The New York Giants have opted out of the 2023 NFL Playoffs

By Christian D'Andrea

The New York Giants didn’t want to develop the reputation of a franchise that’s a revolving door for head coaches, so they decided to keep Joe Judge for a third season. In the process, they bolstered their reputation for employing doofuses.

Judge was a questionable hire with a limited background when he took the reins in 2020. In the two seasons since he’s 10-23. His teams have ranked 31st in a 32-team league in both yards gained and points scored each of those years. His defenses have looked respectable only through the fractured lens of the 2020 NFC East. His special teams units, Judge’s area of expertise, have failed to rank in the top 10 in DVOA in either of his two years at the helm.

He is, wildly and unavoidably, bad at this. And he’s the Giants’ head coach for what looks like one more season.

Judge, despite a six-game losing streak to end the season and an offense that scored 9.9 points per game following its Week 10 bye, will get one more chance to prove he isn’t just three raccoons stacked in a sweatsuit on the sideline. This is, by most accounts, a terrible decision.

New York could have dipped into a solid class of available coaching candidates to lead its latest attempt at a rebuild. The Giants could have hired former Super Bowl winner Doug Pederson as a direct shot across the bow of the division rival Eagles. Or they could have leaned on a longstanding tradition of beating the Patriots by hiring a guy who has done it three times in the past 13 months and hired the newly-deposed Brian Flores. They could have opted for a rising assistant coach with a resume beyond “special teams coordinator” and interviewed guys like Brian Daboll or Eric Bieniemy or Byron Leftwich, all of whom could have helped the team figure out if there’s any juice left to be squeezed from Daniel Jones.

But no. Instead New York opted to make a decision rivaled only in sheer stupidity by the Jaguars hiring Urban Meyer and then taking 10 months to fire him. They gave Joe Judge a Year Three.

The Giants are betting Judge can turn things around with a general manager capable of operating at a higher plane than newly-retired, formerly-disastrous Dave Gettleman. It won’t be hard to find someone better:

But Judge’s presence immediately hamstrings that search. It was bad enough the Giants were headed into the 2022 offseason with a massive question mark at quarterback, a woeful offense around him, and one of the league’s worst salary cap situations. Now this new general manager will have to convince veterans to play for the kind of guy who galaxy-brained himself into a third-and-9 quarterback sneak from his own four-yard line.

Judge is the same guy who reportedly lost the support of his locker room as his team imploded upon itself like a matchstick skyscraper. A coach who has only been compelled to make two challenges in his two seasons on the sideline and lost them both. A man whose special teams background forces him to preach from the bible of field position even though both his offense and defense are incapable of doing anything with it. A coach with so little control over his team that his players sparked a brawl on the very first day of in-pads practice last summer.

Fortunately, there’s a very real and very legitimate line of players champing at the opportunity to play for Judge in 2022, even if it means taking a pay cut. Or, at least, that was the scenario eight days earlier when Judge went on an 11-minute postgame rant describing all the players who’ve called him up to tell him how much they miss playing for him and how badly they want to play for Joe Judge again:

You know, standard successful head coach stuff.

Letting Gettleman retire before he could be fired but keeping Judge is a statement about New York’s willingness to enact meaningful change; there is none. The Giants just struggled through the kind of season that got Ben McAdoo fired, then looked at what happened after they fired McAdoo, shrugged, and kicked the can to 2023 instead.

Perhaps this is a covert tanking operation to provide an exit strategy for Jones in 2023, when he’s scheduled to be a free agent. Maybe New York daydreamed through Judge’s “Dad, you have no idea what I’m capable of” speech with visions of selecting Bryce Young first overall in 16 months. Maybe, hidden under layers of awful decisions, there’s a logic to all this.

But the more likely answer is a franchise that’s spun its wheels since Eli Manning lost his postseason magic is simply making the latest bad decision in a long string of them. Judge has done nothing to suggest he can be a successful NFL head coach. The Giants are rolling with him anyway, because if you’re going to hit rock bottom it helps to have a reliable drill bit.


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