Joe Judge

Giants More Open To Trading Down?

As he enters his eighth season as a GM, Dave Gettleman has a strange streak going. Neither the Panthers nor Giants have traded down during a draft. But with the Giants possessing several big needs after a third straight woeful season, their third-year GM appears more open to the prospect of moving down to collect additional assets.

While no discussions have taken place yet, Gettleman sounds amenable to trading down, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. The arrival of longtime Patriots assistant Joe Judge and an organizational desire to shift philosophies have contributed to the team’s newfound interest in potentially moving back in Round 1, Vacchiano adds.

After the Giants’ 2016 playoff season — the franchise’s lone postseason berth since Super Bowl XLVI — they have gone 12-36. Save for maybe defensive line, the team has needs at every defensive position while also lacking a young talent at either offensive tackle spot.

Judge observed Bill Belichick execute trade-down maneuvers annually, and Vacchiano adds the Giants’ new HC will have supporters in the building to move back from the team’s No. 4 overall slot. This marks the third straight year the Giants have held a top-six pick. The franchise has not traded down in the first round since the Ernie Accorsi regime, when the team slid down seven spots in 2006 and selected Matthias Kiwanuka.

Another reason the Giants will consider moving down: quarterback-seeking teams’ interest in Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, sources informed Vacchiano. The Dolphins have let it be known they are committed to taking a quarterback, and they have been linked to moving up from their No. 5 spot to do so. The Lions also do not appear in the quarterback market, so they could put their No. 3 pick for sale as well. The Chargers pick at No. 6; they are moving on from Philip Rivers. At No. 7, the Panthers may be leaning in that direction with Cam Newton. The Giants figure to have options if they decide to sell their top choice.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Haskins, Giants

New Redskins coach Ron Rivera has insisted he wants to have a quarterback competition, and that nothing will be handed to second-year incumbent Dwayne Haskins. Haskins doesn’t have any problem with that, and he said as much to reporters during a recent community event. “That’s cool,” Haskins said of Rivera’s remarks, via Peter Hailey of NBC Sports. “I’m just going to have to work hard and eventually take it over. Just do your best to be accountable for what you have to do and be ready to go.” That’s obviously the type of attitude that his new coaching staff will like to hear.

Rivera specifically shouted out Alex Smith recently and indicated he could even be back with the team in 2020, although that still seems pretty unlikely. By all accounts, Haskins will almost certainly be under center for the Redskins in Week 1 even though the staff plans to make him earn it. Haskins took over for Case Keenum midway through last season, and was up and down like most rookies. The Ohio State product struggled early on, but started to play a lot better in his last couple of games.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Giants traded for Leonard Williams at the deadline even though they weren’t headed to the playoffs and he was set to be a free agent, putting a lot of pressure on them to extend him. To that end, the team is “intent” on re-signing him this offseason, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. However, he isn’t going to come cheaply. Vacchiano thinks the defensive lineman will be seeking a contract worth around $15MM annually. The sixth overall pick back in 2015, Williams has always been high on talent but a bit underwhelming on the field. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016, but has been more up and down since then. Still only 25, he should still be entering the prime of his career. New York gave up third and fifth round picks for him.
  • Speaking of the Giants, new head coach Joe Judge put together an interesting inaugural staff with some notable hires. Speaking recently, Judge dished on his thought process when bringing his staff together, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “To me, it’s a big trust factor with the guys I have on the staff,’’ Judge said. “I have a personal relationship with a lot of these guys, professional relationships with nearly all of them.” There are a number of high profile coaches on the staff, including recently fired Browns and Cowboys head coaches Freddie Kitchens and Jason Garrett. Despite that, the rookie head coach insisted that he didn’t hire them because of their experience leading teams. “I didn’t set out to hire anyone with former head coaching experience,’’ Judge said. “That ended up being a plus of what different guys brought to their area.” On Kitchens specifically he said “what I love about Freddie is he brings an element of toughness and discipline to his room. He brings outside-the-box thinking a lot of times to how he approaches the game from a game-plan perspective.’’

Position Coaches: Gilbride, Flaherty, Lupoi, Tolbert

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is beginning to fill out the position coaching spots in Carolina. Kevin M. Gilbride will be in charge of the team’s tight ends and Pat Flaherty is expected to be named the team’s offensive line coach, per Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. Gilbride has extensive experience as a tight ends coach, serving in the position with the Giants from 2014-17 and with the Bears from 2018 until he was fired last month.

