If Joe Judge is going to be a successful as head coach of the New York Giants, there are four things he must accomplish early in his tenure.
Shortly after taking the job, Judge expressed his gratitude to the Giants organization for this opportunity.
“I am humbled and honored,” Judge said via Michael Eisen of Giants.com. “I want to thank John Mara, Steve Tisch, Dave Gettleman and Kevin Abrams for this opportunity. Over the past couple of days, we had great conversations about where this team is and where it is headed and how we are going to get there. My job is to lead our players and coaches. The mission is clear, to win games. There is a process to reaching that objective, and we will implement that process and work that process starting today.”
Judge’s hiring is a surprise considering few outside the Giants organization had him on the radar prior to this week. Judge has never been an offensive coordinator, let alone a head coach, and this is why this is a risky hire for a team that has gone 12-36 over the past three seasons.
Judge spent the last 11 seasons working under two of the most successful coaches in football history in Nick Saban and Bill Belichick. From 2009 to 2011 he was Alabama’s special teams assistant.
Then in 2012, he joined the Patriots as the team’s assistant special teams coach, a position he held for three years. He was elevated to special teams coordinator in 2015 and was given the additional responsibility of coaching the wide receivers in 2019 after Chad O’Shea left the Patriots to become the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins.
Time will tell if the Giants made the right decision in hiring Judge, but there are several things Judge must address if he’s going to have success as head coach.
1. Hire experienced offensive and defensive coordinators
As is the case with all rookie head coaches, Judge will make his share of mistakes. That’s why it’s imperative Judge has a strong staff with tons of experience to make a smooth transition to head coaching.
Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has been rumored to be a possible option for offensive coordinator. Another possibility is Norv Turner who has spent the last two seasons as the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator, but might be let go as Matt Rhule puts his coaching staff in place.
As for hiring a defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, who is one of the best defensive minds in NFL history, is available after the Rams informed him that they would not be renewing his contract. Phillips would immediately improve a Giants defense that ranked 25th overall last season.
All of these candidates have prior head coaching experience and would make life easier for Judge.
2. Build a bond with Daniel Jones
The continued development of Daniel Jones is vital as he faces his second season in the league. Jones enters 2020 as the unquestioned starter but won’t have Eli Manning or Pat Shurmur, who both helped with his growth and development as a rookie.
The relationship between quarterback and head coach is paramount to team success. Judge must develop a rapport with his young quarterback and build a bond as they look to turn the Giants’ fortunes around.
3. Consider keeping Tyke Tolbert and Thomas McGaughey on the coaching staff
Like most head coaches, Judge will want to bring his own guys to join his coaching staff. But there are two coaches currently on the payroll who deserve to stick around. Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey consistently bring out the best in their players.
Tolbert had to deal with injuries and suspensions to his receiving corps, but they were still productive throughout the season. Additionally, Tolbert helped develop rookie Darius Slayton into a solid all-around receiver.
The Giants special teams unit was the best of their three units as they finished 17th overall per Footballoutsiders.com.
Judge’s background is in special teams and wide receivers, but as a head coach, he can feel confident delegating these units to Tolbert and McGaughey.
4. Be Joe Judge, not Bill Belichick 2.0
The lack of success that Belichick’s assistants have had as head coaches is well documented. One of the possible reasons for the lack of success for Belichick assistants is because they try to mimic their mentor’s stern demeanor.
By most accounts, Judge has an outgoing personality that can energize his players. He needs to remain true to himself rather than trying to be another Belichick clone. He needs to be the first Joe Judge, not the next Bill Belichick.