2020 NFL coaching changes: New York Giants

2020 NFL coaching changes: New York Giants

NFL Coaching Change with fantasy football impact

2020 NFL coaching changes: New York Giants

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(Danielle Parhizkaran, USA TODAY Sports)

At 38 years old, Joe Judge becomes the fourth man to coach the New York Giants since the Tom Coughlin era ended in 2015. Both Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur were hired as promising offensive coordinators looking to put a fresh — if even youthful by comparison — stamp on this proud franchise after 12 years of rule by the elder statesman.

It almost worked with McAdoo after he nearly doubled Coughlin’s win total from 2015 with an 11-5 showing in ’16. In the three seasons since, with McAdoo being replaced during the 2017 season by Steve Spagnuolo and Shurmur lasting two full campaigns, the Giants have won 12 total games. That does not get the job done, even in the NFC East.

Circling back to present time, the hiring of an untested coach seems curious. There is much to be learned right away, and finding out the hard way in the NFL typically costs many people their jobs as the franchise has to press the reset button. If all else fails, no one can accuse the Mara family of being afraid to take a chance.

So what did the brass see in Judge to warrant his hiring? Experience winning at the highest level, for one. He comes over after spending eight years with the New England Patriots, getting his start as a special teams assistant (2012-14). He served most recently as special teams coordinator (2015-19) while adding wide receivers coach in 2019 to his list of responsibilities. The 2019 Giants’ ragtag band of wideouts thoroughly surprised most prognosticators with 20 touchdown grabs (tied fourth most). Receivers coach Tyke Tolbert was retained for his third year, indicating Judge may not need to be heavily involved in this area of the team.

No one has to worry about Judge taking on too much of a role in his first year in New York. The offense will be run by Jason Garrett after his contract was not renewed by the division-rival Dallas Cowboys for a 10th full season as their head coach. He made a name for himself as an offensive mind once his quarterbacking days were done. The long-time backup to Troy Aikman found immediate success as a playcaller for the Cowboys. He would go on to relinquish the dual role of head coach and offensive coordinator following the 2012 season.

Table: Jason Garrett’s team rankings as a playcaller (lower number is better)

Offense
Rushing Off
Passing Off
Year
Tm
Role
Yds
Pts
TO
Att
Yds
TD
Y/A
FL
Att
Yds
TD
Int
2007
DAL
OC
3
2
7
21
17
10
10
1
18
4
2
21
2008
DAL
OC
13
18
31
25
21
22
12
26
8
9
4
29
2009
DAL
OC
2
14
4
17
7
15
2
11
13
6
13
3
2010
DAL
HC/OC
7
7
20
15
16
21
15
17
9
6
7
20
2011
DAL
HC*
11
15
7
24
18
30
9
16
11
7
5
5
2012
DAL
HC*
6
15
25
31
31
27
30
17
3
3
6
28

*Called plays despite no longer having OC title

Under Garrett as a playcaller, Dallas never fell into the lower half of the league in total yardage generated. His system always produced a top-10 passing yardage result, and all but one season it ranked in the top seven for touchdown strikes. The ground game didn’t flourish as well, but in Garrett’s defense, the Cowboys struggled for ages to find a running back to replace Emmitt Smith for longer than a season or so of quality play until Ezekiel Elliott was drafted, and Garrett wasn’t calling plays at that point. Instead, he had Marion Barber III and two years of DeMarco Murray not being particularly effective. Garrett took to the air at a top-10 rate in his final two years calling plays, including the league’s second-most attempts during the 2011 season.

In New York, the do-all Saquon Barkley should continue to thrive, but no player figures to benefit as much as quarterback Daniel Jones. Garrett has been fortunate enough to field two franchise quarterbacks during his tenure in Dallas, and we saw more than enough promise from Jones as a rookie to buy into the idea this union is destined for great things.

Personnel concerns

The Giants have plenty of salary cap space at an estimated $58.2 million available heading into the new league year. There could be even more room found if a few veterans are restructured. No one of consequence on the offensive side of the ball is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

Addressing the offensive line will be crucial, and some of the deficiencies can be handled via coaching. Building in the trenches will be the focus of the offseason movement and draft, which should come as no surprise given general manager Dave Gettleman’s preference for designing a team from the inside out.

Journeyman right tackle Mike Remmers will be available to sign elsewhere, and it’s not a concern, even though the obvious answer to replace him isn’t currently on the roster. Perhaps impending free agent Jack Conklin (Titans) will be of interest. Maybe a positional change is considered for left tackle Nate Solder, who has failed to live up to a massive contract as the blindside protector.

Center Jon Halapio will start his offseason rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon, and the run-blocking regression of second-year guard Will Hernandez didn’t go unnoticed. Neither is a deal-breaker, but adding quality depth will be extremely important.

Oft-injured tight end Evan Engram’s contract enters its final year and is fully guaranteed. While the cost of cutting him wouldn’t be prohibitive at $3.41 million, he’s going to be getting paid that much anyway, so the Giants might as well ride it out one more year with the talented but brittle Engram.

Fantasy football assessment

Jones, as mentioned, should benefit a great deal from the hiring of Garrett. The receiving corps has safety and promise already baked in, and when all is working properly, Engram and Barkley offer dynamic checkdown options. Having such explosive outlets can turn a hurried dump-off pass into a double-digit fantasy play for Jones’ owners. The offensive line concerns and having to learn another offense do give some pause. Cautiously draft him as a high-end QB2 and expect him to force tough lineup decisions many weeks.

Barkley battled a high-ankle sprain and a weak offensive line during his sophomore season. Don’t hold those against him. Injuries haven’t become a pattern yet, and the line should improve. We saw late in the season when he was finally healthy just how much damage he can do in spite of poor run blocking. He’s arguably the top pick once again and is pretty well a lock for the top three in any PPR draft.

Wideouts … this is where it gets a little murky. We saw a tremendous rookie season from Darius Slayton, and one has to believe he will be given every opportunity to capitalize on it. There’s star potential here, but gamers should monitor his offseason progression in this new system. Golden Tate showed he still has a little somethin’ in the tank as he navigates his early 30s, and he’s remains a serviceable depth option in fantasy. “Serviceable” also can be said for Sterling Shepard, although his concussion tally is trending the wrong way. One big hit could be enough to force him to be shut down for an unusual amount of time. He performs as a WR2 many weeks, so there’s still a reason to take a chance on Shepard.

Engram, as discussed, will be given every opportunity to prove he’s still capable of finishing a full season and play at a high level throughout. The upside comes with massive risk in fantasy drafts, and owners will be forced to spend up on an adequate depth replacement option if Engram is their No. 1 tight end.

As for Judge, as long as he relies on his extensive experience with Bill Belichick and a his former head coaches on staff, the sky is the limit. He has the right demeanor to turn this thing around in a hurry, and New York really isn’t that far away from being one of the scariest offenses in the NFL for fantasy football purposes. It all comes down to getting more from the offensive line and the Year 2 maturation of a quarterback whose rookie season was full of bright spots.

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