The Panthers will be the fifth NFL organization to hire Flaherty as an offensive line coach. Flaherty worked as the offensive line coach from 2004-2015 with the Giants followed by a one-year stint with the 49ers, a two-year stint with the Jaguars, and a a short period with the Dolphins in 2019. While Flaherty brings a long line of experience, he was fired in Miami prior to the end of training camp after struggling to implement the team’s scheme.

  • The Falcons have named Browns defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi as the team’s defensive line coach and run game coordinator, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Lupoi was a collegiate defensive lineman at Cal, where he began his coaching career in 2008. After a stint with the University of Washington as the defensive line coach, he joined the staff at Alabama, eventually becoming the team’s defensive coordinator in 2018. Lupoi moved to the professional coaching ranks for the first time when he joined Freddie Kitchens‘ staff prior to this season.
  • Giants new head coach Joe Judge will not be making changes to the entire coaching staff. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, reports that Judge is expected to retain wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. While New York struggled in many areas this season, the receiving corp showed impressive depth. Tolbert was credited with helping late-round pick, Darius Slayton, become a legitimate receiving option.

Giants Request Permission To Interview Dolphins DC

New Giants head coach Joe Judge continues working to fill out his staff. New York has requested permission to interview Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham for the same position, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network. Garafolo adds that the request is expected to be granted.

Generally, teams are hesitant to allow their coaches to interview with other teams unless it is for a clear promotion. However, Judge worked with Graham and current Dolphins head coach Brian Flores with the Patriots, which may make Miami more willing to make an exception. Graham not only shares a history with Judge, but also worked with the Giants from 2016-17, serving as the team’s defensive line coach from 2016-17.

On the surface, it would seem like a surprise for a coach on a 5-11 team to be receiving outside interest, but entering the season many wondered if the Dolphins would manage to win any games. Miami clearly entered the season with a tank in mind, making minimal free agent additions last offseason and trading the team’s best offensive lineman (Laremy Tunsil), defensive back (Minkah Fitzpatrick), and wide receiver (Kenny Stills) early in the season. While the Dolphins are by no means a legitimate contender, they finished the season winning three of their final five games, including wins against the Eagles and Patriots.

Since Judge was relatively unknown before the Giants announced his hiring this week, little is known about the people he might target to fill out his staff. At least to start, it appears he will continue to look to the Bill Belichick coaching tree.

Coaching Notes: McDaniels, Browns, Judge, Giants, Rams, Cowboys

Josh McDaniels left his Browns visit without a deal, and the latest word is that Cleveland will take the weekend to mull things over. While they’ve been careful not to tip their hand too much, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic tweets that it’s not a good sign McDaniels went back home without a contract. Lombardi was the first to suggest that now former Browns GM John Dorsey might be in danger, so he’s certainly plugged into the situation. A report from earlier this morning indicated that McDaniels, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz were the three finalists, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets that “multiple people around the league” believe it’s down to McDaniels and Stefanski. If Lombardi and Fowler are both correct, then that would seem to indicate Stefanski is the favorite as of right now.

Here’s more from the coaching ranks:

  • The Giants gave Joe Judge a five-year contract to be their head coach, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It’s not the massive seven-year deal that Matt Rhule got from the Panthers, but it’s a significant commitment nonetheless. It’s especially noteworthy since, as Schefter points out, each of New York’s last two coaches have been given two years or less on the job. Simply to avoid the reputation of being coach-killers, the Giants’ ownership will likely give Judge a somewhat lengthy leash.
  • Cleveland is the only team with a head-coaching vacancy, but the dust has yet to settle for plenty of assistant coaches. There are still a lot of openings around the league, and it looks like a bidding war is brewing between the Rams and Cowboys. Both Los Angeles and Dallas are fighting to make Stan Drayton their next running backs coach, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com (Twitter link). Drayton is currently the run-game coordinator at Texas. Brandt notes that Drayton coached Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State, which explains the Cowboys’ interest. It’ll be interesting to see whether he picks Sean McVay or Mike McCarthy.
  • In case you missed it, Rhule is looking to bring his defensive coordinator from Baylor with him to fill the same position in Carolina.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Judge, Cowboys

Before signing a whopping seven-year, $60MM+ deal with the Panthers, coach Matt Rhule asked if the Giants were willing to match the offer. The organization ultimately passed, and co-owner John Mara said the team wasn’t comfortable paying that kind of money for a first-time NFL coach.

“For a new head coach in the NFL, I just didn’t think that was a reasonable way to go,” Mara told SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano (Twitter link). The executive noted that the organization was also already excited about the prospect of hiring Joe Judge.

