Joe Judge
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Despite not having any head coaching experience, there are several reasons to believe 38-year-old Joe Judge can fix the New York Giants. 

Jason Leach

On Thursday, the New York Giants introduced Joe Judge as the 19th head coach in the history of the franchise. Introductory press conferences don’t win games, but Judge had as well of an introduction as humanly possible.

He was confident, straightforward and showcased exuberance when speaking about what type of team his Giants will resemble. Still, it won’t come easy.

Judge has a daunting task ahead of him. He takes over a team that has gone 12-36 over the last three seasons and has missed the playoffs seven of the last eight tries.

That said, there are reasons to believe Judge will have more success and a longer tenure as head coach than Pat Shurmur and Ben McAdoo before him.

He will make the Giants a more physical team

One of the points Judge reiterated during his press conference revolves around team identity. He wants to make the Giants a more fundamentally sound and physical squad that reflects the hardworking NY/NJ metropolitan area. One of the ways Judge plans to do this is to have the Giants practice in pads more often, which means tackling the right way will continue to be taught.

Being a physical team will always help a team prevail in close games, as the physicality they impose to wear down an opponent. Five of the Giants losses this past season were decided by one possession.

Judge wouldn’t commit to a number of wins he expects the Giants to win in 2020. But with the Giants having a more physical mindset, they should have a better record in one-possession games.

Learned from Bill Belichick and Nick Saban

Bill Belichick assistants haven’t fared well when they left to become coaches. Some of their lack of success can be attributed to trying to act like a clone of Belichick.

Judge stated that he will not try to emulate anyone’s personality and will be true to himself. Instead, he will use what he learned from Belichick and Nick Saban.

“What I learned from coach Saban is it’s important to address everybody, not only on the what they have to do, but how it should look, what we’re going to do to get there, and why it’s important,” Judge said. “And what you find out when you’re coaching players. They’re not robots and if they understand what the end result is supposed to look like and why it’s important. Normally, those players are going to take the principles you instilled in them and in the game make a player’s adjustment, and you’re going to learn more from the players than they are as a coach because they’re going to find a better way to do it in the heat of the moment with a certain adjustment.

“What I learned from Coach Belichick was real simple: be flexible within your personnel. Don’t try to shove round pegs into square holes. Figure out what you have. Let them play to their strengths. Don’t sit in a meeting and tell me what you don’t have in a player. Don’t tell me they can’t do certain things, tell me what they can do and then we’ll figure out as coaches, because that’s our job, how we can use that.”

Saban is regarded by many as the best collegiate coach of all-time, and having won six Super Bowls, Belichick is considered by most as the best NFL head coach in NFL history. If their knowledge and effectiveness rubbed off on Judge, the Giants are in good hands. 

He’s a good talent evaluator

Being a special teams assistant at Alabama from 2009-2011, and then a special teams assistant/coordinator with the New England Patriots from 2012-2019, he has a decade worth of experience in coaching numerous position players.

As we all know, both offensive and defensive players play on special teams, so Judge has studied players on both sides of the ball to not only see what kind of player they are, but what type of athlete they are and where they fit best on special teams.

His knowledge as an evaluator will help him and general manager Dave Gettleman form a solid and versatile 53-man roster.

Ownership will be patient with him

Fans may not want to hear this but the reality is turning the Giants into contenders will not be a quick fix. President John Mara stated that they will need to be more patient with Judge since he is a first-time head coach. This probably factored in the decision to give Judge a five-year contract.

The Giants will have an estimate of around $70 million in cap space this offseason to acquire free agents, and with a roster that’s already filled with young and talented players, this will be the building blocks that Judge needs to build a winner.

It will be difficult for the Giants to have a winning season in 2020, but with the backing and support of ownership, Judge can implement a plan to turn the Giants into contenders in a few seasons from now.

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