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Giants let so much more than a win slip through their fingers

October 23, 2020 | 1:50am

 
 
 

Everything the Giants worked for, everything they’d bled for, and now an entire football game was distilled to the most basic element: a ball in the air. Catch the ball, and the Giants win the game. Catch the ball and they close out a thrilling victory, an improbable climb within sight of first place.

Catch the ball and honor the buzz of the week: Why not us?

Even Engram didn’t catch the ball.

Daniel Jones had lofted a beautiful throw. Engram had a step on safety Will Parks. He extended his arms. Just as his feet crossed the 30-yard line the ball fell out of the sky, into his hands … and through his hands. Fourth down instead of first. Eagles ball following a punt, just before the two-minute warning, instead of Giants ball and victory formation.

Why us?

Instead of Why not us?

The Eagles still had to drive 71 yards with just 122 seconds left. Engram’s drop didn’t lose the game. But there wasn’t a Giants fan anywhere, from Freehold to Freeport and all precincts in between who didn’t know what was coming, who didn’t feel this shattering, 22-21 loss in their bones before they saw it on the scoreboard.

 

“No excuses from us,” Giants coach Joe Judge would say.

So you can add Engram’s name to Joe Pisarcik’s, and to Matt Dodge’s to the roster of Giants who’ve helped perpetrate this on-again, off-again nightmare against the Eagles across the decades.

It shouldn’t all fall on his shoulders. He wasn’t on the field when the Giants defense — so stout all night, so resilient all year — allowed two Eagles touchdowns in the final five minutes. He didn’t turn the ball over twice, as Jones did, the 11th time in his 20 career starts in which he’s had multiple turnovers.

 

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But that image, that sequence — ball in the air, ball in his hands, ball through his hands — will be the haunting snapshot of the week and maybe the season, if the Giants aren’t able to crawl back into position to play another meaningful game the rest of the year (though, this being the NFC East, you never know).

“We got the look we wanted,” Engram would say, his words heavy with hurt, his eyes fixed in a thousand-yard stare of disbelief. “D.J. threw a great ball. I didn’t finish the play.

A pause. A sigh. Frustration. Pain.

“One hundred percent, I’ve got to make that,” he said.

A thousand percent, the Giants should have won this game. The Eagles kept trying to hand it to them. Philly led 10-7 at the half, and it could’ve been 24-7. The quarterback, Carson Wentz, made terrible decisions. The coach, Doug Pederson, made puzzling choices.

 
 
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The Giants hung around, then Jones broke off an 80-yard run that was equal parts comic relief (since he stumbled yards shy of the goal line) and game-changing gem, then added a 97-yard drive that put them up 21-10 with 6:17 left.

 

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It was there. It was right there, even when the Eagles answered with a quick TD. The Giants ran two running plays, got two first downs, and only needed a third to run out the clock. Engram didn’t finish his play, but the Eagles still needed to go those 71 yards to finish the miracle.

They went the 71 yards. Wentz connected with Boston Scott for an 18-yard touchdown. The Giants still had life. A field goal would’ve written a proper final chapter. They never got the field goal. Jones fumbled. The Eagles recovered. Ballgame.

Why not us to Why us in about 10 easy steps.

“This is a tough one to swallow,” Giants linebacker Blake Martinez admitted. “It’s the same thing all over again. Lapses. One guy here. One guy there.”

Tough one to swallow. Tough one to accept. The Giants were in as good a position as a 1-5 team could ever be. They had a meaningful football game on the last Thursday of October, long past the point where a 1-5 team should have anything remotely meaningful to play for. They scratch. They claw. They bleed. They play hard every week.

They are 1-6.

“We’re not going to ask you to be patient,” Judge said, his message intended for Giants fans.

Judge grew up an Eagles fan on the other side of this rivalry. He knows what losing a game like this means. He knows what 0-for-their-past-8 against a bitter foe means. And knows those fans probably didn’t sleep much, visions of a ball slipping through fingertips littering dreams all over town. Why us, indeed.

