Special-teams coordinators rarely get the respect and consideration that they should, when teams are hiring head coaches. The Giants decided to reverse that trend on Tuesday, making Patriots special-teams coach Joe Judge their new head coach.
It’s about time. John Harbaugh has proven that special-teams coordinators can make very good head coaches. Like Harbaugh, Judge added a season as a position coach (receivers) before making the jump, but the reality is that special-teams coordinators continue to be viewed as outside-the-box options.
They shouldn’t be. They work with players from every room, offensive and defensive. They don’t develop a “system,” so they won’t be tied to any specific offense or defense when the time comes to become a head coach.
And they are football coaches, no different than offensive coordinators or defensive coordinators or position coaches. Since few head coaches have a special-teams background, they almost always have a heightened degree of autonomy.
A few cycles ago, Chiefs special-teams coordinator Dave Toub was regarded as a candidate for a head-coaching job. When, however, Colts G.M. Chris Ballard didn’t give Toub serious consideration as the replacement for Chuck Pagano, Toub’s name fell off the media’s knee-jerk list of candidates.
Judge’s success, or otherwise, in New York will be a factor in whether other special-teams coordinators get a chance. But that shouldn’t matter; Harbaugh’s success should be enough to open the pipeline for those who run the part of the team that smart head coaches regard as being just as important as the offense and the defense.