Things have turned on Joe Judge and it'll be up...

Things have turned on Joe Judge and it'll be up to John Mara to make a decision on the coach's future. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Joe Judge was asked a very simple question and gave a long, dense, passionate answer that created quite a bit of stir and seemed to symbolize his tenure with the Giants.

And the fans ate it up.

This was a year ago, on Jan. 4, 2021, the day after his team was eliminated from postseason contention by the final result of the regular season. The topics back then, of course, were Doug Pederson, Nate Sudfeld, and the approach the Eagles took in the second half of their game against Washington. Judge was critical of their tactics, the result of which led to Pederson’s eventual firing as well as the immediate end of the Giants’ season.

"We will never do that as long as I am the head coach of the New York Giants," he vowed.

It sure seemed like that time frame would last a very long time.

But now here we are, almost exactly one lap around the sun later, and Judge has again delivered a defining diatribe that is causing ripples. This time, though, it was not met with enthusiasm and excitement. It did not unite the team and the fan base against a common enemy. Instead, his 11-minute oration on the culture of the Giants in the face of on-field results may very well stand as the unofficial eulogy to his tenure here.

There has yet to be any indication John Mara will cave on his promise in January 2020 — almost exactly two years ago! — to show Judge more patience than he did his two predecessors, neither of whom lasted beyond two seasons. There remains a good chance Judge is back with the Giants in 2022 despite the erosion of public faith in his long-term plan to return the franchise to a state of regular competitiveness and championship contention. Then again, Mara may also have seen and heard enough to move on and bring in someone new. The customers aren’t always right, but they are certainly always heard.

However things play out in the coming weeks, the most fascinating aspect of Judge’s status isn’t that his coaching career is teetering on such a thin fulcrum. Coaches come and go. Often it’s their fault, usually it’s a combination of issues. What makes this collapse of confidence so stunning is how quickly it all turned on Judge.

Forget about last year at this time. When this season began in September there were very few things the Giants were certain about. They thought they had a good quarterback, they hoped their running back could return to full health, they assumed they’d have a solid young offensive line, and they planned on their offensive playmakers making a big difference, but none of those were ironclad beliefs. They had to play out. There was even a make-or-breakness to how they viewed their general manager when 2021 began.

The one thing they and their fans seemed to know for sure was that they had the right guy in charge of the squad with Judge leading the team. Six wins was the baby step in 2020 with large bounds sure to follow.

Thirteen losses later and even that core belief has been shaken, perhaps not inside the highest levels of the organization but certainly everywhere else.

Judge may be back in 2022, working with a new general manager, and with one of the smallest margins of error any Giants coach has ever faced. He may follow in the footsteps of other Giants coaches who were nearly canned before making glorious comebacks, namely Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin. Then again he could be cast on the heap of failure with the Bill Arnspargers, Ray Handleys and Pat Shurmurs of team history, whether that happens next week or next season.

Whatever becomes of Judge, his tenure will forever be remembered not just for the football results he oversaw but even more for the violent swing in the pendulum of public approval that took place between the first weeks of January 2021 and 2022.

Notes & quotes: The Giants’ low-risk signing of former first-round pick Isaiah Wilson to their practice squad in September never paid off and on Tuesday he was released. Wilson, the troubled tackle from Georgia who was discarded by the Titans and Dolphins before coming to the Giants, was lambasted by offensive line coach Rob Sale last week for not being "dependable" and was not activated on Sunday in Chicago despite the team’s dire needs on the offensive line … The Giants also waived Chris Myarick, the tight end who caught Daniel Jones’ last touchdown pass of the season on Nov. 28 against the Eagles.

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