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The Giants have done the unthinkable

November 3, 2020 | 10:56am

 

 

There is no doubt the Giants are getting better, improving, showing many of the earmarks of a stable, well-coached team capable of finding ways to stay just close enough to lose in agonizing fashion.

This is either progress, madness or an extreme form of torture to a fan base that is punch-drunk woozy going on four years now. Breaking down failure, when a franchise is 13-43 since the start of the 2017 season, is akin to collecting and categorizing the leaves falling from the trees on your property. They are everywhere, some more colorful, some barely distinguishable. They sit there for a while, piled up in bunches, scattered around randomly before getting raked up or blown away.

For an operation that is now known for winning about once a month – this is as enjoyable as paying the rent – the Giants under Joe Judge are not lovable as they continue to be losers, by the strict definition of the term. Call a player a loser and brace for impact. Call a team losers and brace for impact. But when recent history states the collection of players and coaches win 23 percent of the time and lose the other 77 percent of the time, what other description can be applied?

Judge’s outfit is the best damn 1-7 team out there. They played better for longer stretches Monday night than Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, which means plenty in the big picture and not much in the here and now. When Daniel Jones threw too slow and too inside for Dion Lewis on a two-point conversion try with 28 seconds remaining, the door was opened for a penalty flag thrown and then picked up, opening the door even wider to add some controversy into another setback. The 25-23 loss meant the Giants’ most recent three losses – to the Cowboys, Eagles and Bucs – were decided by a total of six points. Their last four games – the lone victory, against Washington, is in there – were decided by a total of seven points. In Week 2, the Giants had the ball in the closing minute with chance to beat the Bears in Chicago. There was a one-score loss to the Rams in Inglewood.

It is not easy to beat Judge’s Giants but, for now, almost impossible to get beat by them.

hey are playing, there is little reason to believe it will be that bad. On the flip side, given the way they manufacture losing into an inevitability, there are no assurances they leave the field any day or night with more points than the opponent.

It is understandable Judge, for public consumption, is taking an overwhelmingly positive view of all this. He spoke passionately in his introductory press conference about the need for the team to reflect the New York/New Jersey area and, as these losses mount, he is either reminded or on his own brings up this connection.

 

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“We’re not asking for moral victories,” he said after loss No. 7. “We understand the people of New York deserve better, so we got to keep working to be better for them.”

The Giants have reached midseason accomplishing something that defies logic – falling by the wayside in the NFC East, a division where no one should be left behind.

Asked what he sees out of his team at this mid-point, Judge forged ahead.

“A lot of improvement, I see a lot of improvement,” he said. “So, if you’re going to ask me, the first year, how I’d classify it, I see an improving team that is developing in the division going forward.”

The cynic will say without winning, these signs of improvement are not much to feel good about. The Giants are young, and that is a positive, and in the final eight games one reveal looms more crucial than the rest: What if all this improvement is taking place while Jones, the quarterback, is not progressing with the rest of the group?

More that came out of a closely contested “Monday Night Football” encounter with the Bucs:

— The Giants were ahead of the Eagles 21-10 in the fourth quarter and lost in Week 7. The Giants where ahead of the Bucs 17-15 in the fourth quarter and lost in Week 8. Blowing leads is not a good thing to have on a defensive coordinator’s resume. This should not stick to Patrick Graham, though. He is doing an excellent job mixing and matching his players, shuffling packages on and off the field, getting pressure despite not having a dominating pass rusher, getting coverage despite a glaring deficiency at the No. 2 cornerback spot. “In my opinion, Pat Graham is one of the best defensive coordinators out there,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “His ability to design a game and understand and adjust throughout the game has been amazing throughout the whole season.” Graham had Tom Brady confused in the first half, which is an accomplishment.

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— The Giants are succeeding at a difficult assignment: Mixing in young offensive linemen during the flow of the game. Rookie Matt Peart got 24 snaps (out of 74) at right tackle, replacing veteran Cam Fleming for a few series. This is valuable experience for Peart, the third-round pick from UConn. Another rookie, Shane Lemieux, made his NFL starting debut, replacing Will Hernandez (reserve/COVID-19 list) and played all 74 snaps. Along with Andrew Thomas at left tackle, the Giants at times had three rookie offensive linemen on the field. The last time the Giants had three rookie offensive linemen start at least one game in the same season was 2003 (David Diehl, Wayne Lucifer and Jeff Roehl). The best moment for the youngsters: Wayne Gallman’s 2-yard touchdown run, with Thomas and Lemieux plowing ahead to allow Gallman to ease his way into the end zone.

