Most would recognize Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback of all-time. There’s a mountain of evidence to support that claim (six Lombardi Trophies and four Super Bowl MVPs, for starters), though Giants coach Joe Judge, who brushed shoulders with the legendary signal-caller during his time as a Patriots assistant, doesn’t sound particularly convinced of Brady’s greatness.
According to Michael Silver of NFL Network, Judge and a number of other ex-New England staffers are of the belief Brady, though admittedly “intelligent,” was a product of the Patriots’ “system,” a scheme that offset many of his shortcomings including “throwing deep, throwing outside the numbers and moving in the pocket.” In fact, Judge, who Silver notes has “exuded an alarming aura of haughtiness” in his new venture with the Giants, has gone as far as “openly denigrating” Brady’s abilities.
That’s not a hill I’m personally willing to die on, though I’ll allow Judge and others to have their own suspicions about Brady, who has been excellent in his debut season as a Tampa Bay Buc. The nugget from Silver was part of a larger thread detailing the early months of Judge’s New York tenure, which have been turbulent to say the least. While Judge’s disagreement with fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo did not turn physical as some have suggested, many in the Giants organization were puzzled by Judge’s handling of the situation.
As alluded to by Silver, the tension began on the practice field when Judge made a point of correcting Nick Gates’ technique. When Colombo voiced his disagreement, Judge lashed out, leading to a “frosty” relationship from that point on. After struggling early, the Giants’ O line was beginning to make progress when, seemingly out of nowhere, Judge elected to add his former Patriots colleague Dave DeGuglielmo to the team’s coaching staff as an “offensive line consultant.” Colombo, who was popular among players, predictably wasn’t thrilled by this development. Neither were his O lineman, who Silver claims were “confused” by Judge’s odd choice to bring in a new coach amid a two-game winning streak.
With unrest brewing, Judge went out of his way to “rip” rookie tackle Andrew Thomas during a team film session. That’s when things got heated with an irate Colombo adamantly coming to Thomas’ defense, prompting the blowup (including the use of some very NSFW language) that led to Colombo’s dismissal. None of this paints the picture of a functional franchise with Silver calling Judge’s explosive falling out with Colombo an “open sore” within the Giants’ locker room, leading to frustration among players, many of whom are worried they’ll have to learn new techniques on the fly.
Like many other Belichick protégés who have made the leap from coordinator to head coach against their better judgment, Judge—whose abrasive personality has been described as “off-putting”—has fostered a hostile environment in New York, needling players and coaches with blunt criticism and around-the-clock negativity. Belichick’s famous “Do Your Job” mantra has worked for decades in Foxboro, but when others (Matt Patricia and Bill O’Brien among them) have tried that ruthless approach elsewhere, it’s mostly blown up in their faces.