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Judgment Day: Joe Judge fired by Giants after 2 seasons as head coach

Giants will move on after disastrous 4-13 season

Washington Football Team v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Giants have fired head coach Joe Judge after two unsuccessful seasons, the team announced in a statement Tuesday evening

After a 4-13 season that tied a franchise record for losses in a single year, Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch deliberated for a couple of days before making their decision.

“Steve (Tisch) and I both believe it is in the best interest of our franchise to move in another direction,” said team president John Mara in a statement released by the team. “We met with Joe yesterday afternoon to discuss the state of the team. I met again with Joe this afternoon, and it was during that conversation I informed Joe of our decision. We appreciate Joe’s efforts on behalf of the organization.

“I said before the season started that I wanted to feel good about the direction we were headed when we played our last game of the season. Unfortunately, I cannot make that statement, which is why we have made this decision.

“We will hire a general manager and that person will lead the effort to hire a new head coach.”

Judge finishes his two-year tenure with a 10-23 record.

Dave Gettleman also retired this week after four seasons as general manager. The Giants will begin virtual interviews for that job on Wednesday.

This is what Mara and Tisch had said on Monday in announcing Gettleman’s retirement:

“This will be a comprehensive search for our next general manager,” said Mara. “We are looking for a person who demonstrates exceptional leadership and communication abilities, somebody who will oversee all aspects of our football operations, including player personnel, college scouting and coaching.”

Added Tisch, “It is an understatement to say John and I are disappointed by the lack of success we have had on the field. We are united in our commitment to find a general manager who will provide the direction necessary for us to achieve the on-field performance and results we all expect.”

What does all this mean?

This is a stunning week of change for an organization that has long resisted going outside its comfort zone and taking a full accounting of what has gone wrong during a decade that has seen the Giants become one of the league’s most inept teams.

The Giants have had five consecutive seasons of double-digit losses. They are 22-59 (a .272 winning percentage) during that time, tied with the Jets for the worst winning percentage in the NFL over that stretch.

Gettleman was GM during four of those seasons. Judge, surprisingly hired from the New England Patriots at age 38 with no prior head-coaching experience, went 10-23 (a .303 winning percentage) in his two seasons.

Judge is now the third consecutive coach fired by the Giants after just two seasons, following Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur.

Judge’s Giants went 6-10 in his first season, falling just a game short of winning the NFC East in a down year for all of the teams in the division. A 5-3 record over the second half of the year, and what the Giants thought at the time was a solid offseason, led to optimism that 2021 would finally be the season during which the Giants began to emerge from their recent futility.

At the beginning of the season, Judge losing his job at end of it seemed inconceivable.

The Giants, though, started the season 0-3 and 1-5 and were never truly relevant in the race for the playoffs.

Even at midseason it seemed unfathomable that Judge would not get a third season as Giants coach. He seemed to have the support of ownership and the locker room, and there still appeared to be the belief that he was the “right guy” to lead the franchise.

Then, everything fell apart.

The Giants went 1-7 over their final eight games.

After quarterback Daniel Jones suffered what turned out to be a season-ending injury in Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, the product on the field became unwatchable. The Giants lost their last six games by a combined score of 163-56, failing to reach double-digits in four of those games.

The Giants ended up losing nine games by double digits, five by more than 20 points.

Over their final two games, against teams that also had double-digit losses, the Giants lost to the Chicago Bears and Washington Football Team by a combined score of 51-10.

Worse yet, after running back-to-back quarterback sneaks in a tight formation from inside his own 5-yard line, there was a report from Jay Glazer of FOX Sports that the coach was losing support inside the locker room.

It was clear that Judge had lost the support of the fan base. MetLife Stadium was only about one-quarter full for the season finale, some wearing bags over their heads or with their faces made up like clowns in reference to a Judge remark that the Giants “ain’t some clown show organization.”

Judge consistently emphasized process and culture in his remarks, deflecting from the lack of quality play on the field. In recent weeks, he had given unbelievable six- and 11-minute answers to questions about why he felt there was progress being made or that he could get the Giants turned around.

In that second 11-minute answer he had indirectly taken a shot at the Washington Football Team for having a sideline fight, said that players “tapped out” at the end of Shurmur’s tenure and made his infamous “clown show” comment.

The Giants ultimately appear to have decided that the regression to the product on the field and Judge’s embarrassing comments off of it made going forward with him untenable.

NFL: Washington Football Team at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

What now?

The ongoing GM search includes eight potential candidates who have been asked to interview, none of whom have previous ties to the Giants. They now also need a head coach.

Thus, the comprehensive outside look at why the organization has failed to produce a good product that many have been calling for, appears to be well underway.

I recently had the opportunity to ask former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner what it would take for the Giants to get back on the right path.

“Every team has their own version of “The Giant Way”, we had it with the Eagles as well, but the main key is to define that phrase. What is the “Giants Way”? In the past it has been control the LOS and get a difference maker at QB,” Banner said. “But the key is to define success, so you know what to strive for. Take a look at what is separating bad team to good teams and good teams to great teams. Look at the hiring, what are the great teams doing every year to remain great and what do they look for in a leader? Why is one organization winning over another?

“All these questions need to be asked. And the findings of the traits need to be the driving force. Every single decision you make as an organization needs to be driven off those. There will be different answers for all organizations, but do not move the goal posts once you find them. In my experience, you will know right away when you found the right person, you will feel it in the organization in everything that is done.”

The Giants finally appear willing to look beyond their own borders and ask those hard questions.

It’s about time.