Redskins: Grading Ron Rivera’s hire along with other NFC East hires
By Ian Cummings
Reports suggested that the New York Giants were zeroing in on either Matt Rhule or Eric Bieniemy as their head coach. But then Rhule signed with the Panthers when they went after him in Texas, forcing the Giants to pivot. Many thought that Bieniemy would be the favorite at that point, but the Giants already had a deal near set behind the scenes, with Patriots special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Joe Judge.
Judge was a name occasionally mentioned on the coaching circuit, but no one expected 2020 to be the year he’d get his chance. The Giants were apparently blown away by his internal interview, and in his press conference, Judge showed an enthusiasm and a zeal that showed why.
Interestingly enough, Judge is the only one of the three new NFC East coaches who is not a returning head coach. Instead, he’s spent the last eight seasons as a special teams coach for the New England Patriots, serving as the special teams coordinator for the last six years. Special teams coordinators don’t normally get head coaching opportunities, but John Harbaugh is one who’s provided a gold standard for the group.
It’s near impossible to judge (see what I did there?) how coaches will perform this early, but in his press conference, Judge said all the right things, and it felt like he truly meant it. Here’s what he said when asked about one thing he’d learned from Belichick.
Judge is very impressive behind a microphone, and he has the background to back up his philosophies. The big questions about Judge are these: How will he respond to the heightened workload as head coach, and how much influence will Dave Gettleman have on him? Judge’s wide receiving core in New England didn’t impress in 2019, and Gettleman has outdated philosophies as a general manager that could impede growth.
Those questions remained to be answered, but one thing is clear: It would have been in the Giants’ best interest, on the surface, to go with a Bieniemy-type coach, to help coach up Daniel Jones, who is obviously the Giants most important asset after his promising rookie season. Judge isn’t that, but perhaps he can compensate for his lack of offensive specialty with his overall leadership ability and common sense. We’ll have to see what happens; the Patriots pipeline hasn’t been consistently successful for teams across the league, but Judge has the personality to win.