After a rather rocky start out the gates, Patrick Graham has the New York Giants defense once again playing like one of football’s better units. Paired with Big Blue’s budding play has come mounting buzz that the team’s defensive overlord could be headed for a head coaching gig as soon as 2022.
“Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is continuing to mount buzz in league circles for his fine work with a unit that is thin on individual talent,” per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
While Graham landing a head coaching job may be inevitable, that’s not to say he’d be leaving East Rutherford for certain. Although improbable, La Canfora suggests Graham could be viewed as an heir apparent to current Giants head coach, Joe Judge, should the team opt to move off the 39-year-old following this season.
“With the Mara family and many in football operations very high on Graham, some in league circles believe Graham would be a serious candidate in New York if ownership opted to move on from Joe Judge in 2022. Regardless, Graham’s coaching and leadership is opening eyes,” La Canfora noted.
Is Judge on the Hot Seat?
While theoretically, the Giants have battled their way back into wild-card contention, the team has quite an uphill battle to taste the postseason — an occurrence that has escaped the franchise in eight of the last nine years. As for Judge, he hasn’t done anything up to this point to solidify his job for next season.
Yes, he won the introductory press conference. Yes, he’s beloved throughout the Giants building and yes, he seemingly has a good hold on the locker room. However, 25 games into his Giants coaching tenure and Judge has just nine wins to show for it. That’s just two more wins than former head coach Pat Shurmur had 25 games into his Giants stint, who was fired at the conclusion of his second season.
Still, the Giants organization has a long track record of being loyal to their head coaches, sometimes to a fault. Despite their knack for losing, Judge has managed to maintain team chemistry while flaunting enough high-end coaching traits to warrant another season at the helm. Unless things completely crumble over the next seven weeks, chances are the Mara family would agree.
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Graham Already Has His ‘Dream Job’
This wouldn’t be the first time Graham’s name has come up in head coaching talks. In fact, this past offseason, the G-Men’s MetLife roommates, the New York Jets, even went as far as to request an interview with the Illinois native. Graham declined the request, instead opting to re-up with the Giants on a contract extension to maintain what he considers his “dream job.”
“This is my dream job, being the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants,” Graham told NJ.com’s Zack Rosenblatt in February. “It’s a great opportunity, to be able to stay here, and the commitment they’re showing me. But the fact is, it’s the NFL. I still got a ways to go. We’ve got to perform better than this past year. That’s my goal. But I love being here.”
Despite ranking within the bottom-eight of total defenses on the 2021 NFL season, the Giants have allowed just 39 total points and an average of 314.7 yards over their last three games, the latter of which is the eighth fewest in football over that span. Graham and the defense will look to continue their hot streak into Week 11, where they’ll attempt to upset an angry Tampa Bay Buccaneers team coming off a disappointing loss against Washington.