— As for Gallman, is anyone else out there a bit frustrated and confused why he does not get the ball more often? With Devonta Freeman (ankle) out, Gallman started but was only on the field 43 percent of the offensive snaps. He ran the ball 12 times for 44 yards. Alfred Morris, the 31-year old veteran elevated off the practice squad, got eight rushing attempts and gained 28 yards. Sure, Gallman received more of the workload but perhaps not enough of it.

— How is this for production? Rookie outside linebacker Carter Coughlin got on the field for four defensive snaps. He came away with his first NFL sack, always a big deal. Some deals are bigger than others. Coughlin got future Hall of Famer Brady to the ground. Brady is 43. Coughlin is 23. One to remember, for sure.
 
 
 
 

 

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Giants unexpectedly fire offensive line coach Marc Colombo, replace him with Dave DeGuglielmo, per report

The former Cowboys and Giants OL coach is now seeking a new job

Patrik Walker
 
 
14 mins ago2 min read
 
 
 
 
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Corey Perrine / Contributor

Things haven't gone as planned for Joe Judge in his inaugural season as the New York Giants head coach, and one of his position coaches just paid the price for it, albeit with curious timing. The team hired Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator this offseason after his divorce from the Dallas Cowboys, and the move suctioned in former Cowboys offensive line coach Marc Colombo -- the latter having been let go due to Mike McCarthy's want of longtime friend Joe Philbin. After a slow start to the year by a mostly talentless offensive front, the Giants o-line showed signs of improvement over the last three games and that culminated in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10.

Three days later, Colombo has reportedly been fired by Judge, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, ending a very abbreviated 10-game stretch in New York. He will be replaced by longtime NFL assistant Dave DeGuglielmo, who has history with Judge from their time together with the New England Patriots

The move on Colombo is one that's being met with a level of surprise around the league, considering both the short stay and the fact it comes after improvement on the o-line, but the latter is being attributed to more involvement by Judge, per Mike Garofolo of NFL Network. Garafolo reported that Judge had been working more closely with the offensive line in recent weeks and it has coincided with the improvement from the Giants up front. 

If true, it would at least stand to reason Judge might feel he no longer requires the services of Colombo, and would instead prefer to remain keenly involved but, going forward, with someone he's much more comfortable with. There's another twist to the tale, however, with additional reports stating Judge wanted DeGuglielmo to work alongside Colombo, but the latter's reaction to the idea led to the split.

In other words, Colombo allegedly felt it was an insult, and didn't take it well.

That of course now shifts comfort away from Garrett -- at least while he acclimates to his new position coach -- having spent several seasons with Colombo in Dallas, which included promoting him from OL assistant coach in the wake of firing Paul Alexander midway through the 2018 season. Colombo landed a contract extension for the cleanup he did post-Alexander, but was jettisoned then for a familiar face to the incoming head coach, and has now again suffered that fate in short order. A former first-round pick of the Chicago Bears, Colombo played several seasons in the NFL -- including for the Cowboys -- before entering the coaching ranks as an assistant OL coach in Dallas in 2016.

 

He remains one of the most respected position coaches in the NFL, and it's expected he'll land on his feet fairly quickly, even if it's not until the offseason when teams begin their mission to improve for 2021.

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For everyone’s sake, Joe Judge must sit Daniel Jones this week

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
DEC 15, 2020 AT 6:00 AM
 
 
 
 

Daniel Jones shouldn’t play Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns.

Jones has a hamstring strain and appears to be dealing with another injury coming out of Sunday’s lifeless offensive performance in a 26-7 loss to the Cardinals.

A cryptic Joe Judge wasn’t sure Monday if Jones had received a postgame X-ray. The coach only assured: “I can tell you there’s no broken bones or anything of that nature,”

But that’s hardly encouraging, especially after Jones was a liability on the field Sunday.

