Joe Judge, much to the surprise of nearly everyone, now has the job as head coach of the New York Giants. So, what will he do with it?
Here are three things the 38-year-old first-time head coach to do if he is going to have chance to succeed where Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur so spectacularly failed.
Hire the right staff
This is crucial, for many reasons.
Judge may have been tutored by two of the best to ever do it in Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, but until you have sat in the big chair yourself and had to handle all of the things a head coach has to do there is no way to prepare for or adequately understand everything the job entails.
Judge is going to be a CEO-type coach. He is going to need quality offensive and defensive coordinators he trusts to run those groups. It wouldn’t hurt if one or both of those coordinators, or at least someone on staff that Judge knows and trusts, has been a head coach before and can help him navigate the minefield of thing he has never dealt with before.
A good special teams coach will be crucial, too. After working with special teams since 2009, you don’t want Judge finding excuses to go tinker with special teams when he should be doing other things.
Ben McAdoo might have had a really good coaching staff. McAdoo, though, gained a reputation for not really trusting his staff or embracing their ideas. Seemingly, he thought he had the answers. He did not.
Shurmur was a hard worker who was respected by players. The results on the field, though, oten seemed to indicate that there were holes in his coaching staff. Poor play from a veteran offensive line, the lack of a truly identifiable philosophy of offense and lack of progress on defense — especially in the secondary — could all have been at least partially due to issues with the coaching staff.
It is going to be very interesting to see what kind of coaching staff Judge can pull together. NFL coaches don’t recruit players, aside perhaps from a few free agents. They do, though, recruit coaches. Let’s see who wants to jump on the Judge train in New Jersey.\
Get buy-in from Daniel Jones ... and Saquon Barkley
Jones and Barkley, the two players taken by the Giants at the top of the last two drafts, are the franchise’s most important players.
John Mara said when he undertook the search for this head coach that someone who could develop Jones, the player entrusted with being the franchise quarterback, was paramount. Jones seemed despondent when Shurmur was fired.
If Jones is going to become the kind of quarterback his rookie season hinted he could be, and Judge is going to succeed as head coach, those two will have to bond. Not as buddies, of course, but they will have to get on the same page in terms of offensive philosophy.
Barkley, too. He is the best and most dynamic player on the roster. He has quickly become a locker room leader. If he and Jones are on board with Judge that will go a long way.
Be himself, not a mini-Belichick
The Bill Belichick coaching tree is a decidedly mixed bag when it comes to how his former assistants have done as head coaches.
Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels and at this point in time Matt Patricia are among those who have not been successful. Bill O’Brien, Nick Saban and perhaps Brian Flores are coming up on the positive side of the ledger.
Which side will Judge land on?
Right now, nobody knows.
Judge, though, isn’t going to succeed by trying to copy Belichick. Learn from him, sure, and hopefully bring and instill some of the core Belichick beliefs, but he can’t copy Belichick’s methods or his personality.
He can’t be another Belichick. He has to be Joe Judge.
“He’s very intense. Joe is really passionate about what he does,” Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater said in a 2017 story by ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “He has a hyperattention to detail; there is no stone unturned by the time we get to the game, and we feel super prepared and know he’s going to put us in position to make plays. As a player, that’s all you can ask for. And you have to appreciate the energy and passion with which he coaches. I think it really carries over to us as players. We love going out there and playing for him, and for each other.”
He has to lead. He has to challenge players who have lost too much to not accept failure. He has to energize an organization and a fan base.
He to do them while not trying to be the second Belichick.