Joe Judge assembling unprecedented Giants coaching staff

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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.

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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