Former Giants HC Joe Judge Named One of Worst Hires in NFL History

According to Pro Football Network, Brian Daboll's predecessor is considered one of the worst coaching hires of all time.
Former New York Giants head coach Joe Judge.
Former New York Giants head coach Joe Judge. / Danielle Parhizkaran / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 2020 and 2021 seasons are among the several years that New York Giants fans would like to forget even happened, and not just because those years were at the height of the COVID pandemic.

The Giants, who have been looking for a coaching regime to stabilize the franchise, had just turned to Joe Judge, the one-time special teams coordinator of the New England Patriots who had never before been a head coach, to replace the fired Pat Shurmur (who replaced the fired Ben McAdoo).

Judge, the team's 19th head coach in franchise history, seemed to emerge from nowhere in a candidate pool that at the time included Dallas Cowboys defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach Kris Richard, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, and eventual Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy.

Judge, who seemed to know how he wanted the Giants franchise to take shape, struggled to stay afloat when things went south.

After posting a 6-10 record in his first season–ne in which he allegedly got into a heated exchange with Marc Colombo, his offensive line coach whom he fired, the Giants barely missed the playoffs that year, a year in which the Eagles appeared to throw their finale which knocked the Giants out of the playoffs and drew the verbal ire of Judge.

The following season, New York fell to 4-13. Judge dismissed offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and replaced him with Freddie Kitchens.

But as the wheels continued to fall off the Giants’ bandwagon, Judge seemed to become more defensive of the job he was doing, as evidenced by his now famous 11-minute rank in which he tried to convince people that he wasn’t running “a clown show.”

Judge, who was fired after the 2021 season, finished with a 10-23 record after two seasons. That, plus his rocky tenure, seemed enough for Dallas Robinson of Pro Football Network to put the first-time head coach on his list of the top ten worst coaching hires in NFL history, Judge ranking sixth.

The decision that seemed to seal Judge’s fate was his overruling of Kitchens in the regular season finale. In a series where the Giants, pushed back to their own goal line, attempted consecutive quarterback sneaks on 2nd-and-11 and 3rd-and-9, both of which were unsuccessful, Judge's decision-making was called into question.  

At the end of the season, there was some question as to whether the team would retain Judge after general manager Dave Gettleman, with whom Judge allegedly was butting heads toward the end of their respective tenures, “retired.” 

However, ownership decided to go with a clean sweep, hiring the former Buffalo duo of Joe Schoen as general manager and Brian Daboll as head coach, while Judge ended up returning to the Patriots, where he worked under Belichick during the legendary coach’s final seasons.

Judge, who proved to be not ready to handle the bad that came with coaching, had worked with Nick Saban and Belichick for most of his professional career, both coaches who rarely ran into turbulent seasons such as what the Giants experienced.  

Was he worse than Ray Handley, named head coach of the Giants in 1991 after Bill Parcells suddenly resigned due to health concerns? 

One could argue that Handley, who clashed with his players and the media, was worse. But at the end of the day, both coaches, having received two-year stints, failed to record a winning record.

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Andrew Parsaud


Andrew Parsaud is currently attending Penn State, where he is studying digital journalism and media. He is an avid follower of the major New York sports teams. 

Patricia Traina


Patricia Traina has covered the New York Giants for over three decades for various media outlets. She is the host of the Locked On Giants podcast and the author of "The Big 50: New York Giants: The Men and Moments that Made the New York Giants" (Triumph Books, September 2020). View Patricia's full bio.