 
 

He held the ball too long, couldn’t run, fumbled three times, didn’t see open receivers, and hindered the Giants’ ability to win despite his good intentions.

So Joe Judge has to sit Jones against Cleveland, for the team’s sake and for Jones’ sake.

 
 

It should be Colt McCoy’s ball against Baker Mayfield’s Browns while Jones rests up.

Playing McCoy would sacrifice explosiveness in the passing game, sure, but it also would allow Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to craft and execute a conservative yet clear and defined game plan.

Jones’ impaired health and subpar performance created an element of play-by-play uncertainty on Sunday against the Cardinals. It didn’t fit into the Giants’ disciplined recipe for their preceding four-game winning streak:

Run the ball, eat clock, win the field position battle, and play tough defense.

The Giants did only one of those four on Sunday against Arizona, courtesy of their defense, with a hobbled Jones at QB.

Jones was clearly hampered in the pocket in an ugly loss Sunday.
Jones was clearly hampered in the pocket in an ugly loss Sunday. (Adam Hunger/AP)

With McCoy, they can commit to a similar blueprint that helped them upset the Seahawks in Seattle, 17-12, in Week 13.

McCoy is a detailed-oriented veteran bordering on perfectionist who could help the run game return to its prior efficiency, allow Garrett to move the pocket, and take a shot downfield here and there.

Not to mention, it seems like a bad idea to let an immobile Jones drop back to pass with Browns terror Myles Garrett taking on a Giants offensive line that allowed eight sacks to the Cardinals.

Jones moved a little bit early on against the Cardinals, including one rollout right, but he couldn’t escape when pressured nor open up his hamstring and take off. McCoy is mobile enough to allow the Giants to slide the pocket and count on him to create at times if necessary.

Granted the Giants (5-8) are in a tight NFC East race right behind Washington (6-7). They need Jones to be healthy, however, or he won’t help them optimally execute their plan to win.

What they should have done was keep him out a second straight game on Sunday after holding him out in Seattle. Unfortunately, he played and now he could be worse for wear.

So it’s time to shelve him until he heals, even if it’s for two weeks against the Browns and Ravens to be ready for a possible division-defining finale against the Dallas Cowboys.

Surprisingly, Judge doubled down Monday on having “no regrets” about playing Jones on Sunday, citing the many doctors, coaches, scenarios and conversations that went into ensuring Jones was healthy enough to play.

The Giants’ head coach also said that “if Daniel’s healthy to play and he looked the way he did in practice last week, I’d have no hesitation playing Daniel at all” against Cleveland.

“We made our calculation. We have a lot of confidence in Colt. This has nothing to do with Colt,” Judge said. “But there’s also a commitment we’ve made to Daniel as our quarterback and how we’re running this offense.”

Judge reiterated that the Giants knew Jones would be limited and relegated to the pocket going in. And he stressed it was on the coaching staff to create an offense around whatever personnel is on the field.

“In terms of how we call or structure the game plan, that’s on us as coaches,” Judge said. “To make sure we’re inventive enough and creative enough to put ourselves in situations that if we’re limited with any player in a certain something they can do physically, then we have to give them another option.”

Judge said the Cardinals played well on defense Sunday and that several of their sacks were “coverage sacks,” where “they were good in coverage, we blocked for a long time and Daniel wasn’t gonna pull the ball and run.”

He said he spoke to Jones on Monday morning and the quarterback “assured us he came out with the hamstring really the same as he went in, felt good through the flow of the game.”

Judge said he hadn’t spoken to Jones about anything other than the hamstring, and noted that Jones was due to see the Giants’ doctors later Monday afternoon.

So the coach said “the biggest meeting” he’ll have with the medical staff will come on Tuesday “when (players) are about 48 hours outside the game.

“That’ll kind of tell us in terms of going through the week who we can plan on practicing, managing, having for the game and things of that nature,” Judge said.

Knowing Jones, he undoubtedly wants to power through and play. But he has to consider the consequences both short- and long-term. And frankly, he should have faith in his teammates holding the fort while he rests up.

