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What we know, and don’t know, about Joe Judge’s coaching staff

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There is still much to be decided

New York Giants Introduce New Head Coach Joe Judge Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Let’s take a look at where the coaching staff for New York Giants head coach Joe Judge stands less than a week into his tenure with the Giants.

Offense

Coordinator — This is the big question right now. There were initial reports that Judge was going to interview Freddie Kitchens for this role. Kitchens coordinated the Cleveland Browns offense in 2018 before becoming head coach last season. Kitchen and Judge crossed paths at Mississippi State in 2005. There was also a report from ESPN’s Jordan Ranaan that Judge had interviewed Mike Shula, who had the coordinator title without play-calling responsibility for the Giants under Pat Shurmur. Shula has coordinated offenses for three teams and been head coach at Alabama. Whether his offensive ideas mesh with Judge’s is something we will find out. Could Judge and the Giants decide that retaining Shula and providing some continuity would be best for the development of Daniel Jones?

Multiple reporters have pointed out that Jason Garrett’s contract with the Dallas Cowboys expires today. If Garrett wants to coach in 2020, he will have to take an offensive coordinator job. He played for the Giants and the organization has been said to have expressed interest in him in the past. The Giants are leaving the coaching staff decisions up to Judge, but there is a desire for him to add someone with head coaching experience. Co-owner John Mara said last week “that would be great if he could find the right person.”

Other names that have been speculated on include former Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden and Chad O’Shea, who worked with Judge in New England and ran the Miami Dolphins offense last season. John DeFillippo, recently fired as offensive coordinator by the Jacksonville Jaguars, could also be in play.

Quarterbacks — We know that the Giants have hired former Patriots and Dolphins assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schlupinski for this spot. It’s interesting to hire a quarterbacks coach before a coordinator, and also to give this key role to a guy who has never held it before. Still, Schlupinski has endorsements from Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, and familiarity with Judge from New England.

Wide receivers — Tyke Tolbert will continue coaching this group, and his wide receivers will love that. Tolbert’s an energetic, popular coach and the receivers are in good hands with him.

Tight ends — Lunda Wells did a nice job last season getting production from Kaden Smith after the rookie was claimed on waivers. Will Judge retain him? That’s unknown, but it is a move I wouldn’t mind. Wells is an up and coming coach.

Running backs — Another spot where we really don’t know who will get this job. Hey, who wouldn’t want to coach Saquon Barkley?

Offensive line — Bill Callahan? Dave DeGuglielmo? Someone we haven’t thought or heard of? No real clues yet who this could be. It is, though, a critical role as a largely veteran Giants line underperformed in 2019.

Defense

Coordinator — Patrick Graham will get that job, and at least one report indicated he will get the additional title of assistant head coach. What kind of defense will the one-time Giants defensive line coach run? Former Giants Avery Moss and Calvin Munson, who played for Graham in Miami last season, told The Athletic [subscription only] they really don’t know how to describe it.

“Umm, I guess, I would just say, kind of — the closest you could say is 3-4,” said former Giants defensive end Avery Moss, who started eight games in Miami this season. “But it is truly multiple. It will sometimes be a 4-3, then we had a 6-2 front and that was our primary defense for a couple of weeks, then there were a couple of weeks where we only ran three D-tackles and two outside linebackers. It’s really wild. I guess it’s a 3-4 base, but trying to use more and different body types among that front five.”

“Uhh, it was like a — I guess it was like a 3-4,” Munson said. “There were a few adjustments. It was a 3-4 with some moving parts to it.”

Defensive line — Freddie Roach will replace Gary Emanuel in this role. Roach has never coached at the NFL level, but crossed paths with Judge while both were assistants at Alabama. He has been at Ole Miss the past three seasons.

Linebackers — We know Bill McGovern, who has coached the linebackers since 2016, won’t be back. No word at this point on who might replace him.

Defensive backs — Will Judge hire separate coaches for cornerback and safety, or just one overall secondaries coach?

Special teams

Thomas McGaughey will be retained as coordinator of this group. Love this decision by Judge, who has coached special teams himself since 2009. McGaughey is an excellent coach who seems to be well-respected by his players, and special teams have largely been a strength during his two years with the Giants. Why mess with something that is, for the most part, working?