The Giants were not happy with Pat Shurmur's coaching staff, especially as the losses mounted in his second season. They had issues with how they struggled to develop young players, according to multiple sources, and they questioned if that staff put the team in the best position to win.
So far, though, there are no such complaints or worries about the coaching staff new head coach Joe Judge has assembled. The early returns are positive from both inside and outside of the organization, both with the quality of his choices and the willingness of the 38-year-old first-time head coach to add experienced voices to his staff.
His full staff hasn't officially been revealed yet -- only the coordinators have been announced -- but multiple sources have confirmed most of the names. Judge has dipped deep into his past, bringing coaches he's known from his days in New England, and from as far back as from when he was a graduate assistant at Mississippi State. He also has quite a few who came from the Nick Saban coaching tree.
Most impressively, Judge has also hired four former head coaches, which is exactly the kind of experienced help the Giants hoped he would get.
Here is what's known about the staff so far, including some thoughts on them from sources around the league:
Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator
This was a great hire and absolutely the man Judge's bosses wanted in the job. They asked for (and perhaps insisted on) experience, and Garrett's long run as Cowboys head coach provides that. There's also a long memory of Garrett's time as a backup quarterback with the Giants in 2000-03. "He was like a coach then," said one member of the organization in those years. "He was a huge help for all the quarterbacks back then. He's going to be great for Daniel Jones." Garrett also was an excellent offensive coordinator in Dallas before he became a head coach.
Jerry Schuplinski, quarterbacks coach
He has earned rave reviews from the quarterbacks he's coached in the past. Jimmy Garoppolo, whom he coached in New England, said "I probably wouldn't be where I am at without him." Jacoby Brissett, another ex-Patriots, called him "one of my favorite coaches." Schuplinski helped mold both of them into future starters. And while he didn't have the same success with Josh Rosen in Miami last year, Dolphins veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick praised him, saying "His ability to know who he was teaching and the way that guy learned - and adapt based on who he was talking with - is one of his huge strengths."
Burton Burns, running backs coach
The 67-year-old comes to New York with the Saban stamp of approval, after he spent more than a decade at Alabama as the running backs coach and the associate head coach. In 2018 he moved off the field and became the Tide's assistant athletics director for football. He's got two Heisman Trophy winners on his resume - Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015) - and both went on to successful NFL careers, so Saquon Barkley is in good hands.
Tyke Tolbert, receivers coach
There's a reason the 52-year-old was the only position coach held over from Pat Shurmur's staff: His receivers love him (When told Tolbert was returning, one of the Giants receivers responded "Great move," via text message). And the results were good, too. Despite a pretty banged-up group of players, he got production out of Giants receivers last year. And everyone is thrilled with the development of Darius Slayton, who caught 48 passes for 740 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie.
Freddie Kitchens, tight ends coach
The former Cleveland Browns coach was on Judge's list from the start, and could have landed as the offensive coordinator if Judge hadn't hired Garrett. But landing him wasn't easy. According to a source, after Kitchens' initial conversation with Judge, he decided he didn't want to jump right back into coaching after his one very long year in Cleveland. Judge kept after him, though, and Kitchens reconsidered. The two of them spent one year together at Mississippi State in 2005. Kitchens hasn't coached tight ends since he was the Cardinals' tight ends coach in 2012, and this is a big step down from head coach. Some believe he'll have an additional title or other responsibilities, but that remains to be seen.
Marc Colombo, offensive line coach
When the Cowboys finally started building their team the right way, they did it around the offensive line. And Colombo, a former lineman himself, was part of that as both an assistant O-line coach (2016-17) and the O-line coach (2018-19) under Garrett. He's extremely well-respected and clearly is familiar with the offense Garrett wants to run. "He's still young enough to relate to the players," said one NFC source, "and he's a teacher. He wasn't just riding the talent there. He was improving their technique. Isn't that what Judge said he wants?"
Ben Wilkerson, assistant offensive line coach
The Giants were absolutely unhappy with the way their line was coached by Hal Hunter the last two seasons, so the fact that they agreed to keep his 37-year-old assistant around speaks volumes about what they think of Wilkerson. A former NFL center, he's entering his sixth season as an NFL assistant line coach, and his third with the Giants. Oh, and you know who probably recommended him? Saban. Wilkerson played for Saban at LSU.
Derek Dooley, TBD
It's not yet clear what job the 51-year-old Dooley will hold on Judge's staff, but he has a history on the offensive side of the ball, and with working with young quarterbacks. He was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Missouri in 2018-19, where he helped develop current Broncos quarterback Drew Lock. Before that, he was on Garrett's staff in Dallas (receivers coach, 2013-17). He also has been a head coach twice, at Louisiana Tech and Tennessee. And from 2000-04, he was an assistant on Saban's staff at LSU. In fact, he was Saban's assistant head coach in 2004.
