The New York Giants threw everyone a curveball in hiring their 21st head coach in franchise history Monday and going with Joe Judge. With the Redskins hiring Ron Rivera and the Cowboys hiring Mike McCarthy, Judge will be the third new coach in the NFC East for the 2020 season and beyond, replacing the fired Pat Shurmur.
Judge was a sneaky-good, under-the-radar candidate and a worthy hire over Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and others. Here are five fast facts about the coach the Giants are getting to lead a promising young team with quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley.
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Joe Judge was in line to be Bill Belichick's successor with the Patriots.
Judge, who turned 38 on New Year's Eve, had worked for New England since 2012, starting as a special teams assistant before becoming special teams coordinator and eventually also the team's wide receivers coach in 2019. Much like recent Patriots coordinators who took head-coaching jobs elsewhere, the Lions' Matt Patricia and the Dolphins' Brian Flores, he quickly became one of Belichick's prized pupils.
The Patriots had a good year defensively for much of the season, but their special teams, despite a revolving door of kickers, made a ton of big plays to lift the struggling offense. Judge also did well with a limited wideout corps during the season.
The Mississippi State alum and Philadelphia native has a lot of good experience and was slowly being groomed to take over Belichick in a few seasons. Judge won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, but those weren't his only championships.
Joe Judge got his big coaching break with Nick Saban at Alabama.
Judge got noticed for his linebacker coaching at tiny Birmingham-Southern to land his first special teams assistant job with the Crimson Tide, working under Belichick's close confidant, Saban, from 2009-11.
Alabama won two national titles while Judge was on staff.
Joe Judge comes from a very athletic family.
Judge played at Mississippi State, where his wife Amber was a star soccer player. His father Joseph went from Temple to play with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. His uncles Kerry Judge and Jerry Judge were boxers.
Jerry Judge once fought (and lost to) George Foreman in Toronto in 1975.
Joe Judge is the second coach in the NFL to go from special teams to head coaching.
The other is the Ravens' John Harbaugh, who has been highly successful and is and looking for a second Super Bowl ring this year.
Harbaugh, Belichick, Bill Cowher, Dick Vermeil and Mike Ditka are the most notable coaches with special teams backgrounds who have won Super Bowls.
Joe Judge is not related to Yankees slugger Aaron Judge.
Just in case you're wondering, here's the definitive answer.
But given it usually goes Yankees-Giants and Mets-Jets, a lot of New York fans will be rooting for two Judges to deliver a verdict of winning championships.