EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Giants head coach Joe Judge announced the composition of the team's 2020 coaching staff.
Judge's 20-member staff is comprised of nine coaches who arrived from other NFL teams, including two who were head coaches last season; five who spent the 2019 season coaching collegiate football; and six who were with the Giants last year.
The first-year head coach revealed his three coordinators on January 17. On offense, it is Jason Garrett, 53, who is very familiar with the NFC East after coaching the Dallas Cowboys from 2010-19. The defensive coordinator is Patrick Graham, 41, who held the same position with the Miami Dolphins last season. Graham will also serve as assistant head coach. Thomas McGaughey, 46, returns for his third season as special teams coordinator. He was previously a coordinator for three other teams and was the Giants' assistant special teams coach from 2007-10.
Ten offensive assistants will work under Judge and Garrett. They include Jerry Schuplinski (quarterbacks), who was the Dolphins' assistant quarterbacks coach in 2019; Burton Burns (running backs), who spent the last two years as assistant athletic director for football at the University of Alabama, where he served as the associate head coach and running backs coach from 2007-17; Tyke Tolbert (wide receivers), who has coached in the NFL for 16 seasons and has been with the Giants since 2018; Freddie Kitchens (tight ends), the Cleveland Browns' head coach last year; Marc Colombo (offensive line), who had worked with the Dallas offensive line under Garrett since 2015; Ben Wilkerson (assistant offensive line), who remains in the position he held the previous two years; Derek Dooley (senior offensive assistant), who was the University of Missouri's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the previous two seasons; Stephen Brown (offensive assistant), who had the same title the last four years in Dallas; and Bobby Blick (offensive quality control), who was a Giants defensive assistant from 2017-19.
Asked about the expertise Garrett and Kitchens bring as former NFL head coaches, Judge said, "Everybody brings a different type of experience to the job. I didn't set out to hire anyone with former head coaching experience. That ended up being a plus of what different guys brought to their area."
Graham will have seven assistants working with him on the defensive side. The group is staffed by Sean Spencer (defensive line), who held the same position at Penn State from 2014-19, and added the duties of defensive run game coordinator the last four years, as well as serving the past two seasons as associate head coach; Kevin Sherrer (inside linebackers), who held the same position the previous two seasons at the University of Tennessee, where he was also defensive coordinator in 2018 and special teams coordinator last year; Bret Bielema (outside linebackers/senior assistant), a former head coach at Wisconsin and Arkansas who was the New England Patriots' defensive line coach last season, his second with the team; Jerome Henderson (defensive backs), who was the Atlanta Falcons' defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach the last four seasons; Anthony Blevins (assistant defensive backs), who was McGaughey's special teams assistant in 2018-19; Jody Wright (defensive assistant), an offensive assistant under Kitchens in Cleveland last season after coaching on the collegiate level for 14 years; and Mike Treier (defensive quality control), who spent the previous five seasons at Marshall University.
McGaughey will be assisted for a third consecutive season by his predecessor, Tom Quinn, who was the Giants' special teams coordinator from 2007-17.
Graham, Schuplinski, Burns, Bielema, Sherrer and Wright all previously coached with Judge.
Kitchens was the Mississippi State running backs coach in 2004, when Judge was a senior quarterback/special teamer.
Colombo, Dooley and Brown worked with Garrett in Dallas.
"The first thing I was prioritizing was good coaches who had a deep concern for the players that they were going to coach," Judge said. "It has to start with the relationship from the coach to the player and understanding that we're working together. Next thing I was prioritizing was good teachers. We had to find guys who can paint that mental picture for a player and find a way to tap into how they learn and get the most out of them. To me, it's a big trust factor with the guys I have on the staff. I have a personal relationship with a lot of these guys, professional relationships with nearly all of them. Guys who I have not worked with directly, I've competed against, I've known for some time. I've more than done my research on everybody on this staff, including the guys I've worked with. No stone has been unturned. I'm very excited about the group we have in here. I know they're going to bring a lot to this organization. I know they're going to be a great asset to the players they're going to coach."
A closer look at the assistant coaches announced today:
Schuplinski, 42, entered the NFL with the Patriots in 2013. He was a coaching assistant for three seasons before beginning a three-year stint as the team's assistant quarterbacks coach. New England won three Super Bowls in Schuplinski's six seasons with the team. In 2019, Schuplinski moved to Miami and helped the Dolphins finish 12th in the NFL with 237.8 passing yards a game.
"Jerry is an incredible teacher," said Judge. "He has done a phenomenal job of developing young quarterbacks in this league. He simplifies the game so the quarterback can play fast in terms of understanding our scheme and analyzing the opponent's defense."
Burns, 67, spent 13 seasons with the Alabama football program, including 11 as the associate head coach and running backs coach and the last two as assistant athletics director for football. He was regarded as one of the nation's finest running backs coach during his 20 seasons as a college assistant. Burns coached two Heisman Trophy winners with the Crimson Tide, Mark Ingram in 2009 and Derrick Henry in 2015, plus finalist Trent Richardson in 2011. Prior to his tenure at Alabama, Burns coached running backs at Clemson for eight seasons and before that at Tulane for four years.