Patrick Graham, defensive coordinator/assistant head coach
Judge made it clear that Graham, 41, was always his first choice to be the Giants' defensive coordinator. In fact, he told reporters at the Senior Bowl that it was a "home run hire" and that "we were very fortunate to be able to get him out" of Miami, where he had been a defensive coordinator for just one season. It's unclear exactly how that happened, but that does explain the "assistant head coach" title. Judge and Graham, was the Giants defensive line coach under Ben McAdoo in 2016-17, worked together in New England and obviously built a trust and a bond. It also sounds like Graham will do more than just run the defense. "Pat is going to handle a lot of duties in the building," Judge said. He wasn't specific, but said it will have something to do with "blending both the culture and principles of the organization."
Sean Spencer, defensive line coach
"Coach Chaos," as he's called, has been one of the most impressive and productive defensive line coaches in college football. The Penn State defense has had a dominating pass rush, producing more than 40 sacks in each of the last five years -- including 45 last season. Spencer was a high school teammate of former Jets head coach Eric Mangini, and he interned with the Jets in the mid-2000s when Mangini was there. "He's always had that level of determination you want," Mangini once told the Hartford Courant. "He had that level of persistence as a player and has it as a coach. He is determined to be successful but does (it) in a way that's not abrasive at all." Spencer was also the associate head coach and run game coordinator at Penn State.
Jerome Henderson, defensive backs coach
Henderson actually has more ties to the Jets than to Judge or the Giants. He spent eight years in the NFL, the final two with the Jets (1997-98) and was the Jets director of player development in 2006-07 and their defensive backs coach in 2008. The 50-year-old was also on Jason Garrett's staff in Dallas as their DBs coach from 2012-15 (though he was hired before the Giants hired Garrett). He also was the Falcons' defensive passing game coordinator the last four seasons. He has one of the biggest jobs on the staff, given the Giants' young and unproven core of cornerbacks. He'll be charged with the development of DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal, and safety Julian Love. "They're in good hands," said one NFC scout. "Those kids have a chance to be good, and with (Henderson) they'll get better, quick."
Bret Bielema, outside linebackers, senior assistant
Bielema is one of the most interesting members of Judge's staff, and also another with head coaching experience (at Wisconsin from 2006-12 and Arkansas from 2013-17). The 50-year-old has spent most of his career in college, but joined Bill Belichick as a "consultant to the head coach" in 2018 before coaching the defensive line last year. Bielema could have ended up as the defensive coordinator if Judge wasn't able to lure Graham out of Miami. It's unclear exactly what his "senior assistant" title means.
Kevin Sherrer, inside linebackers
This will be the first NFL job for the former Tennessee defensive coordinator. He is yet another Saban disciple, having served as Alabama's director of player development from 2010-12, which included two years when Judge worked there as a grad assistant. The 46-year-old was also the outside linebackers coach at Georgia from 2014-17, when current Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter had 14 ½ sacks and developed into a future NFL player.
Jody Wright, defensive assistant
Judge has known the 38-year-old Wright since they were grad assistants together at Mississippi State (2005-07) and assistants together on Saban's staff in Alabama (2010-11). They are close friends, according to a source, and Judge had plans to bring him aboard wherever he landed. The "defensive assistant" job, though, is interesting, since Wright's entire coaching history appears to be on the offensive side of the ball.
Mike Treier, TBD
It's been a wild ride for the 29-year-old Treier since he left his job as safeties coach at Marshall University in December. He took a job with Florida State as a defensive analyst, then reportedly was going to leave that to be the safeties coach at Colorado State. And now he's with the Giants instead. He's coached safeties and corners in his short coaching career, and it's not clear what job he'll hold with the Giants.
Thomas McGaughey, special teams coordinator
The Giants special teams have been very, very good under McGaughey, who has earned rave reviews from his players, bosses and people around the league. "Everyone likes what he's done there, especially since they haven't always had the best talent to work with," said one NFC scout. "And now that people are starting to look at special teams coaches as head coach material, I wouldn't be surprised to see him on that (interview) circuit in the next year or two." One Giants source said they believe that if the Giants rebound this season, McGaughey could end up on the head coaching interview circuit as soon as next year.
Tom Quinn, assistant special teams coordinator - (Confirmed by McGaughey)
He served as the Giants' special teams coordinator for 11 years, through two Super Bowls and some lean years. It said a lot about the 51-year-old when he was willing to return as the assistant to his successor in 2018, just months after he was fired, and shortly after McGaughey was diagnosed with cancer. Quinn always got too much public heat when he was a coordinator, but has been well-respected in the organization. He's also obviously been an asset to McGaughey, and not just in those first few months.
Anthony Blevins, TBD
Blevins was McGaughey's assistant the last two years, but he also was a grad assistant with Judge at Mississippi State from 2005-07. It's unclear whether he's returning as the assistant special teams coach or whether he'll switch to another position. He did coach cornerbacks in college for five years, so he could end up coaching that position if Judge decides to divide the DB coach's job.