You want to see a clown show? How about a team that lays down so flat on its coach that it loses seven of its last eight games and can’t even average 10 points? How about a team that so surrenders, is so lacking in gumption, that on a second and nine and then third and 11, it runs two quarterback sneaks and punts. In just the second quarter. It made “a laughable season even more laughable,” former Giants great Michael Strahan said, and so it was. Downright clownish.
Meanwhile, there was Washington, still striving despite late-season personal tragedies, bouts of covid-19 and a discouraging number of injuries — down to its fourth-string center and with a backup quarterback in Taylor Heinicke who proved a damn sight more competent than anyone Judge had the wisdom to keep on his roster at the position. There was Antonio Gibson, still running hard to a 1,000-yard season, while the Giants’ extravagantly paid wideout Kenny Golladay couldn’t be bothered to even extend his fingertips for a ball that hit him in the hands. Washington’s season-ending victory over the Giants served up a memorable eat-it sandwich to Judge, who, boy, had it coming.
Is there a more supercilious man in the NFL, with fewer accomplishments, than Judge?
Judge served from 2012 to 2019 for Bill Belichick in New England, but for some reason this guy doesn’t have the first idea of how to build up his own team — which is now 10-23 in two seasons under him — without cutting someone else down. His coy reference last week to the emotional explosion between Washington’s Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen wasn’t just a cheap shot; it was something worse. “This ain’t a team that’s having fistfights on the sidelines, this ain’t some clown show organization or something else, okay? We’re talking about the foundation built,” Judge said, as if somehow Rivera’s foundation is cracked and flawed compared to this temple of excellence, the Giants.
The clown show remark was the one that got all the attention, but the rest of Judge’s remarks last week, after his team got so smeared by Chicago, 29-3, with minus-10 net passing yards, are worth examining for the sheer boldness of Judge’s contempt for his peers in the coaching profession. He went out of his way to blame-shift the lousiness of the Giants on to Pat Shurmur, who was fired back in 2019, suggesting that Shurmur had infected the organization with all kinds of losering.
“When I came here and I sat down with all the players, I wanted to know what it was like in here, what we had to change from their mouths, all right?” Judge said. “To a man, every player looked me in the eye and said, Joe, it’s not a team, they don’t play hard … everybody quit, everybody tapped, they stopped showing up to captains’ meetings, all that stuff. Right? They tapped out. Okay?”
They tapped out so much they won two of their last three games under Shurmur. Fought all the way to the wire for him, even though they lost 21 players — damn near half the roster — to injured reserve, and still lost five games by a touchdown or less.
Judge? He lost his last four games this season by the collective score of 106-26.
Not content to crap all over Shurmur, Judge also slurred assorted other nameless coaches by claiming former players call him up surreptitiously and tell him they wish they still played for him with the Giants.
Nor was this the first time Judge has pushed himself a step up by using someone else’s neck as a boost. Remember last season when Philadelphia appeared to tank a season-ending game to the WFT with Coach Doug Pederson on his way out? “To disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything you can to help those players win, we will never do that as long as I’m the head coach of the Giants,” said Judge. The man who would call two quarterback sneaks to set up a second-quarter punt.
You know what a clown show in the NFL is? A clown show is letting Colt McCoy, a great locker room leader, get away to the Arizona Cardinals for barely more than $1.2 million in the name of an “upgrade” at reserve quarterback, leaving your team with Mike Glennon. A clown show is hiring the single largest staff in the NFL, with four “quality control” coaches and a “chief of staff,” and stocking it with a bunch of buddies from your old collegiate staffs, only to scapegoat Jason Garrett — a man of unarguable merit who went 85-67 and won three division titles as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys — with a midseason firing. Only to have your offense average nine points a game.
All across the NFL this weekend, accomplished coaches worked tight-lipped with their jobs on the line, managed to field teams that played hard for them — and did so without stepping over colleagues. Guys who know they won’t be back next season nevertheless put teams on the field that played effortfully, most notably Darrell Bevell’s Jacksonville Jaguars and Rich Bisaccia’s Las Vegas Raiders. Vic Fangio’s Denver Broncos fought valiantly before losing to Kansas City, and with that Fangio was out, despite a 7-10 mark and a track record of over 30 years in which he has rarely coached a defense that wasn’t among the top five in the NFL. With him went his offensive coordinator Shurmur. They exited with pure class and without a word of blame.
Giants owner John Mara has said he will have to be “patient” with Judge, given his lack of previous head coaching experience. But lack of experience is not Judge’s issue. It’s hard to see how a guy who already thinks he knows more than anyone in the league can learn anything. Judge’s issue isn’t lack of experience. It’s lack of character.