On Wednesday evening, the New York Giants and New York Jets played the second preseason game. The game ended in a tie, with the Giants winning on downs and the Jets getting a touchdown as they were attempting an onside kick. The game was played in a Giants Stadium that had been undergoing a renovation (commonly referred to as “MetLife”) and the field was well worn. The game was the second in a preseason double-header and the Giants used a strong defensive performance to take a 21-0 lead into halftime.
When talking about the recent commitment of Alabama’s newest running back, the sports world has been abuzz because Alabama head coach Nick Saban made a tongue-in-cheek reference to work with Giants head coach Joe Judge when talking about how Alabama can beat the Giants in the upcoming BCS National Championship.
Nick Saban’s interview with NFL Network’s Deion Sanders on Wednesday went down as one of the great sports moments of all time. Here’s why.
Joe Judge, the head coach of the New York Giants, has an outstanding resume. Judge coached special teams in New England under Bill Belichick before to accepting the coaching position in New Jersey. Judge assisted Alabama’s Nick Saban in running his third unit prior to his tenure in Foxborough (after a short summer stay at Southern Miss).
Coaches like Bill Belichick and Nick Saban are known for being abrasive and direct. Judge, on the other hand, recounted a tale on a podcast that paints a different picture of Saban. Saban and an unnamed accomplice, according to Judge, transformed Judge’s interview into a Muppets-style comic sequence.
Joe Judge’s selection as the head coach of the New York Giants was unexpected.
(From left to right) Alabama head coach Nick Saban and New York Giants head coach Joe Judge | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images; Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The Giants’ decision to choose Judge dates back to the team’s last coaching search in 2018. Pat Shurmur was hired as a consequence of that process, but only after the Pats’ offensive and defensive coordinators, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, were interviewed.
According to The Athletic, both coaches informed Giants management that if they won the job, they wanted to bring the then-36-year-old special teams whiz with them. After firing Shurmur two years and a 9-23 record later, Giants co-owner John Mara and GM Dave Gettleman remembered this.
The Giants preferred Matt Rhule, the head coach at Baylor who worked as an assistant under Tom Coughlin in East Rutherford, during their 2023 coaching search, according to most sources. Rhule, on the other hand, accepted a position with the Carolina Panthers without even interviewing with the Giants.
During the process, the New York brain trust interviewed a number of hot coordinators as well as a seasoned head coach. Mike McCarthy, Eric Bieniemy, Kris Richard, and Don “Wink” Martindale were among the names mentioned.
Mississippi State, Judge’s alma school, was also interested in hiring him for their vacant head coaching job. In the end, he chose to remain in the NFL and join the Giants’ coaching staff.
In his interview at Alabama, Nick Saban put the former special teams coach to the test.
Judge coached at Division III Birmingham-Southern before taking the Giants or possibly the Patriots position. His performance there attracted Saban’s attention, and the legendary coach invited him to apply for the job of special teams coordinator at Alabama.
Judge recounted a tale about the conversation on the Flying Coach with Sean McVay and Peter Schrager podcast, and it put Saban in a different light.
Before dismissing the other coaches, Judge met with Saban and the whole coaching staff. Saban urged Judge to “teach me punt protection” now that they were one-on-one. Saban exited the room after drawing some strategies and telling Judge he’d be right back.
For nearly 25 minutes, the former Miami Dolphins and LSU Tigers coach did not return. Judge refused to sit the whole time, ensuring that he was “ready to go” when Saban returned. The test started at that point:
He returns to the room. Now he enters with a man I’ve never seen before and haven’t seen since. So, I’m not sure who this man is. But when he comes in, it’s like a scene from The Muppet Show. This guy and Saban just sit there making fun of how I’m dressed – and I’m sitting there the whole time, but I’m just staring at them, thinking to myself, “You know, I’ve cut up enough in schoolyards, I know what you’re here for.” You want to see whether I blink as you burst my balls,’ she says. That’s not something I’m going to do.
Judge claimed he laughed through Saban’s and his partner’s jokes before returning to “talkin’ ball.” Saban then offered Judge the position the following morning. The new special teams coach for the Crimson Tide would stay with the club for the following three seasons.
You’re familiar with the 32 head coaches. But who might be a game-changer in 2023 as an Assistant Coach? Chris Horton, the Special Teams Coordinator for the @Ravens, is youthful, eager, and well-liked by his teammates, according to @PSchrags.
“Baltimore’s special teams groups are among the finest in the NFL year after year.” pic.twitter.com/4irfConpeb
GMFB (@gmfb) 24 June 2023
NFL clubs seldom employ special teams coordinators as head coaches for whatever reason. When they do, though, it generally works out well.
Belichick and Jim Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens are both on any list of the greatest current NFL head coaches. According to Giants.com, Belichick coached special teams for the Detroit Lions in the late 1970s, while Harbaugh led the unit for Ray Rhode’s Philadelphia Eagles in the 1980s.
It also doesn’t end there. Mike Ditka and Dick Vermeil, both Super Bowl champions, coached special teams for Tom Landry’s Cowboys and George Allen’s Los Angeles Rams, respectively. Also, before leading the Buffalo Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances, Marv Levy was the Eagles’ kicking game coordinator before joining Allen’s staff in Los Angeles in 1970.
Even with such a high rate of success, special teams coordinators aren’t given much credit when the new coaching cycle begins each year. Maybe things will change if Joe Judge can lead the Giants out of their current slump.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
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