The last time I felt good about the Giants prior to Joe Judge’s introductory press conference on Thursday was three years ago. In those three years, the Giants have gone 12-36, unceremoniously benched Eli Manning for Geno Smith, fired one general manager and two head coaches, traded the most explosive wide receiver in the league, ridded themselves of every former high pick and free-agent signing, wasted draft picks on unnecessary trades and allowed the general manager responsible for nearly all of this mess to keep his job. These last three years are why I had no confidence in ownership to hire the right head coach after they gave us Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur in back-to-back selections.
Maybe they screwed up once again in hiring Judge and maybe the team will be just as bad as it was under the last two idiots though I’m not sure being as bad is even a possibility. We won’t know until at least September when the Giants take the field for a regular-season game, but for now, I’m on board with the Judge hire. How could any Giants fan not be after hearing from him on Thursday?
Judge looked professional (something McAdoo didn’t) and sounded professional (something Shurmur didn’t). He spoke the way you want a football coach to speak and made it clear the Giants aren’t going to be a three-ring circus under him the way they were under his two predecessors. Based on the way he commanded the room and controlled his opening words as Giants head coach, I would put it at 3-to-1 that he fights a player during his Giants tenure, and my money would be on him.
Judge described himself as an no-nonsense football mind from my father’s and maybe even my grandfather’s generation. He spoke at length about how he expects his team to play and prepare and spoke to the media in a tone as if he were trying to fire up the beat writers to take the field.
There were two statements Judge made which immediately made me accept him as Giants head coach and I’m sure got him off on the right foot with every Giants fan.
“What I’m about is an old-school physical mentality. We’re going to put a product on the field that the people of this city and region are going to be proud of because this team will represent this area.”
After winning 42 of their last 112 regular-season games, there has been nothing to be proud of when it comes to the Giants. They have become the Browns of the NFC and are very close to becoming the Browns overall. I have felt embarrassed seeing fellow fans wear Giants apparel in public and have wondered how anyone could pay, attend and sit through a home game these last few years.
Putting a product on the field that the Tri-state area can be proud of means putting a winning product on the field. The Giants have had one winning season in the last seven and were embarrassed in their only playoff game during that time. There has been too much losing for too long for anything other than wins to matter and Judge seems to recognize that.
I don’t think we’ll hear any renditions of the repetitive lines of McAdoo like “I have to watch the tape” or Shurmur’s “We have to be better” from Judge. He knows this area and these fans are too smart to believe or buy into the BS that has been spewed to them by the last two head coaches. I don’t see Judge easily finding positives after inevitable losses the way Shurmur was able to as if everything is fine when the score said otherwise.
“We will play fundamentally sound, we will not beat ourselves. That is our mission right here.”
This is the opposite of the Giants’ mission under Shurmur. I think his actual mission was for the Giants to beat themselves with undisciplined penalties, nonsensical clock management and ill-advised challenges. It wouldn’t surprise me if there had been a sign above the locker room door reading “BEAT OURSELVES” that every player hit on their way to the field during the Shurmur era. Just saying these words gave Judge more success as head coach of the Giants than Shurmur had in two full seasons.
My entire life the Giants have been a team that has beaten themselves. Whether it’s been something like a huge turnover followed by a turnover of their own on the next play, an offsides penalty on a crucial third-and-4 or blowing three- and four-score leads in the fourth quarter, the amount of self-inflicted heartbreak over the years has been unbearable. If Judge is finally the head coach to change this, the Giants will have undoubtedly hired the right person.
Judge said all the right things, looked the part, sounded the part and has made the region he wants to accurately represent believe in him. We’re eight months away from evaluating Judge’s ability to win actual games, but he couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for a franchise and fan base that desperately needs him to work out as the head coach he described on Thursday.
I don’t have any confidence the Giants got this hire right given every personnel, roster, draft and trade decision they have made over the last seven years. But I want them to be right. I want to have a Giants season last past September. I need them to be right.
It might have just been a January press conference, but for now it seems like they might have finally gotten it right.