Sunday’s victory over the Carolina Panthers doesn’t fix everything. Yet, for head coach Joe Judge, the Giants‘ 25-3 upset victory over Matt Rhule’s Panthers was a step in the right direction to alter the narrative in his favor.
Approached by Ian Conner of the New York Post after securing the must-win, co-owner John Mara was asked whether his belief in Judge remains as strong as the day they originally brought him on board.
“It is,” said Mara, who commended Judge’s command of the team and his big-picture outlook. “Obviously, we’ve struggled this year, but he has not lost the locker room, and I’ve seen that happen over the years. I think the players still believe in him. We’ve just got to get our guys healthy again.”
Hot Seat Check
The hot seat underneath Judge had begun to gain steam in recent weeks — a nearly unfathomable turn of events for a guy who entered the year essentially unanimously beloved by the fanbase and lauded throughout the NFL landscape as one of the top up-and-coming coaches in all of football.
However, none of that truly matters if you can’t win football games. And thus far over Judge’s tenure in East Rutherford, he’s struggled to do so. Judge entered Sunday owning a 7-15 record since taking the helm for Big Blue, which is identical to that of Pat Shurmur’s first 22 games on the job — and we all remember how that ended.
Morale has been lacking around the Giants organization for quite some time now. One postseason appearance in the past nine years will do that to a franchise. This season we’ve seen glimpses of frustration begin to boil over. Most notably, when Mara knocked over a pair of trash cans in a fit of rage at halftime of an eventual 17-14 Week 3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Clearly, injuries have played a pivotal part in New York’s demise this season, as they were down six of their opening day offensive starters on Sunday, as well as rookie standout Kadarius Toney and defensive captain Blake Martinez. Still, as Giants legend Amani Toomer highlighted on the Blue Rush podcast, good teams — properly put together teams — find ways to overcome injuries.
Judge is by no means out of the woods when it comes to his job security, and how the remainder of this season plays out will unequivocally hold weight on his future with the team. With that said, it’s hard to zero in on the second-year head coach as one of the main culprits in the team’s lack of success — especially with Dave Gettleman still manning the general manager role.
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Judge vs. Rhule
Before Rhule took over in Carolina two offseasons ago, the former Baylor coach was believed to be the apple of New York’s eye. Apparently, the interest went both ways.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported at the time that Rhule gave the Giants an opportunity to match Carolina’s offer before taking the Panthers gig. Ultimately, the G-Men were swayed by Judge’s stellar interview and Bill Belichick’s high regard for his former assistant.
The rest is history. New York zeroed in on Judge, while Rhule headed to the NFC South — an outcome that Mara sounded fairly pleased about after Judge and the Giants handed Rhule’s Panthers their fourth consecutive loss on Sunday.
“I think they are both good coaches. I’m happy with the one we’ve got,” Mara proclaimed.
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