Washington easily could lose to Seattle this week, especially if Dwayne Haskins has to make his first start since Week 4. The Eagles (4-8-1) will find tough sledding with rookie Jalen Hurts taking on Kyle Murray and the Cardinals at Arizona. And the Cowboys (4-9) still aren’t scaring anyone preparing to take on the 49ers.

McCoy also has helped the Giants win one game. There is still time for Jones to help make this Giants season special, but only if he’s healthy enough to help.

Sitting him on Sunday is the only move.

 
 
 
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Giants report card: This is getting ridiculous

December 21, 2020 | 12:36am | Updated

 

Offense

This is getting ridiculous. This team cannot score. How about a touchdown, guys? Colt McCoy (19 of 31, 221 yards) does not have enough zip on the ball. He had Evan Engram for a touchdown in the first quarter and did not get enough on the throw. This is hardly all on McCoy, though. The receivers do not make enough plays, pure and simple. Wayne Gallman (9-29) had it going a bit in the first half but then was a forgotten man. McCoy usually had enough time but too often found no one open. Right tackle Cam Fleming was called for a holding penalty trying to stop Olivier Vernon. Darius Slayton had a horrendous drop in the fourth quarter. At least Andrew Thomas did not allow a sack by Myles Garrett until the closing seconds.

Grade: F

Defense

Not terrible work at all against the Browns’ tough ground game (only 106 rushing yards) and Nick Chubb (15-50) and Kareem Hunt (7-21) did not go off. Baker Mayfield had an easy time picking apart the secondary, completing 27 of 32 passes for 297 yards. He probably barely broke a sweat. LB Devante Downs was lost in space allowing TE Austin Hooper to run wide open on a 2-yard TD reception in the second quarter. Jarvis Landry (7-61) got a step on Isaac Yiadom in the end zone. Dexter Lawrence got a big pass deflection with his right hand on fourth down in the fourth quarter and got the only sack of Mayfield. Safeties Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan could not confuse Mayfield in the least and Julian Love and Xavier McKinney filling in for James Bradberry were not strong in coverage.

Grade: C

 

 

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Special Teams

Dion Lewis started the game off with a rugged 48-yard kickoff return. He later nearly lost another fumble and that is worrisome. If punter Riley Dixon chooses a different target (other than center Nick Gates) on the fake field-goal pass it might have worked. Graham Gano hit field goals of 37 and 39 yards and now has hit 27 consecutive kicks. The coverage units were better than they have been the past three games.

Grade: B

Coaching

Joe Judge not taking points in the first half was troubling. That first-quarter fake field goal thing Judge signaled in? Didn’t like it. Did not have a problem with him going for it on fourth down on the Cleveland 5-yard line. Good move by Judge applying a 15-yard penalty on an extra-point try, which was missed. Freddie Kitchens was the play-caller for Jason Garrett (COVID-19) and did not stick with the run enough in the first half. Whoever is calling the plays or working with the offense has to figure out a way to get more points on the board. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham stayed in a zone in the secondary and it was picked apart time and again.

Grade: D
 
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Giants’ Dalvin Tomlinson decision will speak volumes

February 22, 2021 | 9:42pm | Updated

 
 

The best teams, the most successful franchises, draft wisely, develop soundly and re-sign diligently.

The Giants for far too long have not been one of the best teams. They have been one of the worst teams. This brings us to what happens next with Dalvin Tomlinson.

The entire future of the franchise does not hinge on whether Tomlinson returns for a fifth season or moves on to another team. He is not a transcendent talent capable of determining the fate of a team. What Tomlinson is, without debate, is a rock-solid player and person, uber-dependable and durable, hard-working and professional, quiet yet forceful, the respect for him manifested in his selection as a team captain. An unflashy, effective defensive tackle, a linchpin of a Giants defense that in 2020 finished 10th in the league against the run, allowing only 111.4 rushing yards per game.

This is a player who wants to return, even after four years of losing, sensing a turnaround is coming.

The question: Can the Giants afford to pay Tomlinson the $10 million per year, or more, he would command on the open market in free agency while also re-signing linemate Leonard Williams to a multiyear deal averaging at least $18 million per season?

