The New York Giants deliberated a wealth of candidates for their head coach vacancy, as exhibited in the PFN Head Coach and Coordinator Tracker. The Giants found their man and made it official this past Thursday, naming 38-year-old Joe Judge as the franchise’s 19th head coach in its history. Judge replaces Pat Shurmur, who was dismissed on December 30th following a 4-12 season and a 9-23 two-year stint. Who is Joe Judge? Who will he bring abroad as his assistants? Most importantly, what fantasy impact will Joe Judge have on the New York Giants?
Find out the answers to those questions and a whole lot more as I tackle the hiring of Joe Judge as the next head coach of the Giants.
Joe Judge is a Special Man
Joe Judge played at Mississipi State in the early 2000s under Jackie Sherrill and then became an assistant there under Sylvester Croom. However, his big opportunity arrived when he became an assistant to Nick Saban at Alabama in 2009. He worked under Saban for three seasons as the Crimson Tide’s special teams assistant. Judge was on the staff for two of Alabama’s national championships during that timeframe.
That experience led to his hiring as the special teams assistant under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots. After three seasons there, he was promoted to special teams coordinator. Over the last five years, Patriots’ special teams ranked 11th, 16th, 3rd, 8th, and 5th, respectively, in DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.
In his eight years with the Patriots, New England earned a playoff berth every season and played in four Super Bowls, winning three. The former Bulldog added wide receivers coach to his responsibilities in 2019, which is an arrangement that’s just about unheard of in the NFL.
“Joe has done an outstanding job,” Belichick said via the Giants web site. “He’s an excellent coach. He understands the game well, works extremely hard and is a very good teacher of fundamentals. Joe picks up concepts and coaching points quickly. He is an exceptional leader and one of the best coaches I have been around.
“He has been responsible for coaching units comprised of nearly every player on the roster. That requires an ability to handle many moving parts, make constant adjustments and immediate decisions. I appreciate Joe’s many contributions to our staff and team and wish him well.”
The Giants needed a new voice
The ringing endorsement from the greatest head coach in NFL history notwithstanding, the Giants were in a downward spiral. They are now an NFL-worst 12-36 over the past three seasons. In addition to firing Pat Shurmur, general manager Dave Gettleman is certainly on the hot seat.
The fan base wanted the team to get back to the glory Super Bowl years. They wanted Mike McCarthy, but he signed with the rival Dallas Cowboys a day after the firing of Jason Garrett. When that dream vanished, the Giants fans turned to Matt Rhule, who had ties to the Giants. Rhule spurned the Giants and went where the money was with the Carolina Panthers.
The Giants feel that they got the coach they need and want in Joe Judge. Knowing what it takes to win a championship goes a long way, and Giants co-owner John Mara pointed that out.
“He knows what winning looks like and should look like,” Mara said. “His exposure and experience in New England and Alabama have helped shape his philosophy of building a winning program and culture.”
Joe Judge has zero head coaching experience, but that didn’t stop teams from giving him his first shot to take the helm. Judge also had an offer to be the head coach at his alma mater at Mississippi State, but he delayed the decision long enough for the Giants to offer him the job.
It is sporadic that special teams coaches receive serious consideration for NFL head coaching jobs. One NFL team took a chance and are reaping the benefits. John Harbaugh was a special teams coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles before being hired by the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. The Ravens are glad they took the chance. With one Super Bowl win and multiple playoff appearances, Harbaugh has proven to be special.
What is the fantasy impact of the hiring of Joe Judge?
The New York Giants have a great nucleus of young studs to build the offense around. Quarterback Daniel Jones proved not to be a bust, which puts a massive smile on Dave Gettleman’s face. Jones looks to be the future under center, throwing for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns in 13 games.
Saquon Barkley is a stud running back that any smart coach would build his team around. Barkley dealt with injuries throughout the 2019 season, but still managed to rush for over 1,000 yards and score eight total touchdowns.
Barkley had a sensational rookie season and will look to rebound loudly in the 2020 season. During his seasons in New England, Judge was widely exposed to the utilization of the running backs in the passing game. Look for Judge to help Barkley sharpen his receiving skills and become an even more lethal offensive weapon.
Judge has decided to hold onto current Giants receiver coach Tyke Tolbert. Tolbert was instrumental in the development of rookie wideout Darius Slayton into a fantasy weapon, scoring eight touchdowns, which led all rookie receivers and finishing 12th in yards per catch (15.4) in the league.
The Giants possess an optimistic fantasy group of wide receivers. Sterling Shepard (concussion) and Golden Tate (suspension) missed portions of the season but were still fantasy factors and will look to build upon that in 2020.
Speaking of missing games, Evan Engram has plenty of talent but can’t stay on the field. He only played in eight games in 2019 while rookie Kaden Smith filled in quite nicely. Provided that he can stay healthy, Engram should have a meaningful role next season.
The best path for the Giants is to obtain an offensive coordinator with head coaching experience, which will be beneficial for the first-time head coach Joe Judge. Whether it is Jason Garrett or Freddie Kitchens, any coach with experience can ease the pain and the transition to the head coaching position. Judge is a winner and knows what it takes to be a winner. He will need to take everything he has learned from Bill Belichick and Nick Saban to get the Giants back to the playoffs and beyond.
“What I learned from Coach Belichick was real simple – be flexible within your personnel…figure out what you have, let them play to their strengths”
The Giants will have a projected $69.5 million in cap space to work with this offseason with multiple needs to fulfill. They can be aggressive this offseason, filling holes on the offensive line and the defense.