Niceties are, well, nice, but nothing about what has gone down with the Giants the past few years is in any way nice. And you know what they say about where nice guys finish.
“Nice’’ is not the first characterization most will affix to Joe Judge. Not that he is an ogre or a jerk. Not that he isn’t necessarily nice. It is simply not the overarching aura he gives off.
Organized. Intense. Demanding. Driven. Confident. Take your pick. Judge will raise his hand at the mention of any one of these traits ascribed to him.
He was not hired to be nice. He was hired to stop the darn losing and get the Giants back on the winning track. Judge sees a way to get there, knows there will be detours along the way but will not accept many course corrections. Firing offensive line coach Marc Colombo does not make Judge a tough guy or a bad guy. It does make Joe Judge his own guy, and in some ways it is a harbinger.
“I made this clear from Day 1, I’m always gonna make every decision what I see as best for the team,’’ Judge said Monday in his first comments about the Colombo dismissal. “This decision was no different. There’s been a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation and a lot of people have done a lot of digging trying to find out details of the situation. I’m not going to rehash any of that. I just say we wish Marc luck going forward and the decision was in the best interest of the New York Giants, short and long term.’’
The Giants are 3-7 and in a bizarre NFC East race. Judge, 38, is not messing around and is not for everyone. Some players will not want to be a part of this climb. Some assistants, too. The entire operation is on high alert, and there are those who prefer to ease up on the DEFCON just a bit. Judge is less an acquired taste than he is an accepted taste.
“His style of coaching is good for players who want to win and play hard and practice hard,’’ said defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who in his six-year NFL career with the Jets and Giants is playing for his fourth head coach. “Guys that are willing to buy into a program are going to do great under a system like that. But there’s obviously some guys who are a little bit harder to coach and a little bit harder to get to buy into a system that might be a little bit harder to fall into line.
“When you’re a part of this team you kinda feel the atmosphere of everyone buying in, so even those guys that are a little bit harder to coach, once they see the rest of their teammates buying in, they’ll come along eventually, too.
“I think it’s a hard-hat type of team that wants to grind. I wouldn’t say it’s way too strict or too demanding.’’
The towering offensive line coach cursing out the head man one day and the next day being instructed by the head of security to go see human resources was an unpleasant deterioration of a work relationship. It is not a good look, for anyone involved.
“I don’t care what type of job you have, if anyone gets fired, it’s gonna be a shock to anyone in the workplace,’’ Williams said.
Colombo will not be the last casualty as Judge shapes the program in the image he demands it be shaped. This is not to say the axe is always swinging. Judge has a leash, but it is short and you dare not yank on it.
The determination from the boss was that the offensive line needed help and he intervened. Colombo had a right to be concerned but overreacted to the scrutiny and to the news Judge was bringing in Dave DeGuglielmo as a consultant.
Tom Coughlin before the 2006 season finale stripped the play-calling from offensive coordinator John Hufnagel, handing the duties to quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride. It happens. Feelings are hurt, egos are jabbed. It should not lead to an ugly firing, but sometimes it does.
“The biggest thing for everyone to understand is just keep on moving within the direction of the head coach and trust there’s a plan in place,’’ Judge said.
There it is. Just keep on moving within the direction of the head coach. Those who do, stay. Those who do not, go.
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