NFC Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Joe Judge, Washington


  • Cowboys TE coach Lunda Wells remains in COVID protocols, as does S Jayron Kearse, with HC Mike McCarthy saying of Wells: “Actually, I think he’s testing today. He may be back today or tomorrow. Other than that, we’re 100%.” (Michael Gehlken)


  • The New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy, citing a source within the Giants, reports that former HC Joe Judge was very harsh on his coaching staff and the players lost confidence in his system: “The coaching staff walked on eggshells. Players didn’t believe in the system. Everyone liked him as a person, but when you hear the same repetitive stuff without changes it becomes a broken record.” 
  • SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano writes the past couple of weeks in particular really tanked Judge’s standing with the team, which went from a vote of confidence in him dating to as recently as two weeks ago to him being fired Tuesday night.
  • It wasn’t just the losing, which continued in dismal fashion as the Giants lost their last six games by an average score of 27-9. Judge’s media appearances also began to destroy his public image and Vacchiano says there were concerns that the players were tuning out the message. 
  • One source told Vacchiano: “I don’t know if they stopped believing in him, but they seemed tired of listening. Losing always makes everything seems worse. But they could see the game plans weren’t working. (The coaches) had no idea how to squeeze anything out of the offense. Judge would hammer home the same things, meeting after meeting, but nothing he did ever worked.”
  • While Judge did deal with his fair share of challenges, from a bad roster compiled by ousted GM Dave Gettleman to injuries that left them thin at key spots like quarterback, Vacchiano writes his inability to keep things competitive ultimately did him in: “He was dealt a terrible hand. The (bad) roster he got, the injuries, it all might have saved him. All he had to do was keep everything under control.”
  • Judge, conservative by nature, drew even further back into his shell. Vacchiano points out the team attempting just 11 passes and completing four in a loss to the Bears, as well as the infamous back-to-back QB sneaks inside their own 10 against Washington: “It was like he gave up. It was like he threw up his hands and said ‘I can’t work with this personnel.’ He’s not wrong. The team he has is terrible. But what coach does that?”
  • Vacchiano adds Judge’s 11-minute rant after the loss to the Bears that went over poorly with the fanbase was also viewed poorly by the team, specifically where he took a shot at Washington by saying this, “ain’t a team that’s having fistfights on the sidelines. This ain’t some clown-show organization.” 
  • He also took a shot at previous HC Pat Shurmur, saying when he arrived, “It’s not a team. They don’t play hard. Everybody quit. They stopped showing up to captains’ meetings. They tapped out.”
  • Judge entered meetings this week with owners John Mara and Steve Tisch needing to defend his program and vision for the future. Vacchiano adds some GM candidates had asked if they would be required to keep Judge before agreeing to interviews and had been told they wouldn’t. He thinks Giants ownership saw the writing on the wall and decided to fire Judge before hiring a new GM. 
  • Judge was generally liked in the locker room, but the part of his rant where he said former players were calling him saying they wished they were still in New York even if it meant making less money, and that pending free agents were begging to stay, did not go over well. A person with close ties to several players said: “He looked like a clown. They (players) were, like, ‘What the [bleep] is he talking about?’” (Zack Rosenblatt)
  • Mara said during his press conference that this is the most he has been embarrassed by the team’s play in recent years: “Honestly, I would have to say yes. Yes it is. I kept thinking during the season we had hit rock bottom, then each week it got a little worse.” (Vacchiano)
  • Mara said his brother Chris Mara does not play as large of a part in the scouting process as some seem to think: “All personnel decisions in this building have been made by the GM and head coach. When they agree on a personnel decision they come to me with it, and if they both agree, I OK it.” (Vacchiano)
  • Mara on why he didn’t fire Gettleman before the end of the season and let him retire instead: “I didn’t see any need to do that.” (Rosenblatt)
  • He noted it galled him to fire his third straight coach after just two seasons but he didn’t see a way forward for Judge: “I very badly wanted to do that this year, but I just didn’t see any end in sight.” (Vacchiano)
  • Mara was asked if there was one final mistake by Judge that cost him his position. He said he obviously wasn’t thrilled with Judge’s press conference or conservative play-calling, but there wasn’t one single mistake that did it: “It was a culmination of things.” (Rosenblatt)
  • Regarding the future of others on the roster like QB Daniel Jones or RB Saquon Barkley, Mara noted it will be up to the new general manager they hire. (Tom Rock)
  • Giants DL coach Sean Spencer is expected to be hired by Duke as its next co-defensive coordinator. (Josina Anderson)


Washington HC Ron Rivera indicated the organization is preparing to be a lot more aggressive to secure a potential franchise quarterback this offseason, whether it’s in a trade or through the draft.

“It’s not just about the reluctance to do it, but are we in a position to do it? I think we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position.” Rivera said, via JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. “As we look at all avenues and we sit down and we talk about trading, whether it’s trading for a player or trading up in the draft — what will it take? — we can have an earnest conversation where we may say, ‘It’s going to take not just draft picks, but it may take a core player or two.’ With the depth we have at certain positions, we might be.”

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