Rewinding to last offseason, then-first-year head coach Joe Judge was readily clowned by the masses for his intense, (somewhat) college-like approach. From removing nameplates from players’ jerseys to implementing penalty laps for miscues, Judge’s methods were questioned more times than not.
Things got off to a rocky start, as his New York Giants came out the gates with a horrendous 1-7 record to kick off the season. However, the team eventually got things rolling. Big Blue went on to close out the year with a 5-3 record over their final eight games, falling a mere one game shy of their first playoff berth since 2016. Fast forward to current day and the Giants appear on the cusp of potential contention in the NFC, all while led by one of the league’s most lauded young coaches.
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Shepard Praises Judge… Pat Shurmur & Ben McAdoo? Not So Much
Shepard admitted in the interview that playing under Judge isn’t exactly a walk in the park. However, the veteran receiver had nothing but praise for the 39-year-old head coach and his coaching methods, showering Judge with praise — albeit, seemingly at the expense of some of his former coaches.
“He’s a tough coach, man,” Shepard said of Judge. “He’s a tough coach, but that’s what we needed. For the previous two coaches, we didn’t do any conditioning or anything like that. But I will say last year was my first year of really having a conditioning — it kind of felt like Oklahoma all over again.”
Shepard continued, “You know what? It was honestly good for us. We would get into the fourth quarter and guys would be wheezing and we were like, nothing happened. So he’s getting us into shape, but it’s all for good.”
Changing the Culture
Of course, the previous two head coaches Shepard alluded to are Pat Shurmur and Ben McAdoo, each of whom lasted no more than two seasons at the helm. While McAdoo did muster up an 11-5 record in his first season as head coach, he quickly lost the locker room, leading to numerous player suspensions, fines and unnamed sources bashing McAdoo. The following year he was fired in-season after a 2-10 record and is now mostly known as the coach that ended Eli Manning’s 210-consecutive start streak in order to get a closer look at Geno Smith under center.
While less hectic than McAdoo during his stint in East Rutherford, Shurmur’s on-field product was even worse, compiling a record of 9-23 from 2018-19. Saying Shurmur was in over his head may be a bit harsh. Yet, the fact that he owns the seventh-worst head coach win-loss percentage in NFL history (.292) proves he’s simply more suited for a coordinator role.
Simply put, Judge may have come off as a hardnose early on (and likely still does to a degree) but the fact of the matter is he was presented with quite a tall task — changing a losing culture that folks like McAdoo and Shurmur played such a pivotal part in creating. A 180 approach was needed if the franchise had any hopes of pulling themselves out of the near-decade-long rut they found themselves in.
While Judge failed to deliver a winning season in his first year with the team — marking the seventh such occurrence for the Giants in the past eight seasons — that’s more than likely to change in the near future under his supervision.
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