Joe Judge sounded like an outsider during his infamous rant in Chicago, which was the most telling takeaway of all.
When Judge flew off the handle on Jan. 2, blasting the effort and culture of predecessor Pat Shurmur’s Giants team, Judge sounded like someone from outside of the Giants’ family who is accustomed to better and disgusted by what he inherited when he arrived.
“The toughest thing to change in a club is the way people think,” Judge said that day.
This is why Tuesday evening’s firing of Judge was inevitable, because the Giants are a rudderless franchise that doesn’t know up from down. And while everyone in the league already knew that, they certainly don’t want to be told that by their own coach.
It’s hard to believe John Mara and Steve Tisch really intend to hire an outside GM and give him autonomy to run a fully aligned franchise, though, because they’ll never take their thumbs off of the scale.
They don’t understand what it takes to build a winner. They aren’t accountable for pulling the plug on a long-term rebuild after Judge’s first year, instead blaming their failure on a first-time head coach hired at age 38 who nearly made the playoffs in a 2020 pandemic.
The cloak-and-dagger manner in which the Giants dragged out Judge’s firing was shady.
The fact the team honored 19-46 GM Dave Gettleman with on-field photos and protected him with a sneaky “retirement” press release – only to then blow Judge out the door – is indicative of who the Giants are.
They are an arrogant franchise with friends in high places that always manages to convince fans to trust the team shield over their own eyes.
Judge leaves with a 10-23 record in two seasons, the third straight coach the Giants have fired either during or after their second season with the team.
There’s a reason they’ve fired three coaches in just over five calendar years. It’s because the coaches aren’t the reason their roster stinks and they constantly lose.
The Giants’ 22-59 record the past five years is tied for the worst in the league with the Jets, and it’s an insult now to include the Jets in the same sentence.
Judge undeniably dug his own grave at the end, primarily with his wild press conference after the Bears loss. His program wasn’t perfect.
But here is what happened: the Giants’ undying loyalty to Eli Manning in 2017 led them to hire a GM in Gettleman who would try to win one more time with the QB.
Their undying loyalty to Gettleman as Manning and the roster deteriorated dug them into the NFL’s basement, costing Shurmur his job.
And then saddling Judge with Gettleman’s mismanagement cost a second coach his job before the GM was finally shoved out the door.
Judge inherited a bad GM, a bad roster, and hired an offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett that everyone knew was really ownership’s choice.
The offense went deeper in the tank after Garrett’s midseason firing, but the primary reason was Daniel Jones’ neck injury and an offensive line with one good player on the starting five.
Judge’s Chicago rant made everything worse for him because it shined the national spotlight on the Giants’ dysfunction as brightly as ever before. The defense was playing well and hard for him, which couldn’t be said for the previous two head coaches at the end.
But the Giants’ decision to field Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm as their backup QBs left them looking like a high school offense. So when a fed-up Judge ran two QB sneaks to avoid a safety against Washington, the pitchforks were out and the Giants had nowhere to hide.
The real shame of Judge’s firing is that he was going to be the head coach at Mississippi State until Mara and the Giants saw something more in him in January 2020.
Mara saw a Patriot with a vision for a new Giant Way and hired Judge, well aware it wasn’t reasonable to expect a quick fix. Judge and the Giants agreed this would be a long-term rebuild, a process that would take time and some painful change.
Judge made progress trying to fix this franchise behind the scenes, including in their asset management. His influence was most obvious in last spring’s draft day trade back, which yielded the Giants a second top-7 pick in this April’s NFL Draft.
What, you thought Gettleman, who wouldn’t take a phone call before drafting a running back No. 2 overall in 2018, suddenly understood the value of acquiring draft capital?
Coming out of the 2020 season, however, the impatient Giants decided it was time to abandon the long-term plan and go for it. They overspent on Leonard Williams, Kenny Golladay, Adoree Jackson and Kyle Rudolph. They decided they could win the NFC East.
They thought – Mara and Tisch thought – they were a better team than they actually were.
The Giants’ inability to self-assess is their greatest flaw. It’s why they never get meaningfully better. They never understand how far behind they are in the first place.
The only glimmer of hope for the future is that their nine GM candidates now are all outsiders, and that Mara is promising autonomy to his next GM to run the entire football operation, including the coaching staff.
Still, Mara’s cold, prepared statement on Judge’s dragged-out firing was a reminder that Giants ownership answers to no one.
“Steve [Tisch] and I both believe it is in the best interest of our franchise to move in another direction,” Mara’s statement read. “We met with Joe [Monday] afternoon to discuss the state of the team. I met again with Joe this afternoon, and it was during that conversation I informed Joe of our decision. We appreciate Joe’s efforts on behalf of the organization.
“I said before the season started that I wanted to feel good about the direction we were headed when we played our last game of the season,” Mara added. “Unfortunately, I cannot make that statement, which is why we have made this decision.”
These were the words of Mara, the same man who gushed at Judge’s hiring press conference about his “poise, his confidence, his leadership, his knowledge of the game [and] what it takes to build a winning program, his ability to relate to players, and then of course, his work ethic.”
This is the reason that Tuesday will not live as an ultimate indictment of Judge. It will be remembered as an indictment of the judgment of Mara and Tisch, who have forfeited all benefit of the doubt until they get this right.
The toughest thing to change in an NFL club, as Judge said himself, is the way people think.
Source: Berkshire mont