EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Judge today announced several additions and changes to his staff as he prepares for his second season as the Giants' head coach.
On offense, Rob Sale is the new offensive line coach. Former Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty has joined the staff as a consultant. Freddie Kitchens and Derek Dooley have switched positions, with the former going from tight ends coach to senior offensive assistant and the latter now coaching the tight ends.
Jeremy Pruitt is the Giants' new senior defensive assistant.
Sale, 41, has 14 years of collegiate coaching experience and spent the previous three seasons as the offensive coordinator and line coach at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 2020, the Ragin' Cajuns ranked third in the Sun Belt Conference with an average of 33.6 points-per-game. They were fifth with 421.5 yards a game, fourth in rushing with 213.0 yards a game and tied for third with 6.3 yards a play.
Sale began his college coaching career as a strength and conditioning assistant and offensive analyst from 2007-11 at Alabama. It was there he met Judge, who was a football analyst/special teams assistant for the final three of those seasons.
"I've known Rob for some time now, I've worked with him, I've stayed in very close contact with Rob over the years," Judge said on a videocall with Giants reporters, his first since Jan. 4, the day after the 2020 season ended. "He's someone who's always impressed me as a very thorough teacher, as a very detailed and energetic on-the-field coach and he's someone who has a very strong relationship with his players. I thought he was a good fit. We made sure to do our due diligence - I talked to probably over 25 coaches personally, our staff researched an additional probably 15-20, we had several interviews in person and countless interviews over Zoom. I would say that they all did a good job and there were a lot of qualified candidates. At the end of the day, the best move for the New York Giants was adding Rob and I'm excited to add him to our staff."
With the offense leading the way, Louisiana was ranked as high as 16th in the country and finished 10-1, including 7-1 in the Sun Belt, losing only to undefeated Coastal Carolina.
Two of Louisiana's players were among the conference's top five rushers: First-team all-conference Elijah Mitchell was second in the league with 878 rushing yards (87.8 a game) and third with 6.2 yards a carry; Trey Ragas was fifth with 758 yards (75.8 a game) and fourth with 5.8 yards an attempt. Three of Sale's linemen - O'Cyrus Torrence, Ken Marks and Shane Vallot - were second or third-team all-conference.
Before his three-year stint at Louisiana, Sale was the offensive line coach and running game coordinator at Arizona State (2017) and offensive line coach at Louisiana-Monroe (2016) and Georgia (2015). In 2012-13, he was McNeese State's offensive line coach and in 2014 he was also the co-offensive coordinator.
Flaherty has 40 years of coaching experience, including 20 in the NFL. He coached the Giants' offensive line from 2004-15, Tom Coughlin's entire tenure as head coach. Flaherty developed the linemen who helped the Giants win Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, including four-time Pro Bowler Chris Snee, David Diehl, Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert, Kareem McKenzie, Kevin Boothe and David Baas. He was later the offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
"(Flaherty is) going to work in a consultant role with both the offensive and defensive staffs," Judge said. "He's going to have responsibilities on both ends. Obviously, Pat's specialty being an offensive line coach in this league for a long time, a tight ends coach, is really dealing specifically with the front. I'm excited to have Pat here.
"Part of the strength is we've got two young offensive line coaches with Rob Sale and (assistant) Ben Wilkerson, and Pat's a good sounding board for those guys to have. He's also someone who can do some extra leg work for us and really break down opponents of what they're doing, as well as share with our defensive staff maybe how some different offenses are running and give (defensive coordinator] Patrick Graham a different perspective on what he's seeing on tape."
Kitchens and Dooley each joined the Giants' staff in 2020.
Under Kitchens, Evan Engram became the first Giants tight end selected to the Pro Bowl since Jeremy Shockey in 2006. Engram played all 16 games for the first time in his four-year career and started a career-high 14 games. He was second on the Giants with 63 receptions, for 654 yards. He also had six rushing attempts for 26 yards.
When Kitchens was Cleveland's head coach in 2019, the Browns' offensive skill players were among the most productive in the NFL. With wide receivers Jarvis Landry (83 catches for 1,174 yards and six touchdowns) and Odell Beckham, Jr. (74 receptions for 1,035 yards and three scores), the Browns were one of six teams with two 1,000-yard receivers. Nick Chubb finished second in the NFL with 1,494 rushing yards. Cleveland was the only AFC team and joined Carolina and Dallas as the only teams with two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher (Christian McCaffrey was both for the Panthers).
A 22-year coaching veteran, Kitchens entered the NFL as the Dallas Cowboys' tight ends coach in 2006. The following year, he began an 11-year stint on the Arizona Cardinals' staff before moving to Cleveland in 2018.
"His primary responsibility is going to be working with the front," Judge said. "Freddie has coached quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, has worked hand in hand with the offensive line. Again, tying into having two young offensive line coaches with Rob and Ben, I think Freddie is going to be an asset up front working directly with them and helping bring together the game planning, like all of our coaches will, but working directly with (offensive coordinator) Jason (Garrett) with some of the things that are going to happen up front."
Dooley, a 26-year coaching veteran, is entering his second season on Judge's staff. Before joining the Giants, he spent two years as the University of Missouri's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Dooley was the Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers coach under Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett from 2013-17 and he 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.
"Derek Dooley did a great job for us last year as a senior offensive assistant," Judge said. "Really did a nice job preparing for opponents, running our scout teams and breaking down what we're doing. We wanted to get him into a room, get him some guys. … Derek's a guy who's got coordinating experience, he's coached multiple positions, he's been a head coach, he sees things through a big lens and really sees a big picture at the end of the tunnel, which is important for us, so he'll be our tight ends coach."
Pruitt, 46, is also a former head coach at Tennessee, where he was 16-19 from 2018-20. Prior to leading the Volunteers, he was the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Florida State (2013) and Georgia (2014-15) and the coordinator and inside linebackers coach at Alabama (2016-17).
Pruitt's initial stint with the Crimson Tide was from 2007-12, where he first worked with Judge and was director of player development and then defensive backs coach for three years each.
"Jeremy's going to work with all levels of the defense, the back end, the linebackers and the front," Judge said. "Jeremy's another guy that I've worked with in the past, I've kept in very close contact. Jeremy's a guy that's coached on all levels, high school, college and now the NFL, and he's always impressed me as somebody who's been able to connect with every player on the field regardless of how they came up, where they're from geographically - doesn't matter, Jeremy just has a good knack of connecting with everyone. He's one of the best teachers I've ever been around and it's been fun to have him in the building and talking ball. I think he's going to help our staff as far as bringing some new ideas and different ways of running our current schemes.
"One thing you're seeing in the league right now is there are a lot of college schemes that are trickling up to the NFL based on the players and their skillsets and what they're accustomed to doing. Having guys like Jeremy, (inside linebackers coach) Kevin Sherrer and (defensive line coach) Sean Spencer give you a little bit of an avenue of looking into ways they've handled similar things in the college game and being able to do it within our own schemes, so it's something that should help us right there."