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Dave Gettleman's last move his most costly to Joe Judge

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge, general

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge, general manager Dave Gettleman and tight end Kelvin Benjamin talk on the field during Giants training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Dave Gettleman had one last maneuver to doom Joe Judge’s tenure with the Giants: Retirement.

The former general manager certainly didn’t do the former head coach any favors in assembling a thin roster that could not compete once a rash of injuries took place. There were lots of questionable additions and inactions over their two years of working together that made it more difficult for the on-field product to find any success. Judge certainly played a role in personnel, but ultimately those calls were Gettleman’s.

But the final move that eventually led to Judge’s firing earlier this week was Gettleman’s own departure. No one believes it was a true retirement unprompted by ownership, but his cumulative failures over four years led to him leaving and the necessity of bringing in a new general manager.

That, co-owner John Mara said on Wednesday, was a really big reason why he made the call he did on Judge.

"I still think there is a really good head coach inside Joe Judge," Mara said. "I just felt like given where we are right now on the verge of bringing in a new general manager, we have to give that person the flexibility to bring in the head coach that he wants. That was a large part of the decision here in making a change."

In other words, if there had been a smoother transfer of power at the top of the organization with an eventual handoff to assistant Kevin Abrams as was likely envisioned by nearly everyone in the building until very recently, if Gettleman had been able to put a slightly better product on the field that did not necessitate Mara’s conclusion that he needed to "completely blow it up and start all over again with a new general manager and head coach," Judge would probably still have a job even with his 10-23 record.

It became impossible to adequately interview general manager candidates from outside the organization with Judge looming over the process. He became the flotsam to Gettleman’s sinking.

"I just felt like given where we are at the moment — and certainly, certainly that is not all due to him — given where we are right now, I felt like we needed a clean sweep," Mara said of Judge.

Mara so wanted Judge to be the right guy for the job from the day he hired him to, it seems, the day he fired him.

Mara said there was not one moment or incident that made up his mind regarding Judge, though he did say he "obviously wasn’t thrilled" by the former head coach’s 11-minute postgame rant to the media in Chicago and that he found the two quarterback sneaks from deep in Giants territory in Week 18 to be "a bit of a surprise."

"I can’t say there was one specific act that was the last straw," he said. "It was just the culmination of things."

Judge obviously did himself no favors over the final weeks of his tenure.

Gettleman, though, did much worse by him. Right to the very end.

New York Sports