"I've worked with Burton, so I knew first-hand the impact he has on the players he coaches," Judge said. "He's coached a number of great backs, he's coached on a lot of championship teams, and he knows how to get the most out of his players. He's tough. That's one thing you're going to find out about Burton right away. He's tough. He's hardnosed, he coaches tough, he demands his players to play tough. But he has as deep a care for the players he coaches as anybody out there. They respond to him because they know he's in a foxhole with them.
"I'm excited to have Burton here, very excited to have Burton here. I know he's looking forward to working with the guys on the roster."
Tolbert, 52, joined the Giants in 2018 and in two seasons coached Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Odell Beckham, Jr. and was instrumental in developing Darius Slayton, a fifth-round draft choice who tied for the NFL rookie lead with eight touchdown receptions last season. Before joining the Giants, Tolbert coached wide receivers for the Arizona Cardinals (2003), Buffalo Bills (2004-10), Carolina Panthers (2010) and Denver Broncos (2011-17).
"Tyke's a guy I knew throughout the league from going against him," Judge said. "He's a guy that came recommended by a lot of people that I know very personally. But ultimately, the deciding factor on Tyke is you turn his tape on, and his guys play hard, they play fundamentally sound, he's been able to develop a number of receivers in different systems, and ultimately, the video tapes are what tells you how a guy is coaching."
Kitchens, 45, spent the last two years in Cleveland, the first as running backs coach/associate head coach for the first eight games and offensive coordinator for the final eight before his season as head coach. He previously coached in Dallas (tight ends, 2006) and Arizona (tight ends, 2007-12; quarterbacks, 2013-16; and running backs in 2017).
"I think any position on offense is good for Freddie," Judge said. "He's got a lot of experience at different positions. He's been head coach, he's been a coordinator, he's been a position coach. He sees it through a lot of different perspectives. What I love about Freddie is he brings an element of toughness and discipline to his room. He brings outside the box thinking a lot of times to how he approaches the game from a game plan perspective. I think he'll be an asset to working with our offensive coaches and developing the game plan throughout the week. But ultimately, I've worked with Freddie, I've played for Freddie, and I've called against Freddie, and I understand what his players are about."
Colombo, 41, was a first-round draft choice in 2002 who played tackle for the Chicago Bears (2002-05), Dallas (2005-10) and Miami (2011). He began his coaching career as an offensive assistant in 2015. He was named assistant line coach the following year and was promoted to offensive line coach during the team's bye week in 2018. Under Colombo, tackle Tyron Smith, guard Zack Martin and center Travis Frederick were among the very best players at their positions in the NFL.
"Continuity is very important, especially between the offensive coordinator and the offensive line coach, that they can be on the same page starting out," Judge said. "One of the challenges of a new staff is getting on the same page and working through some of the differences that maybe we've had from past experiences but making sure we're working to one goal. I'd say with Marc, the deciding factor wasn't his past experience with Jason. The deciding factor was he's a tremendous coach. His body of work as you turn on the tape and watch how his guys play with technique, execution and toughness is ultimately what the deciding factor was."
Wilkerson, 37, is entering his sixth season as an NFL coach and third as the Giants' assistant O-line coach. Prior to joining the Giants, Wilkerson spent three seasons as the Chicago Bears' assistant offensive line coach. He had five years coaching experience at the collegiate and high school levels, as well as three years playing in the NFL.
Dooley, 51, engineered a significant turnaround of Missouri's offense in his first season as coordinator in 2018. The Tigers were 13th nationally (third in the SEC) in total offense (481.8 avg.), 18th nationally (third in the SEC) in scoring (36.6 avg.) and 18th nationally (third in the SEC) in third down conversions (46.4%). Dooley was the Cowboy's wide receivers coach under Garrett from 2013-17, when Dez Bryant was selected to three Pro Bowls. He also worked with Garrett on the Miami Dolphins staff under Nick Saban in 2005-06. Dooley was the head coach at Louisiana Tech from 2007-09 and Tennessee from 2010-12.
Brown, 32, worked the previous four seasons in Dallas as an offensive assistant/running backs, helping coach Gary Brown and the backs in the coordination of the running game while also serving as a point person for Garrett on research projects and day-to-day operations.
Blick, 35, assisted defensive coordinators Steve Spagnuolo and James Bettcher the last three years and now moves to the offense as quality control coach under Garrett.
Spencer, 49, has been a collegiate defensive line coach for 20 years, including the previous six seasons at Penn State, where he was also associate head coach the past two years. Under Spencer, the Nittany Lions' line was traditionally one of the nation's best. In 2019, Penn State had 45 sacks, which was the seventh-highest total in the country. The previous year, they led the nation with 47 and they were also No. 1 in 2015 with 50. Penn State posted five consecutive 40-sack seasons from 2015-19.
"I've known Sean through the business," Judge said. "The most impressive thing about Sean is the players he's developed through his time at both Vanderbilt (2011-13) and Penn State, among other stops in his career. Sean has a great energy about him, he has great command within a room, his players respond to him, they play hard and they play fundamentally sound."