We heard yesterday that the Giants asked Rhule to meet with them in person, but Rhule pressed for a more definitive answer. When the Giants informed him that they would not match on the money or length of the deal, Rhule cancelled his Giants interview and accepted the Panthers offer, out of fear that owner David Tepper would pivot to Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Let’s check out some more notes out of the NFC East…

  • Speaking of Judge, when Mara first met with the former Patriots ST coordinator, he wasn’t “really expecting all that much because I didn’t really know him” (via Vacchiano on Twitter). When asked if Judge was on Mara’s initial list of candidates, the executive gave a candid response: “If you asked me a week ago, 10 days ago, I would have said it probably would have been a long shot.”
  • Texas associate head coach and run game coordinator Stan Drayton was scheduled to meet with the Cowboys today, as ESPN’s Todd Archer passes along. Drayton does have a connection to the offense, as he coached Ezekiel Elliott back at Ohio State. The 48-year-old also previously served as the Bears running back coach. Archer adds that running backs coach Gary Brown could still return to the organization.
  • In case you missed it, former Redskins’ senior VP of player personnel Doug Williams will now serve as senior vice president of player development. The organization also parted ways with football operations vice president Eric Schaffer.

NFC East Rumors: Cowboys, Giants, Barwin

Mike McCarthy being hired so soon points to the Cowboys being confident he will coax more from their talented roster than Jason Garrett did, and ownership looks set to give its new HC more power. McCarthy will not only have greater input on roster decisions than he did in Green Bay but will hold as much influence in this area as Bill Parcells did three coaches ago in Dallas, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News and Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter links). It was not a secret McCarthy and ex-Packers GM Ted Thompson did not see eye to eye on the latter’s aversion to free agency additions, so it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys proceed now that McCarthy will possess greater influence than Jason Garrett or Wade Phillips did on this front.

Here is the latest from Dallas and other NFC East cities:

  • Jerry and Stephen Jones kept Garrett in the loop on their plans, notifying the since-displaced head coach they planned to interview McCarthy. “[Jason] said, ‘You’re not going to meet anybody more special than Mike. I love his story, I love him. he’s great,’” Jones said. Attempting to explain the delay in parting ways with Garrett, Jerry Jones said he sought a “soft landing” for his 10-season HC. Stephen Jones said the Cowboys’ deliberate actions were “in line with what Jason wanted.”
  • The Cowboys only interviewed McCarthy and Marvin Lewis for their coaching job. No other interviews were scheduled, Werder tweets.
  • Bret Bielema is expected to be in the mix for the Giants‘ defensive coordinator role under Joe Judge, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. Judge is believed to have most of his staff selected, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, who notes said staff will likely include several coaches with more NFL experience than the 38-year-old HC. The former Wisconsin head coach, Bielema spent 2018 as a Patriots consultant and coached the Pats’ defensive line this season.
  • Not long after Connor Barwin announced his retirement, the pass rusher may be set to transition into a staff role. The Eagles may be in the process of bringing Barwin in for a personnel role, per Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio (Twitter link). This may mean a scouting job for the 33-year-old ex-Eagles linebacker. Barwin played four seasons with the Eagles, from 2013-16, arriving early in Howie Roseman‘s GM stay.

Giants Hire Joe Judge As Head Coach

Jan. 8: The hiring is official, per a team announcement.

Jan. 7: The Giants are finalizing a deal to hire Patriots wide receivers/special teams coach Joe Judge as their new head coach, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) reports. This news comes moments after the Panthers hired Matt Rhule, who was believed to be the Giants’ top target. 

Interestingly, Schefter hears that the deal was in the works on Monday night, before Rhule shook hands with Carolina brass. That was “another reason” why Rhule accepted the Panthers’ offer, according to Schefter, which indicates that the Baylor head coach might not have been the Giants’ first choice after all.

Before agreeing to a seven-year deal with the Panthers that could be worth up to $70MM, Rhule called the Giants and gave them an opportunity to match the offer, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. When the Giants declined, Rhule 86’d his scheduled interview with the G-Men, and the Giants shifted their focus to Judge.

The Giants considered a whole host of candidates for their head coaching vacancy, as shown in PFR’s Head Coaching Search Tracker. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, and Cowboys assistant Kris Richard were also on the radar, and the Giants were reportedly seeking an interview with ex-Cowboys HC Jason Garrett. Garrett, apparently, won’t be interviewing for the top job, however – Judge has been tapped as the Giants’ next head coach.

Judge, 38, was being groomed by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for an even larger role down the line. He also had an opportunity to return to his alma mater, Mississippi State, as their head coach. Ultimately, he chose to become the new head coach of the Giants, replacing the recently-dismissed Pat Shurmur.

