The Giants and representatives for Judge reached a contract agreement Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the 38-year-old was offered the job and asked to turn around a franchise that has made the playoffs once since winning the Super Bowl in February 2012.
Judge succeeds Pat Shurmur, who was fired a week ago Monday after winning nine games in two seasons.
The decision was surprising because Judge was not considered a favorite for the job. He was impressive in his interview on Monday.
However, it also seems the Giants settled on Judge.
Two men considered to be front-runners for top job opted to coach other teams.
Former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl and went to the playoffs nine times in 12-plus seasons, accepted the Dallas Cowboys‘ job. He interviewed with the Giants last week.
Baylor coach Matt Rhule, a former Giants assistant, was hired by the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday, the day he was supposed to interview with New York. The planned meeting never happened.
Before the coaching search started last week, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch had said they wanted to hire a leader.
Judge has never led an NFL team. He has worked for two of the top head coaches in football — Bill Belichick of the Patriots and Nick Saban of Alabama.
Judge has won three Super Bowls (2014, ’16 and ’18 seasons) with New England in eight years as an assistant on Belichick’s staff.
Before joining the Patriots, he spent three years working for Saban. The former Mississippi State player won titles with the Crimson Tide in the 2009 and ’11 seasons. He also coached at Mississippi State and Birmingham-Southern.
With Judge as special teams coordinator since 2015, New England consistently ranked as one of the NFL’s top units. He added receivers to his responsibilities in 2019. He coached kicker Stephen Gostkowski to the All-Pro team in 2015 and special teams captain Matt Slater to the same honor in 2016 and this season.
He will also have to develop a young defense that was ranked among the worst in the league the past two seasons.
Judge will be the Giants’ fourth coach since Tom Coughlin left after the 2015 season. Ben McAdoo was hired in 2016 and made the playoffs. He was fired in early December 2017 with the team en route to a 3-13 mark. Steve Spagnuolo served as the interim coach for the final month. Shurmur was hired in January 2018.
The Giants interviewed five candidates for their head coaching job. Others interviewed were Kris Richard, the Dallas defensive assistant coach and former Seattle defensive coordinator; Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy; and Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale. They had also scheduled interviews with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and former Dallas coach Jason Garrett later this week.
Garrett, whose contract with the Cowboys expires next week, might be considered a possible candidate for offensive coordinator. He could work with Jones and offer Judge insight into being a head coach.
While relatively young, Judge will not be either the youngest coach in Giants’ history or the current youngest in the NFL. Sean McVay of the Rams is 33.
Benny Friedman was 25 years old when he was the Giants co-coach with Steve Owen for the final two games of the 1930 season. Owen was 32 that season. He became the head coach in 1931 and held the job until 1953.