Another question: Can the Giants afford not to bring Tomlinson back?

Dalvin Tomlinson’s contract status is a hot topic this Giants offseason. Robert Sabo

In many ways, what Joe Judge is preaching and building almost necessitates keeping Tomlinson. The big man has never missed a game in his four-year career, never created a hint of controversy and sacrifices on the field, taking on double-team blocks to help free up teammates to make plays. Ask inside linebacker Blake Martinez how many of his team-high 140 tackles in his first year with the Giants were aided and abetted by Tomlinson’s dirty work at the line of scrimmage.

Ask members of the secondary to gauge Tomlinson’s value. His 49 total tackles and career-highs in tackles for loss (eight) and quarterback hits (10) plus his 3.5 sacks only tell part of the tale

 
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“I think Dalvin is having as good of a year as anybody on our defense,” safety Logan Ryan said late last season. “Leonard’s having a great year statistically, but Dalvin is having a better year for our team and what we ask him to do.”

If Tomlinson leaves it will continue a disturbing trend — a trend Judge has said he is determined to stop.

There was a long span when the Giants often had the golden touch with their second-round draft picks. Michael Strahan. Amani Toomer. Tiki Barber. Without Osi Umenyiora, Chris Snee and Corey Webster, there would not be the two newest Lombardi trophies in the glass-enclosed case. The failure to keep and, in more cases, to develop their second-round picks has severely compromised the Giants’ chances for success.

In December 2008, the Giants gave Webster, a reliable cornerback, a five-year contract extension. In the next 10 drafts, the Giants’ second round pick did not receive a multiyear contract extension. That is abysmal. In some cases, injuries (Steve Smith, Terrell Thomas) ruined careers. There were a slew of unproductive players taken in the second round. When there were big hits (Linval Joseph, Landon Collins), the decision was made not to ante up with a lucrative deal. The ruinous streak ended when Sterling Shepard signed a four-year extension in April 2019.

What message does Judge send to his players if Tomlinson, a player who did everything right in order to stay, ends up leavi

 
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Tuesday is the first day teams can place franchise or transition tags on players, a period ending March 9. Putting the franchise tag on Tomlinson is a way of making sure he plays for the Giants this season but most likely does not make financial sense. Based on a salary cap of $180 million, the tag for defensive tackles is expected to cost around $14 million. That would be more costly on the 2021 cap than any long-term deal for Tomlinson.

Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham was the Giants defensive line coach in 2017 when Tomlinson was a rookie and said the success of the defensive line this past season was “a direct correlation to his leadership and what he does on that field, regardless of statistics or what have you.”

The Giants will have to consider this, and their unsightly record in re-signing their own second-round picks, when it comes time to make the call on Tomlinson.

 

 

 

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Giants fortify pass rush with free agent Ifeadi Odenigbo

March 17, 2021 | 10:04pm

 
 

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The Giants on Wednesday made a move to bolster their pass rush, signing Ifeadi Odenigbo to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.

Odenigbo, 26, is a 6-foot-3, 258-pound defensive end who has 10.5 career sacks — all in the past two seasons. He had seven sacks for the Vikings in 2019 as a situational pass-rusher. His first career sack, in Week 5 that season, came against Daniel Jones and the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Given a starting job in 2020, he had just 3.5 sacks in 15 starts — though he did have a career-high 15 quarterback hits. He was born in Bayonne, N.J., went to high school in Ohio and played college ball at Northwestern.

The Vikings decided not to tender Odenigbo, a restricted free agent. He was a 2017 seventh-round draft pick by Minnesota. He had brief stays with the Browns and Cardinals before returning to the Vikings.

 

This signing fits with what the Giants are likely to continue to pursue in free agency — young, healthy players with upside who they believe can fit well in their scheme.

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Joe Judge assembling unprecedented Giants coaching staff

April 12, 2021 | 5:51pm | Updated

 

 

If bigger is better, the Giants are going to be an exquisitely coached team this season.