Judge joined the Pats in 2012 after a three-year stint as a special teams assistant at Alabama. In 2015, he was elevated to ST coordinator and, in 2019, he was also given the WRs coach title. Although he doesn’t have the star power of the Giants’ other reported candidates, the club believes that he has the right temperament and energy to handle the pressure that comes with the New York market.

Judge becomes the latest Belichick protege to join the head coaching ranks. In the past few years, Mike Vrabel (Titans), Matt Patricia (Lions), and Brian Flores (Dolphins) have all left the nest and climbed the ladder.

The Redskins, Cowboys, Panthers, and Giants have all filled their head coaching vacancies, leaving the Browns as the lone team in search of a new leader. The Browns saw a few of their targets go elsewhere, but, on the plus side, they can now afford to take their time in the search.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Matt Rhule Preferred Giants To Panthers?

On Tuesday, Matt Rhule signed on as the new coach of the Panthers. However, the former Baylor head coach preferred the Giants job, according to a source who spoke with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY

After receiving a whopping seven-year, $62MM offer from the Panthers – a deal that could reach $70MM, through incentives – Rhule called the Giants to see if they would be willing to match. The Giants asked Rhule to meet with them in person, but Rhule pressed for a more definitive answer. When the Giants informed him that they would not match on the money or length of the deal, Rhule cancelled his Giants interview and accepted the Panthers offer, out of fear that owner David Tepper would pivot to Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

In the weeks leading up to the hire of Joe Judge, Rhule was the Giants’ top target in their search. However, the Giants insist that they preferred the Patriots assistant, even when putting finances aside. Judge floored the Giants in his interview and Vacchiano hears that he came with a sterling recommendation from Bill Belichick.

It doesn’t matter how we got here,” one team source told Vacchiano. “We feel we got the right guy. And I think everyone will be happy in the end.”

Ron Rivera was also linked to the Giants job by many, due to his history with GM Dave Gettleman. The Giants had interest in the 58-year-old, but Vacchiano hears that he was not considered a priority, even before he was hired by the rival Redskins.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: Rhule, Giants, Cowboys

Even after Joe Judge‘s standout interview Monday led to him becoming the Giants‘ head coach, the franchise still had Matt Rhule as their preferred candidate. The Panthers‘ seven-year, $62MM offer to the Baylor head coach essentially prompted the Giants to fold their hand on this front, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noting Big Blue balked at the contract length and salary. Rhule’s $8.9MM salary makes him the sixth-highest-paid coach in the league — behind Bill Belichick ($12MM per year), Pete Carroll ($11MM AAV), Jon Gruden ($10MM), Sean Payton ($9.8MM) and John Harbaugh ($9MM). The Panthers also paid Baylor a $6MM buyout, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Just months ago, Rhule agreed to an extension with the Big 12 program.

Here is the latest from the coaching front:

  • In addition to missing out on the Ron Rivera boat, the Giants wanted to speak with Mike McCarthy again, Vacchiano adds. The Cowboys swooping in prevented such an opportunity.
  • Big Blue received a ringing Judge endorsement from Belichick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The former Giants defensive coordinator and six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach called the Giants to sell them on Judge’s credentials, despite his non-traditional candidacy as a special teams coordinator.
  • Shifting to McCarthy’s Cowboys staff, the team is expected to hire Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel to the same position, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Fassel’s contract was up. The second-generation NFL coach will relocate to Dallas after spending eight seasons with the Rams. Fassel came over from the Raiders in 2012, when Jeff Fisher took over in St. Louis, and stayed on with Sean McVay‘s team for three seasons. Fassel served as Rams interim HC in 2016, after the franchise fired Fisher. The Rams are losing their DC and ST coordinators, with Wade Phillips also out of the picture.
  • Other candidates have surfaced to relocate to Texas. Cowboys assistants expect Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan to be named Dallas’ new defensive coordinator, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Nolan was the 49ers’ head coach in 2005, when McCarthy served as San Francisco’s OC. Additionally, Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is on McCarthy’s radar, per Pelissero (on Twitter). Tomsula was the 49ers’ HC in 2015 and has been the Redskins’ D-line coach since 2017.
  • The Bengals and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons have agreed to an extension, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). A longtime Dolphins ST boss, Simmons interviewed for the Bengals’ HC job last year and joined Cincinnati’s staff as a key assistant after the top job went to Zac Taylor. Despite Cincinnati’s 2-14 record, the team ranked first in special teams DVOA under its first-year leader.