Graham will replace James Bettcher, who ran the defense under head coach Pat Shurmur the past two seasons.
This is an interesting move for the 40-year-old Graham. He filled the same role for the Miami Dolphins last season under first-year coach Brian Flores who, like Judge, came from the New England Patriots under Bill Belichick.
The Dolphins didn’t have to let Graham interview with the Giants as this appears to be a lateral move for Graham. Flores, though, did not stand in the way. The rebuilding Dolphins were last in the NFL in points allowed in 2019 and 30th in yards allowed.
Here is what Kevin Nogle of SB Nation’s Dolphins website, The Phinsider, said about Graham. I requested this information from Nogle before the hiring was reported.
How much of a blow to the Dolphins would it be if Graham bolted for the Giants?
“I think it would be a blow from the sense of it being consistency in the defense. Miami is already changing offensive coordinators after just one year under Brian Flores. Changing on defense, and changing from a coach who seems to mesh well with Flores, would appear to be an added stress to a team that already has a lot to do this offseason. Of course, the fact that Miami does not seem to mind Graham being interviewed for a lateral move, does make it seem like they would be okay with that change. I would assume a move that the Giants would include an “assistant head coach” title or something like that so it would appear to be a promotion, but it just sees odd.”
He is, obviously, a Belichick disciple. What kind of defense does he run?
“It is hard to say for sure, because Brian Flores is a defensive coach, so I am not sure how much of the scheme is purely Flores as compared to Graham. Though, Graham did call the plays and Flores seemed to allow his assistants to do their jobs, especially when you look at how former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase ignited the defense so he could be the offensive play caller and the offensive coordinator was basically a figurehead. Assuming Grahan and Flores would run a similar system, expect a hybrid 4-3/3-4 with players who can be used in multiple roles. That is part of why Minkah Fitzpatrick wanted out of Miami - he wanted to settle into one position, while the coaching staff wanted him able to play boundary corner, nickel, free safety, strong safety, and even linebacker. The idea is to have players that can create mismatches and force quarterbacks to have to think. There will be some exotic blitzes, but they really want three or four guys to create pressure so they can use the linebackers to stop the run and the secondary to cover.”
Graham was defensive line coach for the Giants in 2016 and 2017, during Ben McAdoo’s tenure as head coach.
Graham and Judge are familiar with each other from their time together in New England. Graham joined Belichick’s staff in 2009, serving alternately as linebackers or defensive line coach over his final five seasons with the Patriots. Judge joined the New England staff in 2012 and was there until the Giants hired him a few days ago.