Sherrer, 46, coached at three Southeastern Conference schools – Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee – as well as South Alabama. He was the Crimson Tide's director of player development from 2010-12, working with Judge the first two years. He moved to South Alabama in 2013 as the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach, to Georgia as the outside linebackers coach from 2014-17 and then to Tennessee.
"Kevin is just an old ball coach," Judge said. "When I met Kevin, he was coaching at Hoover High School in Alabama. The next year, he was on the staff with us at Alabama. I've watched him progress through his career as defensive coordinator at South Alabama, his time in Georgia, his time in Tennessee. I think Kevin is a phenomenal football coach, and he coaches from the ground up with fundamentals, his players play sound and they play hard."
Bielema, 50, joined the Patriots as a consultant to head coach Bill Belichick in 2018. He coached the defensive line in 2019, when New England's defense was ranked first in the NFL overall (allowing 275.9 yards a game) and sixth against the run (95.5). Bielema coached in the collegiate ranks for 24 years, starting in 1994 at his alma mater, Iowa, before moving to Kansas State and Wisconsin, where he was Big Ten Coach of the Year as a first-time head coach in 2006, and then to Arkansas in 2013.
"There's a lot of things (to like) about Bret," Judge said. "I think Bret brings a great personality to the group, brings a great perspective on how he sees the game, he's coached the front for some time, he's coordinated defenses at a high level. Players respond to Bret in a positive way. He has a great way of teaching, he has a great way of getting the guys motivated, and he gets the most out of his players. He brings experience from the NFL, as well as college, so not only does he understand what's going on in the league now, he understands what the players coming from college are used to and how to better translate the trends they're going to see."
View photos of the 2020 New York Giants coaching staff
Henderson, 50, is beginning his 14th year as an NFL coach. He began with the Jets in 2007 as the assistant defensive backs coach/director of player development. He was the defensive backs coach with the Jets in 2008, the Browns from 2009-11, the Cowboys from 2012-15 and in 2016 he joined the Falcons as passing game coordinator and secondary coach. Henderson had an eight-year career as an NFL defensive back with New England (1991-93, 1996), Buffalo (1993-94), Philadelphia (1995) and the Jets (1997-98). He played in 98 games with 34 starts and recorded nine career interceptions. Henderson played in Super Bowl XXVIII with the Bills and Super Bowl XXXI as a member of the Patriots.
"Jerome has a great resume, he's coached a lot of good players in a lot of good schemes," Judge said. "I think the more you check around with Jerome, I talked to guys that he coached, the way they responded to him and the way they respected him in the room definitely said a lot about him as a coach."
Blevins, 43, moves to the secondary after serving as a special teams assistant with Arizona from 2013-17 and the Giants the last two seasons. From 2008-12, he was a defensive backs coach at Tennessee-Martin, Tennessee State and Alabama-Birmingham.
"I've known Blev for some time now, and he's coached on all three sides of the ball," Judge said. "He brings great experience that he can contribute to a lot of different parts of developing players. One thing you learn working with the special teams is you're learning how to develop techniques of a total player. He could easily have gone over to the offense and worked with a skilled position. He could have stayed on special teams and have been an asset. We thought right now, the best fit for Blev was to help with our defense and bring some experience he brought from the other sides of the ball and work with Jerome."
Wright, 39, was an offensive assistant under Kitchens last season in Cleveland. He was on the staff at Alabama-Birmingham from 2014-18, where he was the assistant head coach and offensive line coach in his final season. Wright was an offensive analyst at Alabama in 2011-12 and overlapped with Judge in his first season there.
Treier, 29, coached Marshall's defensive backs in 2018 after serving as the defensive analyst the previous year. Last season, he coached the safeties and added recruiting coordinator to his duties. Trier joined the Thundering Herd after he was the defensive coordinator at Tennessee-Martin in 2016.
McGaughey and Quinn have coached special teams in the NFL for a combined 24 years.
"The experience is important, but the success is more important," Judge said. "They've been doing it at a high success rate for a long time. The fact that they had a relationship working together already, I had a relationship with both guys from going against them and have known them within the profession for some time now. T-Mac and Tom do a tremendous job. I love the way they relate to the players, I love the way they coach their guys. You know when you go against their units that they're going to be sound and they're going to play hard, and that's critical. I have a lot of respect for both of them."
Giants 2020 Coaching Staff
Head Coach Joe Judge
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
QB Coach Jerry Schuplinski
RB Coach Burton Burns
TE Coach Freddie Kitchens
WR Coach Tyke Tolbert
OL Coach Marc Colombo
Asst. OL Coach Ben Wilkerson
Senior Offensive Assistant Derek Dooley
Offensive Assistant Stephen Brown
Offensive Quality Control Bobby Blick
Def. Coord./Asst. HC Patrick Graham
DL Coach Sean Spencer
ILB Coach Kevin Sherrer
OLB Coach/Senior Assistant Bret Bielema
DB Coach Jerome Henderson
Asst. DB Coach Anthony Blevins
Defensive Assistant Jody Wright
Defensive Quality Control Mike Treier
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Asst. ST Coach Tom Quinn