Adapt or die.
Those three words have been at the very core of New York Giants head coach Joe Judge’s approach to building a team from the beginning.
In his first season--a year in which no one even knew if there would be a season--Judge became the master of schedules. He composed dozens of schedules to fit every conceivable situation, only to toss those plans no longer applicable if benchmarks were reached.
And while the team’s 6-10 record last year would contradict any claims of forward progress, Judge's willingness to adapt managed to get the Giants and the new coaching staff on the same page, believing in each other and the program. This belief never wavered even when the team fell on hard times.
Retired QB Eli Manning weighs in on the Giants' free agency haul
in the video above.
Fast forward to Year 2 of the Judge era, and we’re still very much in a global pandemic (though there is hope that as more COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out, things will be closer to returning to normal this year as far as how NFL programs are run.
But let's get back to the Giants' 16-member free agency class, a group that includes some big money players (Adoree' Jackson, Kenny Golladay) and some fliers (Ifeadi Odenigbo, John Ross).
One thing that stands out about this group is that of their 16 free agents signed since the start of the free agency period, half have a connection to a current member of either the coaching staff or front office:
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- RB Devontae Booker: Was with Denver from 2016-19; crossed paths with current Giants receivers coach Tyke Tolbert.
- WR Kenny Golladay: While with Detroit, crossed paths with Kyle O’Brien, whom the Giants recently hired to their personnel department.
- LB Reggie Ragland: In addition to crossing paths with O’Brien, Ragland played his college ball at Alabama for Nick Saban, who has very strong ties with Judge.
- LB Ryan Anderson: Played his college ball for Saban at Alabama.
- DL Danny Shelton: Spend two years (2018-19) with the Patriots, where he probably crossed paths with Judge on more than one occasion
- CB Adoree’ Jackson: Jackson was teammates with current Giants safety Logan Ryan. Both Jackson and Ryan played for head coach Mike Vrabel in Tennessee, who, of course, has that Patriots connection as a player (2001-08). That’s before Judge’s time with Belichick, but hey, if the Giants are one big extended family, who’s to say the Patriots don’t employ the same values?
- DB Joshua Kalu was teammates with Ryan and played for Vrabel in Tennessee.
- DB Chris Milton was teammates with Ryan and played for Vrabel in Tennessee.
I’m sure there might even be more crossover, such as players having competed against a team that once employed a Giants assistant coach a few years back.
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The point here is that with so many new faces coming into camp, it can be tricky to get everyone on the same page right out of the chute.
The familiarity with the players should help with this process, which, as we saw last year as an underlying yet essential key to the Giants remaining competitive in a weak division right down to the very end.