Joe Judge’s New York Giants are headed toward another disappointing result in 2021.
At 4-9, the Giants are guaranteed to finish with a losing record. Sunday’s 37-21 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers was New York’s third defeat in its last four games, all of which have come by double-digits. Save for a pair of one-score victories in the last six weeks, the Giants have once again looked like an overmatched team.
Year two of Judge’s tenure hasn’t produced a turnaround most Giants fans would hope to see. But the coach told reporters Monday he’s witnessing an internal change toward brighter days that could end up resulting in a jump in wins in 2022 — if he’s still around to see it through.
“We talk about the intangible things, about how the guys put the team first and treat the people in the building and make sure that they’re doing everything the right way to represent the organization and put the team first,” Judge explained as part of a response that took approximately five minutes. “There are a lot of things internally I see growth in on a daily basis. There are a lot of things that show up in how we practice, a lot of things I see with developing players.
“There are a lot of traits and things that when you look at depth charts that you’re secured with contracts going into the future, and you look and say, ‘Are these pieces we can build with? Are these guys at these positions we think can make an impact?’ When the answer is yes at a key number of spots, then that’s a positive note. You have to get these young players developing, you have to make sure the older players continue to make an impact, you have to make sure you put each of your players in positions to have success, but getting the right kind of guys in the building — that’s physically as players to fit your system, that’s the right kind of character and culture that you have to have going forward — those are key things that you have to do.”
Judge stressed the importance of establishing a proper way of practicing with the goal of preparing effectively to win games, something he admitted has taken longer than he’d expected. The Giants have yet to turn their efforts into more wins than losses, but Judge said after nearly two seasons, his team has learned how to correctly practice thanks to the leadership of veterans on the roster.
With that now set, Judge sees a prosperous future around the corner. The foundation for success has been poured, Judge said, and now it’s about proving it with victories.
The only problem with that is the Giants have yet to win enough games to ensure he’ll be back in 2022. At 4-9, it’s certainly fair to wonder if Judge’s days are numbered. Judge didn’t shy away from this reality, but requested just a little more patience before deciding on his employment.
“Ultimately, I say it all the time, it’s a production business,” Judge said. “We understand that. We understand that, but before you start getting all the results that everyone can see, you’ve got to get all the things behind the scenes right and you’ve got to get it going in the right direction. When you talk about the foundation, it’s the most important part. Unless you have a strong foundation with your locker room, with your culture, with the way you’re developing players, you don’t have any chance to sustain anything on the field — not for any meaningful duration of time.
“I’ve said this from the beginning, I’m not interested in coming and having some kind of quick flash, I’m not interested in shortcuts, I’m not interested in quick fixes. I want to do this the right way and when I took this job, I made it very, very clear that I was only going to do this if we were all committed to doing this the right way and that’s been something that’s been very clear from ownership on down. I’m very happy with the support the ownership gives.”
Those plugged into the league believe Judge will likely get more time to prove his worthiness as the head coach of the Giants, who have learned from attempting to patch a dam with chewing gum in their back-to-back hires of Ben McAdoo, who failed to sustain a legitimate level of success before he was fired midway through his second season in 2017, and Pat Shurmur, who was fired after his second year in 2019.
“Hard to imagine they’re going to go two-and-out again, especially when they preached patience and wanted to do it the right way and support Judge in doing that,” NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said on Monday’s NFL NOW. “You would think that they would give him some more time to implement the plan that they all had.”
The plan has been implemented, at least internally, according to Judge. If that’s true, it would seem foolish to pull the plug on Judge’s tenure when he’s claiming his team is just about to turn the corner.
“The belief in league circles as they move forward here is that Judge could be given extra time here, another year or two or whatever it ends up being, to try to run his program the way that he wants with his offensive coordinator and his general manager,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said on Monday’s NFL NOW.
Such a turnaround won’t be evident this season, unless the Giants were to string together a handful of wins to finish the campaign on a strong note. They’ll have to find a way to defeat the division-leading Cowboys, as well as Chicago and NFC East rivals Philadelphia and Washington if they hope to start producing tangible success. But even close, competitive losses might be enough to prove to Giants ownership that Judge’s work is starting to take effect.
Ugly losses could sway things against Judge by the time January arrives. But as Judge said and both Rapoport and Pelissero acknowledged, making a change might be premature. If Judge is around in 2022, the benefit of the doubt will no longer exist. Right now, though, it’s simply about making it to 2022.
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