“Relentless” was a word that Joe Judge used as an anchor in the very first media conference of his New York Giants coaching career. The kind of buzzy, coach-speak term that rolls off the tongue well in interviews and can be easily plastered somewhere in the team facility. If Ted Lasso has “Believe,” Joe Judge has had “relentless.”
Relentless in losing … in making mistakes … in overseeing decline. Relentless reminders that fruit of the Bill Belichick coaching tree is usually long on the culture promises but short on the sustained accomplishments. Not to mention filled with regrettable phrases that become demonstrably false when put to the test.
The man said this on Jan. 9, 2020: “We’ll play every play like it has a history and a life of its own, with a relentless, competitive attitude.”
Then he did this on Jan. 9, 2022: A quarterback sneak on third-and-9 from his own 4-yard line, in the second quarter of a game that Judge’s Giants were trailing 3-0. Sitting with a 4-12 record, no less, and with five minutes remaining in the last half of their season.
In such a last-frame, noting-to-really-lose moment of the season, most coaches call for a handoff to a running back. Maybe some kind of screen, tight end drag or receiver route that gets to the first down marker. You know, something that resembles at least a faintly “relentless, competitive attitude.”
But the guy who actually used those words? He called a quarterback sneak from something that closely resembled a kneel-down formation.
If we’re being honest, that’s exactly what it was — a kneel-down that was poorly dressed up a little to look a little less cowardly to everyone with eyeballs. Nothing less than a play call of capitulation executed from a surrender formation. At that very moment, the only way Judge could have looked more fearful is if he had diagramed the call on a white flag and relayed it to the huddle by waving it from the sidelines.
The moment left the FOX broadcasting crew so…