Inside Joe Judge’s intricate plan to build Giants staff in his image

MOBILE, Ala. — Teach me something.

That is the demand Joe Judge puts on anyone and everyone interested in becoming a part of his first Giants coaching staff. Whether it is a well-known former head coach such as Jason Garrett or a lesser-known hopeful assistant, Judge needs to see and hear the candidate’s ability to impart knowledge.

“What I’m really looking for within the interview process is, I want to know how you can teach,’’ Judge said Wednesday from a conference room adjacent to his hotel room at the Senior Bowl.

“Make me better by listening to you instruct. There are a lot of guys who have a base of knowledge. You can talk to any of the guys at practice out here and put them on a board and they can draw up something. Everyone’s got a fancy scheme and there’s a lot of guys who can draw from their past experience. But teach me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Teach me. Make me the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich-maker in the history of the world.”

Well, that one is not a real example of how the new Giants head coach is going about his staff search. There was no “first, get the peanut butter from the pantry and the jelly from the refrigerator” — although Judge did reveal he prefers the peanut butter-to-jelly ratio to lean far more heavily on the peanut butter, much like the meat-to-cheese ratio on a cheeseburger.

As the 38-year-old grinds through the hiring process, every move, every decision, every call and consideration is based on the immediate and long-term success of a franchise that has fallen on hard times.

Joe Judge
Joe JudgeCharles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“Look, I’m taking my time,” Judge said. “One thing I don’t want to have to do is turn around after this year and make too many changes. I’m not bringing anybody into this organization to change. I want to take my time on the front end, I want to make sure to get the right guys in here.”

Judge has his coordinators in place – Garrett on offense, Patrick Graham on defense and Thomas McGaughey – a returnee from Pat Shurmur’s staff – on special teams. The only two assistants the Giants will confirm are Jerome Henderson (defensive backs) and Burton Burns (running backs). Others, such as Jerry Schuplinski (quarterbacks) and returnee Tyke Tolbert (receivers) are all but confirmed. Freddie Kitchens, a one-and-done as the Browns head coach, is a possibility (tight ends, perhaps), as is former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema as a defensive assistant and Jody Wright on the offensive staff. Longtime NFL offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo (he worked for the Giants under Tom Coughlin) was seen Tuesday sitting down with Garrett for a talk. Marc Columbo, who worked for Garrett with the Cowboys’ offensive line, is also in the mix.

Before he brings someone in for an interview, Judge said, “I’ve made at least 50 phone calls on the guy, even if it’s someone I know directly and had a working relationship with.”

This is quite a vetting process.

“I want to talk to players they’ve coached, I want to talk with coaches they’ve worked with, I want to talk to coaches they’ve gone against, I want to know what kind of multiples and problems they present for opponents,” Judge said.

Judge made an impression at his introductory press conference when he said he wanted “teachers, not presenters” on his staff. This is a big theme with him. His mother was a kindergarten and elementary school teacher and is now a school principal.

“Anyone can go out there and point at a player and say, ‘You’re screwing this up,’ ” Judge said. “Tell him how to get it right on the front end. Show him what he did wrong, how he’s got to correct it. That’s what I want to know.’’

Based on the candidate, these interviews take different shapes. Sometimes, there is hours of board work. Sometimes, Judge is on his feet with the prospective coach, working on techniques. Sometimes, he said, there is laughing, other times the discussion gets heated.

“But at the end of it you have to boil it down,” Judge said, “and figure out what does this guy bring to our staff, to our table, to our organization, that is going to improve how our players can perform.”

For more on the Giants, listen to the latest episode of the “Blue Rush” podcast:

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