tomlinson told reporters on a conference call this week. “It’s just crazy how small the world is. He’s a great guy and so is the whole coaching staff. Every day you come in the locker room, just make sure you are ready to work every day. Bring your A game and make sure everyone around you is ready to work. That’s all you can do, come to work and do your best.”

Graham was the Giants’ defensive line coach under Ben McAdoo when Tomlinson was a rookie. He is very familiar with Graham and his tactics and knows what will be expected of him this season.

“He’s a great coach, super high energy,’ said Tomlinson. “He coaches you to the fullest because he wants the full potential brought out of you. Back then, the way he coached the D-line, you could just tell he was going to be a D-coordinator soon.”

Tomlinson will be coached by former Penn State defensive front coach Sean Spencer, who is well-respected in coaching circles.

“Super high energy guy,’ said Tomlinson. “He always has energy no matter what time of the day it is. I’m looking forward to doing some of his drills when we get back to practice.”

Second-round picks don’t get the benefit of a fifth-year option like first round selections do. In many cases, they have to go into their fourth seasons, regardless of their achievements, with their career status uncertain.

Tomlinson is not looking past this season, further exemplifying his commitment to team over personal issues. That will go a long way with Judge, who has stressed that these are type of players he is seeking to build around. The fact that Tomlinson has dressed -and started – all 48 games since becoming a Giant in 2017 should only add to his value.

“Pretty much we have been taking every day one day at a time because of the pandemic,” he said. “I’m not really focused on the contract because all I can do is try to get better and be as much prepared as I can for when we get back to training camp and get back to the facility as early as possible. I have been focusing on getting better and improving with my teammates as much as possible, that’s my biggest goal right now.”

New York Giants: 2020 Training Camp Could Be Relocated

New York Giants rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones.

The New York Giants have concluded rookie minicamp, but training camp remains a mystery. The team may require a change in plans thanks to the quarantines still effecting the New York and New Jersey area, which have already affected the offseason by preventing the staff from being able to meet with players as would usually happen. One of those changes in plans may end up being a relocation to another site for training camp.

That’s according to head coach Joe Judge, who said as much on a conference call with reporters. He called it one of multiple scenarios the Giants are mapping out.

“In terms of relocating, our ops department is doing a great job right now mapping out a lot of different scenarios in terms of, if for some reason we have to relocate, making connections around the area, around the country, as to whatever we may need to do,” Judge said.

Unlike some teams that already hold training camp outside of their main locale, the Giants would normally hold their training camp right in East Rutherford – this, however, isn’t a normal offseason.

The Giants are waiting on direction from the NFL to move back to regular training rather than the remote programs the Giants have used earlier in this offseason.

“We’re waiting on direction from the league in terms of making a decision on that. Hopefully, in a perfect world, we’re all back in New Jersey training sooner than later. But we’re planning for a lot of hypotheticals and, if they come up, we’re not caught by surprise,” Judge continued. “Look, I would love to have them in Jersey right now. I would love for the setup of a remote campus, if that were what is necessary. But getting to the campus and making sure while we’re there we’re not exposed to anything, we have to consider that as well.”

Under normal circumstances this training camp would be rather anticipated because it’s the first under a new head coach and the Giants have added a number of additions on offense and defense, while welcoming back a second year starter at quarterback.

All of those narratives, however, may be overshadowed by the conversation on whether or not training camp will happen at all given the situation right now.

Giants Talking to Markus Golden Regarding Possible Reunion

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The prospects of the New York Giants bringing back outside linebacker Markus Golden this year were getting dimmer and dimmer until the Giants placed the little-used UFA tender on him right after the NFL Draft.

Golden, who has drawn very little interest since becoming an unrestricted free agent in mid-March, now has until July 22 to sign a free agent contract with another team or else his rights will revert back to the Giants for the 2020 season.

It’s a rarely used tender, but Giants head coach Joe Judge comes from the New England school of yanking out little-known rules to their advantage. The tender does several things. It forces Golden to reset his value in the marketplace so that he can find a new team whether that be the Giants or not. More importantly, if he does sign with another team it makes him eligible for the compensatory pick formula in 2021. Right now, the Giants are severely underwater on that end and could use some help, although noting is guaranteed.

Judge, speaking on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, spoke of the current situation regarding Golden.

“Yes, I have spoken with Markus,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a player. He’s a great person, he’s a hard worker. He’s a productive player so we have a lot of respect for him. He’s definitely someone that I have spoken to in terms of possibly adding to the roster. We placed the tag on him. That’s something that’s allotted to us through the league rules. We thought that it was a situation when it came up and was available to us, it was something we could use.”

“We have an interest in Markus, we’ve talked to him. We are going through the procedure right now. We’re going to let it play out a little bit and see where everything shakes out.”

Golden had ten sacks for the Giants in 2019 playing on a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal worth $3.75 million. He went into free agency seeking a contract that would pay him approximately $10 million per year. No team has the appetite for that and he remains unsigned to this day.

The 29-year-old Golden was brought in last year to play under then defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who coached Golden to a 12.5 sack season in Arizona several years ago. Golden rekindled his career in 2019 after two down seasons marred by injury and a position change but not enough to pique the interest of NFL GMs.

Where the Giants see Golden fitting into defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s schemes is unknown but you can’t have enough pass rushers and right now the Giants don’t seem to have many at all.

The rubber will meet the road on this in the terms of how much it will cost the Giants to sign Golden. hey currently have $16.9 million in available salary cap space but $12 million of that is earmarked for the 2020 draft class.