Joe Judge's first in-season firing of his head coaching career surprised some because of its timing, its target and its replacement.
Last week, the Giants head coach terminated the employment of offensive line coach Marc Colombo, a former NFL lineman who'd made a bit of a name for himself as an assistant in Dallas under Jason Garrett. Colombo followed Garrett to New York to serve on Judge's staff this season, but didn't make it to the end of the campaign, being shown the door after his bunch struggled to show improvement in the first half of the season. There was also the addition of consultant Dave DeGuglielmo, who became Colombo's replacement after a week in a decision that drew a negative reaction from Colombo and led to his dismissal, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.
The associated emotions of an in-season firing spawned wild rumors, some of a potential physical altercation. Judge was finally able to publicly address the situation Monday.
"I'll just say on the entire situation, I made this clear from day one, I'm always going to make every decision what I see is best for the team," Judge explained. "This decision was no different. Look, there's been a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation. A lot of people have done a lot of digging trying to figure out details of the situation. I'm not going to rehash any of that.
"I'll just say on the whole thing, we wish Marc well going forward. The decision we made was in the best interest of the New York Giants, short and long-term."
Judge knew DeGuglielmo from their time together in New England, causing some to wonder if there might be spawning of factions -- former Patriots and non-Patriots -- within this still-new Giants staff. Judge refuted such a notion, instead emphasizing his team's need to focus on "technique and assignments and principles of what we want to do big picture-wise."
"Look, we're all professionals here. We all have one goal in improving the team," Judge said. "Obviously, we've been working through a season. There are a lot of new guys coming from different spots. We're all New York Giants now. We're all working towards the same goal. There have been no effects in that nature right there. I feel good about going forward with everybody."
The Giants are worth following through the end of the season not only because they're still in the thick of an awful NFC East, but also because they spent the fourth-overall pick on a tackle who is now working under his second offensive line coach in a season. New York had started to improve incrementally in the weeks prior to Colombo's firing, which Garafolo said was a product of Judge taking practice time to work directly with the offensive line, leading to the decision to bring in DeGuglielmo.
New York still needs to take plenty of strides to get back to a contending level, though, with many of those necessary along the offensive line. A regression up front would reflect poorly on Judge and DeGuglielmo, and would stunt the growth of the aforementioned rookie tackle, Andrew Thomas. Accomplishing the opposite of that is perhaps even more important for the Giants' long-term success than a late-season push for the division title -- and would help justify Judge's in-season change.