Tuesday began as ‘Matt Rhule Day’ for the New York Giants and a fanbase hoping for something to be excited about.
Before lunch could even arrive, shoot, before you could even down an extra cup of morning coffee, everything had gone up in flames.
There were cries of ‘Disaster.’ The Internet was calling the Giants an ‘Embarrassment’ or a ‘Joke.’ Giants co-owner John Mara was, at least on Twitter, back to throwing chairs.
All because Matt Rhule was going to be an NFL coach. Not, though, of the Giants — the team said to be his dream job. Rhule was going to be head coach of the Carolina Panthers, where new owner David Tepper apparently promised him he would step into a world driven by analytics and sports science.
With those promises in hand, Rhule never got on a plane for his scheduled Tuesday interview in New Jersey.
Still before lunch, we got word that order had been restored to the Giants’ universe. A new judge was coming to town. The Giants were stunningly/surprisingly/shockingly hiring Joe Judge to be their head coach.
Yeah, THAT Joe Judge! You know the guy. The 38-year-old New England Patriots special teams coordinator who has never been a head coach but whose bosses since 2009 have been named either Nick Saban or Bill Belichick,
There were even reports that the Giants, thought to be all goo-goo eyes for Rhule, the New York City native and now-former Baylor coach, had been negotiating with Judge since Monday — before even interviewing the guy said to be the favorite for the gig. And that Rhule offered them an opportunity to match/exceed the offer he got from Carolina, and they declined.
What a day!
Or part of a day. And now that I’ve had lunch and can think sorta straight, at least straighter than I will before heading out shortly to get a tooth pulled (heckuva day to have that scheduled, eh?) here are a couple of thoughts on what just happened.
Maybe, just maybe this will all work out for the best.
One word of caution in coaching search world: Two of the biggest misses in recent memory are when the #AZCardinals never got the chance to interview Mike McCoy and the #Colts were jilted by Josh McDaniels. Both were crushed. But Bruce Arians and Frank Reich ended up just fine. ♂️— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 7, 2020
I had been told weeks ago to anticipate the Giants going young for a head coach if they replaced Pat Shurmur. Rhule’s 44 and has never been an NFL head coach. That’s young, right? Well, it is when your next birthday, like mine, will start with a 6 in the front.
Still, this young?
The Giants have swung for the fences here. In a division where the other three coaches have either won or appeared in Super Bowls, the Giants are entrusting the futures of Daniel Jones and their franchise to a 38-year-old special teams coach.
No risk there, right?
I know Giants’ fans are freaking out, with the results of our poll on the hiring of Judge showing decidedly mixed results.
Judge is unfamiliar. He’s unknown. Most of you probably hadn’t heard of him until he showed up on the Giants’ list of candidates. Admittedly, I had not.
Still, I kinda love this.
The Giants have been mostly down and out since winning the 2011 Super Bowl. They’ve been bad. They’ve been boring. They’ve been unimaginative.
Hiring Judge is undoubtedly an outside-the-box move atypical of the Giants. It’s a swing for the fences. It’s the Giants taking their mightiest swing at finding the next Sean McVay. At finding Brian Flores. Or Mike Vrabel. At finding the next John Harbaugh, a coach who rose to success from the special teams ranks.
The Giants wanted leadership above Xs and Os from their next head coach. They wanted someone who could lift a team, organization and fan base that has been down for too long. They wanted someone who would coach their team, not have his face buried in a play sheet while things that should have had his attention swirled unnoticed around him.
As Mark Schofield indicated, the success or failure of this move might hinge on the quality of the coaching staff Judge is able to assemble. Experienced coordinators, including at least one with head-coaching experience, could prove invaluable. Let’s see if this Judge, like the one in Yankee Stadium, proves to be a draw.
This might fail spectacularly. It might succeed spectacularly.
It sure as heck is anything but boring.
I will applaud for the sheer boldness of the move.