The Giants formally announced Joe Judge's full coaching staff on Wednesday, and the list features some intriguing names. Here are some takeaways:
Head coach experience
The 38-year old Judge, a first-time head coach, has included four coaches on his staff with head coaching experience.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett spent over nine seasons as the Dallas Cowboys' head coach, earning an 85-67 record and winning three NFC East titles. Outside linebackers coach/senior assistant Bret Bielema has 12 years of head coaching experience, going 97-58 during his time at Wisconsin and Arkansas. Additionally, tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens led the Cleveland Browns last season, while senior offensive assistant Derek Dooley was head coach at Louisiana Tech from 2007-2009 and Tennessee from 2010-2012.
"Everybody brings a different type of experience to the job," Judge said. "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."
A few familiar faces
While most of the 2020 coaching staff are new to the organization, Judge hired a few members from last year's staff. Starting on offense, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert will return in the same position. The 52-year-old played a big role in the development of Darius Slayton, who caught 48 passes for 740 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season. Additionally, assistant offensive line coach Ben Wilkerson continues in the same role he has had the last two seasons.
Anthony Blevins, who served as an assistant special teams coach the past two seasons, is the assistant defensive backs coach. He spent five seasons as a cornerbacks coach between the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Tennessee State.
Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey and assistant special teams coach Tom Quinn are both back in those roles. The Giants' special teams have been very good under McGaughey, who became coordinator in 2018 after succeeding Quinn. In 2019, the Giants finished first in the NFL in kickoff return yards (1,153), fourth in punt return average (9.8), fifth in punt return yards (274) and 10th in kickoff return average (23.5), while ranking first in opponent kickoff return average (18.1) and fifth in opponent punt return average (5.7).
"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 lot has been made about Judge's experience working under Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, and there are other members of his staff who have worked with the two legendary coaches. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham was on Belichick's staff from 2009-2015, while quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski worked in New England from 2013-2018. Additionally, Bielema spent the last two seasons as an assistant to Belichick.
Running backs coach Burton Burns spent over a decade with Saban and the Crimson Tide, serving as running backs coach from 2007-2017 before becoming the assistant athletics director for football the last two seasons. Inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer was Alabama's director of player development from 2010-2012, while defensive assistant Jody Wright was a graduate assistant/offensive analyst under Saban from 2010-2012 and director of player personnel from 2015-2017. Wilkerson played for Saban at LSU from 2001 to 2004.
RB coach should help Saquon
During his decade working as the running backs coach under Saban, Burns helped develop two Heisman Trophy winners in Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry, both of whom are enjoying successful NFL careers. Following the report of Burns hiring, Ingram took to social media to call him "the best coach" he ever played for.
The Ravens running back is confident that the 67-year-old coach will do wonders for Saquon Barkley's development. "Saquon is elite, and I think he's going to be trying to add value to Saquon," Ingram told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post on Radio Row from Super Bowl LIV last week. "Obviously Saquon is special, and I think Coach Burns will give him tools that will help him be even more special. ... Man, he's just getting a coach who loves his players, who was very knowledgeable about the game of football, who understands the running back position, understands running backs' eyes and knows how to teach running backs how to be an elite running back. He's a great coach, great father figure and an asset to any organization because of the person he is."
"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."
Schuplinksi earns strong reviews: The QB coach has received high praise from several of the quarterbacks he has worked with over the last few years. The 49ers Jimmy Garoppolo complimented Schuplinski, who he spent over three seasons with in New England, telling Tom Rock of Newsday, "Thinking back on everything, I owe him so much." Colts QB Jacoby Brissett, who played for Schuplinski in 2016, has said several times that the QB coach is "definitely one of my favorite coaches I've ever had." Last season, Schuplinski served as the QB coach in Miami where he left a lasting impression on 15-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"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."
Colombo had tremendous success in Dallas: Marc Colombo was an offensive lineman in the NFL for nine years before retiring following the 2011 season. He began his coaching career in 2016 as the Cowboys' assistant OL coach before taking over the position full-time in 2018. Last season, Dallas' offensive line earned the fourth-highest grade from Pro Football Focus, as Ezekiel Elliott ran for over 1,350 yards for the second consecutive year. Dallas' offensive line has been the foundation of the team's offensive success the past few years.
"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."
Sherrer worked with Carter at Georgia: While Sherrer will coach the inside linebackers for the Giants, the assistant coach has ties to one of the team's young edge rushers. Sherrer was the outside linebackers coach at Georgia from 2014-2017, the same four-year span that Lorenzo Carter played for the Bulldogs. Carter racked up 14.0 sacks and six forced fumbles during his collegiate career and is one of three NFL linebackers who played under Sherrer at Georgia and wound up being selected in the draft (Bears OLB Leonard Floyd, Jets OLB Jordan Jenkins).
"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."
Spencer to bring chaos to d-line: Sean Spencer served as Penn State's defensive line coach from 2014-2019. Nicknamed "Coach Chaos," Spencer developed several Nittany Lions into NFL draft picks. Buccaneers edge rusher Carl Nassib set the Penn State single-season record with 15.5 sacks in 2015, which led to him being selected in the third round in 2016. Titans DL Austin Johnson (2016 second-round pick), 49ers DL Anthony Zettel (2016 sixth-round pick) and Eagles DL Shareef Miller (2019 fourth-round pick) join Nassib as the former Penn State linemen who were selected in the draft after working with Spencer collegiately.
"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."