Joe Judge is out.
Fired as the Giants’ head coach on Monday after two seasons of painful losing, two seasons of overseeing a staff that operated a mistake-prone, regressive offense. Two seasons of Knute Rockne rah-rah diatribes that wore thin with a rightfully unmoved and fed-up fan base.
The 40-year-old Philadelphia native and former New England Patriots special teams coordinator came into the job with energy, promise and a seemingly clear vision with a decade of apprenticeship working under Bill Belichick, the most accomplished professional football coach in history, and Nick Saban, widely considered the best college football coach of all time.
Yet Judge fell short of both winning enough games and displaying the mandatory leadership skills that are imperative to galvanizing elite athletes. He was 10-23, including 4-13 this season, and gave the appearance of someone who was overwhelmed in the final weeks of this campaign. After Judge went on an emotionally charged rant on Jan. 2 following a dismal 29-3 Giants loss to the Chicago Bears on the road, his status to return became dubious.
“[Co-owner] Steve [Tisch] and I both believe it is in the best interest of our franchise to move in another direction,” said Giants team president and co-owner John Mara on Tuesday. “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,” expanded Mara. “Unfortunately, I cannot make that statement, which is why we have made this decision.”
Judge was the third straight Giants coach to be terminated after only two seasons. He was preceded by Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur. On Monday, senior vice president and general manager Dave Gettleman resigned. So Mara and Tisch are now on the hunt for a GM, who will ostensibly make the next head coach hire.
“It is an understatement to say John and I are disappointed by the lack of success we have had on the field,” said Tisch regarding Gettleman’s departure, who began his tenure as the Giants’ GM in late December of 2017. “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.”
Whoever gets the position, they would be wise to interview Brian Flores and then make him an offer. Flores, 40, was born and reared in Brooklyn. He is of Hondurian descent and would be the first Black Giants head coach of the 21 who have been full-time or interim. Flores was let go by the Miami Dolphins on Monday for philosophical differences with owner Stephen Ross and general manager Chris Grier. He left with a 24-25 record in three seasons but he’s been lauded by many close observers of the NFL for turning around a moribund program.
Flores, who was on the Patriots staff with Judge as a defensive assistant, went 4-2 against Belichick in his three seasons leading the Dolphins. In his first year the Dolphins were 5-11. The next season the Brooklyn Poly Prep and Boston College alumnus guided Miami to a 10-6 mark. They began this season 1-7 but won eight of their last nine games.
With the Dolphins, Flores was demonstrably what Judge was supposed to be with the Giants. Now Mara and Tisch have another auspicious opportunity to get it right.