The New York Giants have been mired in mediocrity for nearly a decade, having just one postseason appearance and no wins since their Super Bowl XLVI victory over the New England Patriots following the 2011 season.
If they haven't hit rock bottom yet, they're at the very least approaching it in 2021 under former Patriots assistant coach Joe Judge.
Following the latest loss for Big Blue, a 29-3 setback to the Chicago Bears in which they finished with the worst net passing yardage by a team in the 21st century, Judge went on a tirade which lasted more than 11 minutes that included some outrageous remarks -- perhaps none more so than his claim that some players who were with New York last season have called him to tell him they wished they remained with the Giants, despite their 4-12 record.
"I can tell you we've got more players here who are going to be free agents next year, all right, they're coming in my office every day begging me to come back," Judge said, via Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com. "I know that. I know that. I know players that we coached last year still calling me twice a week telling me how much they wish they were still here even though they're getting paid more somewhere else. OK?"
There aren't many places which feel less desirable at the moment than East Rutherford, where the Giants have lost five straight games and are tied with their co-tenants at MetLife Stadium, the New York Jets, and Houston Texans for the second-worst record in the NFL. Only the Detroit Lions (2-13-1) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) are worse.
Under Judge, who took over as head coach in 2020 after having primarily coached special teams in New England under Bill Belichick from 2012-19, the Giants have gone 10-22, tied for fifth-worst mark in the NFL.
"I’m not trying to make this place anywhere else I’ve been," Judge said.
Judge made reference to the 2018 Patriots in his rant, a team which started 1-2 and finished what was a then-pedestrian 11-5 before catching fire and winning Super Bowl LIII, the organization's most recent title.
"I was part of a team who halfway through the season we were all pretty convinced we were getting fired," Judge said. "We didn’t think we were going to make the playoffs. Had no concept of anything that was coming.
"The things I really learned that year was the importance of the culture inside...I was part of more talented teams that came up short and lost games down the stretch. Much more talented. But one thing that really solidified in my mind, in my DNA that year in 2018 was the fact that it’s so much more important how strong you are inside because no team goes through a smooth season."
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported over Christmas weekend that the team plans to bring back both Judge and quarterback Daniel Jones, who is 12-25 as a starter, for next season, but that was before the Giants were outscored, 63-13, by the Philadelphia Eagles and Bears (Jones, it should be noted, has not played since Week 12 due to injury.)
It wouldn't be all that surprising at this point if Judge became the latest Belichick assistant to fall flat elsewhere, joining the likes of Matt Patricia, Josh McDaniels, Eric Mangini, Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel and, to a lesser extent, Bill O'Brien, who had a disastrous end with the Houston Texans but did win 52 of 100 games as head coach.
"This ain’t some clown show organization or something else, OK? We’re talking about the foundation built," Judge said. "The toughest thing to change in the team, the toughest team to change in the club is the way people think. You understand that? That’s the toughest thing. You can get new players, you can have them in your damn locker room all you want. You have to change how people think. You change how they f—king — pardon my language — believe in what you’re doing. They have to trust the process."