Joe Judge has assembled the largest coaching staff in Giants franchise history and what, unofficially, is believed to be the largest football staff in the NFL heading into the 2021 season. Including Judge, there are 25 designated spots on this staff, and this does not include strength and conditioning personnel. Nor does it include Pat Flaherty, a former Giants offensive line coach, hired by Judge as a consultant.

In Judge’s first year, the Giants coaching staff consisted of 22 members. He added for this season one additional offensive quality control position, one additional defensive quality control position and a Chief of Staff.

By contrast, the Giants had an 18-man staff in 2019 under Pat Shurmur.

 

 

Around the league, the Buccaneers, 49ers, Jaguars and Jets have 24 filled positions on their coaching staffs. In the NFC East, the Eagles and Washington both are at 22 and the Cowboys are at 19. The smallest coaching staffs (18) in the NFL belong to the Vikings and Steelers. The Patriots list 20 on their coaching staff, but Bill Belichick is notorious for stashing untitled assistants.

For Judge this season, there are the three (offense, defense, special teams) coordinators. There are the standard five position coaches on offense and three on defense. There is one assistant position coach on offense (Ben Wilkerson, offensive line) and two on defense (Anthony Blevins, linebackers and special teams and Michael Treier, defensive backs). There are (and this is a bit unusual) two quality control coaches on offense and two more on defense. Often, teams have one quality control coach on each side of the ball.

It is no wonder Judge saw the need to create a new position — Chief of Staff — which he filled with Ryan Hollern.

Judge clearly prefers a big staff, and was given permission to add salaries to the budget, assuring ownership all the hires have legitimate responsibilities.

 

There is continuity, as Jason Garrett returns to run the offense and Thomas McGaughey is back as special teams coordinator. That Patrick Graham, who attracted some interest in this most recent head coaching hiring cycle, took his name off the candidate lists and is back as the defensive coordinator is a boon to Judge and the Giants.

Judge’s first season as a head coach included turbulence with the offensive line teaching, as Marc Colombo was fired after an ugly confrontation with Judge at the bye week. Judge brought in Dave DeGuglielmo to coach the offensive line for the final six games, but that was merely a temporary fix.

Judge knew finding a capable replacement was vital, as he has a young offensive line. He said he talked to “probably over 25 coaches personally, our staff researched an additional probably 15-20.’’ The winner of that search was Rob Sale, who has 14 years of college coaching experience but none at the NFL level.

What Sale does have is a résumé connection with Judge, and that is a strong indicator as to the Giants’ staff makeup. Sale’s coaching career started as a strength and conditioning assistant and offensive analyst at Alabama. It was in Tuscaloosa where he met Judge, a football analyst/special teams assistant from 2009-11.

There are nine assistants on Judge’s Giants staff linked to those three years at Alabama, working for Nick Saban.

On offense, in addition to Sale, Burton Burns (running backs), Russ Callaway (quality control), Nick Williams (quality control) and Jody Wright (general assistant) all crossed paths with Judge at Alabama. On defense, Carter Blount (quality control), Jeremy Pruitt (senior defensive assistant) and Kevin Sherrer (linebackers) were on Saban’s Alabama staff with Judge. Amos Jones, the special projects and situations assistant, was also with Judge at Alabama.

 

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There are other connections on Judge’s staff. Three of his assistants (Freddie Kitchens, Blevins, Hollern) were with Judge at Mississippi State, where Judge was a player and later a young member of the Bulldogs coaching staff. Two of Judge’s assistants (Graham and quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski) were with Judge on Bill Belichick’s Patriots staff.

And so, 14 of the 24 members of the staff have direct past ties to Judge. Williams actually has two ties to Judge. He was a wide receiver at Alabama when Judge was an assistant, at the same time Williams’ father, Bobby, was on Saban’s staff with Judge.

Kitchens, after an ill-fated and brief run as the Browns head coach, was bumped up by Judge, moving from tight ends coach to senior offensive assistant. “Helping bring together the game planning, like all of our coaches will, but working directly with Jason [Garrett] with some of the things that are going to happen up front,’’ Judge said. There is much work to be done. Judge will have plenty of help.

 
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