The Joe Judge Watch continued on Tuesday – and it may continue a lot longer than that.
The fate of the Giants’ head coach may not be decided until next week, or even later, according to multiple sources, depending on how long the search for a new general manager takes.
For now, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch are intent on getting input on Judge from whoever their new GM turns out to be, as well as from all the other candidates for the job, before they make any final decision on the coach.
But the owners will be the ones who make that decision, the sources said. Judge’s fate will not be the GM’s call. And if the new GM doesn’t want Judge to remain the coach, he will have to convince Mara and Tisch he has a better option and plan.
Of course, that could change at any moment since they are the owners and can hire and fire anyone they want. There are some in the Giants’ organization who believe they are leaning towards keeping Judge and hoping to find a general manager willing to work with their 40-year-old head coach.
It’s probably a good sign, at least, for Judge that he wasn’t fired outright on Monday, one day after he finished a miserable, 4-13 season that left him with a 10-23 record. He had a lengthy meeting with Mara and Tisch that afternoon, according to a source, in which he basically was asked to sell them on his plan for fixing the Giants’ mess.
The details of the meeting aren’t known, but one source said a big and obvious focus was expected to be on the team’s shockingly anemic offense. The owners were expected to push for a major shakeup of Judge’s offensive staff, including a new offensive coordinator from the outside, and possibly make it a condition if they decide to let Judge stay.
One source also said that Judge’s public image and press conferences were expected to be a topic, since his long, rambling answers have turned into a league-wide joke and his focus on the positives after bad losses have infuriated the fan base. Though the details are different, it sounds similar to the discussion they had with Tom Coughlin after the 2006 season about improving his image and softening his demeanor before they agreed to bring him back for the next year.
Judge is expected to meet again with ownership either later on Tuesday or Wednesday. And there may be more meetings, including after a new GM is in place, especially if he has other ideas on changes Judge would need to make.
As for the new GM, it is possible Judge will be a part of the hiring process, a source said, though he certainly won’t have a voice in the decision on who is eventually hired. Unless they decide to fire Judge ahead of time, the Giants owners will be trying to gauge if any of them can work well with Judge and whether the new GM and the current coach are on the same philosophical page.
That doesn’t mean they’ll hire someone who is in sync with Judge. It’ll just be part of the process. And if they settle on someone they don’t think will work with the coach, then Judge will be gone.
Judge, according to a source, tried to push the co-owners a few weeks ago to promote assistant GM Kevin Abrams into Dave Gettleman’s old job, since they had developed a good working relationship and since he believed Abrams would not make a coaching change. That was always going to be a tough sell to ownership, since as VP of football operations Abrams had a hand in the 19-46 record under Gettleman. Not surprisingly, a source confirmed that Abrams will not even be interviewed for the job.
Among the outside candidates, Judge does have strong ties to Tennessee Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort, whose time as the New England Patriots scouting director overlapped with Judge’s days as a special teams coach there. Judge has no known or obvious ties to any of the other candidates on the list.
The Giants’ interviews with the GM candidates will begin this week. The first round of interviews will be virtual, and they will likely bring multiple finalists in for in-person interviews next week. It’s possible a new GM could be in place by the end of next week, at which point Judge’s fate might become clear.
If that new GM convinces the owners to move on, though, the Giants would be behind as they start their search for a replacement. Five other teams are already searching for a new head coach. Two of them – the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings – also fired their GM. But the coaching searches for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, and Miami Dolphins are already underway.