NFL coaching hunt winds down as Giants, Panthers hire new leadership
Giants hire Patriots assistant Joe Judge; Carolina lures Matt Rhule from Baylor
New England Patriots special teams co-ordinator and wide receivers coach Joe Judge has been hired as the New York Giants head coach.
The Giants and representatives for Judge reached a contract agreement Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the 38-year-old was offered the job and asked to turn around a franchise that has made the playoffs once since winning the Super Bowl in February 2012.
Judge succeeds Pat Shurmur, who was fired a week ago Monday after winning nine games in two seasons.
Welcome to Big Blue, Joe Judge!—@Giants
"Over the past couple of days we had great conversations about where this team is and where it is headed and how we are going to get there," Judge said in a statement. "My job is to lead our players and coaches. The mission is clear, to win games."
The decision was surprising because Judge was not considered a favourite for the job. He was impressive in his interview on Monday.
"He knows what winning looks like and should look like," Mara said. "His exposure and experience in New England and Alabama have helped shape his philosophy of building a winning program and culture."
However, it also seems the Giants settled on Judge.
Two men considered to be front-runners for top job opted to coach other teams.
Former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl and went to the playoffs nine times in 12-plus seasons, accepted the Dallas Cowboys' job. He interviewed with the Giants last week.
Baylor coach Matt Rhule, a former Giants assistant, was hired by the Panthers on Tuesday, the day he was supposed to interview with New York. The planned meeting never happened.
Before the coaching search started last week, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch had said they wanted to hire a leader.
Judge has never led an NFL team. He has worked for two of the top head coaches in football — Bill Belichick of the Patriots and Nick Saban of Alabama.
Judge has won three Super Bowls (2014, 2016 and 2018 seasons) with New England in eight years as an assistant on Belichick's staff.
Before joining the Patriots, he spent three years working for Saban. The former Mississippi State player won titles with the Crimson Tide in the 2009 and 2011 seasons. He also coached at Mississippi State and Birmingham-Southern.
With Judge serving as special teams co-ordinator since 2015, New England consistently ranked as one of the NFL's top units. He added receivers to his responsibilities in 2019. He coached kicker Stephen Gostkowski to the All-Pro team in 2015 and special teams captain Matt Slater to the same honour in 2016 and this season.
Coming to the Giants will give Judge the chance to work with quarterback Daniel Jones, who had a good rookie season, and running back Saquon Barkley, the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
He will also have to develop a young defence that was ranked among the worst in the league the past two seasons.
Judge will be the Giants' fourth head coach since Tom Coughlin left after the 2015 season. Ben McAdoo was hired in 2016 and made the playoffs. He was fired in early December 2017 with the team en route to a 3-13 mark. Steve Spagnuolo served as the interim coach for the final month. Shurmur was hired in January 2018.
Panthers land Matt Rhule
David Tepper is entrusting Baylor's Matt Rhule to lead the Carolina Panthers out of what he views as a cycle of "long term mediocrity."
The Panthers owner hired the 44-year-old Rhule on Tuesday to become the team's next head coach. He replaces Ron Rivera, who was fired with four games remaining in the 2019 regular season.
The deal is worth $62 million US over seven seasons, with incentives to make even more for winning, said a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team has not released contract details. The NFL Network was first to report the contract terms.
The deal makes Rhule the sixth-highest paid coach in the NFL, according to Forbes. The five coaches ahead of him — New England's Bill Belichick, Seattle's Pete Carroll, Oakland's Jon Gruden, New Orleans' Sean Payton and Baltimore's John Harbaugh, have all won Super Bowls.
The Panthers met with Rhule at his home in Waco, Texas, on Monday, and Tepper liked what he heard and moved swiftly to make a hire. Rhule, who is from New York City, had been scheduled to visit with his hometown New York Giants later in the week and Tepper didn't want to lose him.
Rhule, instead, agreed to become Panthers head coach without interviewing for the Giants.