On January 8th, 2020 the New York Football Giants hired Joe Judge as their new head coach. It came as a surprise to many around the league as Judge is known for being a special teams coordinator. Giants general manager, Dave Gettleman, is taking a big risk by hiring someone who has no background as a head coach. Not only is the New York media vicious and ready to attack, but Gettleman is on the hot seat as the Giants have not made the playoffs since 2016.
The hiring of Judge tells me that he interviewed well and that the Giants believe in the program that he will instill in this team.
When Judge had his introductory press conference as head coach, he made a solid first impression on the New York media. He showed he was strong and disciplined. He made it clear that he is here to win games and will not accept anything else. “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 added as he addressed the media for the first time as New York Giants head coach.
While nearly every coach says it, not all coaches truly believe it. Coach Judge spoke with passion and conviction; he won over his players that day. Coach Judge has put his money where his mouth is as he has had both players and coaches run laps at practice for making mistakes. Coach Judge wants to send a message to his team that mistakes have consequences and actions will be taken for those mistakes that are made. Football is a game of inches and a slight mishap can make all the difference in the world.
Coach Judge was an assistant at Alabama under Nick Saban and worked under Bill Belichick with the Patriots for nearly a decade. Those two coaches are arguably the best to ever do it in their respective sports. Keep in mind that Saban worked under Belichick in Cleveland. Saban developed his philosophy based on what he learned under Belichick. The same can be expected for Judge.
One of the most important elements of coaching is having a message that your players and other coaches will buy into. For the Patriots, it’s “do your job.” It works well as each player believes if they just simply do their part, collectively they will reach their ultimate objective of winning that ball game. If one person messes up or tries to do too much, it ruins the game. The Patriots have bought into that system of precision and discipline and that has led them to being one of the most dominant franchises to ever play in the national football league.
Coach Judge needs to take what he has learned and used that to his advantage. But, he must do so in a way where he is being authentic. As Giants legendary coach Bill Parcells, put it: “be yourself.”
The first year of coaching is very difficult, especially in New York. One mistake and they want you fired. The unique ability of handling the media and disciplining your team in a way where they learn to respect you is a very difficult task for a first-year head coach in the NFL. If the players sense that Judge is not authentic, they will not buy-in. But, as far as the eye can see, the Giants’ practices have been as intense as ever and Coach Judge treats every player the same.
For a team coming off an 4-12 season, there is a lot on the line as this franchise is looking to take the next steps into becoming a contending team. The building blocks are there in Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Andrew Thomas, Jabrill Peppers, Dalvin Tomlinson, and many other young players. What remains to be seen is if a true leader can bring them to the promise land. That is the task that Judge is presented with and so far, he’s heading in the right direction.
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