In a perfect Joe Judge world, there would not have been any headlines about the tweak he planned to make to the coaching staff. Perhaps at the bottom of an article about some other subject, there would have been a note preceded by three dots and, more importantly, finished off with one:
. . . The Giants hired Dave DeGuglielmo as an offensive consultant.
One sentence. End of story.
Former Giants offensive line coach Marc Colombo, though, made that an impossibility. According to reports by Newsday and others, he went ballistic over the idea of a rival offensive line coach looking over his shoulder, had enough of Judge meddling in his work and was fired from his position on the staff last Wednesday after a verbal showdown with Judge the night before. DeGuglielmo wound up being hired to replace Colombo rather than help him.
It became a national story. And because the Giants were on a bye, it was one largely unattended by Judge with on-the-record statements.
Until Monday, six days after the bubbling brouhaha reached its pinnacle, when Judge spoke on the matter for the first time.
"I’m always going to make every decision on what I see is best for the team, and this decision is no different," he said. "Look, there has been a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation, and a lot of people who have done a lot of digging trying to find out the details of the situation. I’m not going to rehash any of that. I just say we wish Marc the best going forward and the decision we made was in the best interest of the Giants, short and long term."
Judge said he does not expect the change on his staff to drastically alter the way the Giants’ offensive line plays, which lately has been not so badly.
"We’re not going to do anything to turn the offense upside-down here," he said. "With six weeks left in the season, there is going to be a lot of continuity we’ll be looking to keep. We want players to keep improving. Will there be adjustments as needed throughout the season? Yes. Are we going to look to turn everyone upside down? No."
Still, the move sent ripples throughout the organization. Judge said he spoke with individuals and groups of players about the decisions that were made regarding Colombo. It wasn’t until Monday, though, that everyone returned from the bye.
"It was definitely a shock," defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. "I don’t care what type of job you have; if anyone gets fired, it will be a shock to anyone else in the workplace."
Added tight end Evan Engram: "I know me personally and a lot of guys loved working with Coach Colombo and we obviously wish him the best, but that’s the thing with Coach Judge: His best interest is always with the team."
Judge said that as a head coach, he’s never had, nor will he have, a problem stepping over a position coach to have techniques or philosophies taught the way he wants. He also said his situation with Colombo does not affect his relationship with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who is close with Colombo and whose recommendation was a big reason Judge picked Colombo over DeGuglielmo when he first hired his staff earlier this year.
"We’re all professionals here," Judge said. "I feel good about going forward with everybody."
Judge said DeGuglielmo brings experience and has a history of working with players and other coaches who are with the Giants. He also has that shared lineage of having worked with the Patriots and other Bill Belichick disciples, most recently Brian Flores in Miami last season.
"There is a level of experience that carries over, and that’s great, but all that really matters now is how he coaches now that he is with the New York Giants," Judge said of DeGuglielmo. "Excited to have him on staff with us moving forward."
And that’s where this story goes now. Forward. The Giants are in the midst of their preparations for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati and a six-game stretch to end the regular season as they try to stay in contention for the NFC East title.
"I have been around teams, as a player and as a coach, where there have been transitions in season," Judge said. "I think the biggest thing everyone has to understand is that they just keep on moving within the direction of the head coach and trust that there is a plan in place."