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It is all about Joe Judge now.

The Giants mercifully ended their horrid season with Sunday’s desultory 22-7 loss to Washington in front of the smallest gathering — cannot call it a crowd — in MetLife Stadium history. General manager Dave Gettleman will announce his retirement Monday, ending his failed four-year run. And then comes the big decision looming over the entire organization:

Does Judge stay or go? There is a growing sense the Giants will move on from him.

Around Christmas, Giants ownership was feeling good about bringing Judge back for a third year. The one caveat: The team could not devolve into a laughingstock down the stretch of the season. Since then, nothing has gone right for Judge, as his team lost its last six games by a combined score of 163-56 to close out a 4-13 season by often not putting a competitive product on the field.

Judge lost his quarterback, Daniel Jones, to a sprained neck and without him the offense went from bad to inept, averaging 9.3 points in the final six games. Judge did not help himself at all with his 11-minute rant last week after the 29-3 loss in Chicago, mentioning sideline fights and “clown show’’ organizations, clearly referring to Washington, and stating he was told the 2019 Giants quit, an indictment of former head coach Pat Shurmur. This caught the attention of co-owner John Mara, who was quite irritated with these comments.

After hiring Judge two years ago, Mara said he had to show more patience with Judge because he was a first-time head coach, acknowledging that getting rid of Ben McAdoo after 28 games and Shurmur after two seasons were signs of an unstable operation. In August, Mara reiterated this, saying: “I just have to try to continue to have some patience, which is not easy for me, given the last four seasons that we’ve had.’’

Asked at the time if Gettleman was on the hot seat, Mara said, “Let’s see what happens during the season. Let’s see what kind of progress we’ve made. Let’s see if we’ve won some games and we’ll address that after the year.’’

Jake Fromm is sacked during the Giants’ loss.
Robert Sabo

Gettleman, 19-46 in his four years, will be addressed when the team sends him off to retirement. Gettleman, 70, spent 15 years with the Giants heading up the pro personnel department, playing a large role in building two Super Bowl championship teams. His tenure as the general manager produced four consecutive double-digit loss seasons. Before the game Gettleman, stood in front of the Giants’ bench and posed for pictures with members of his family.

The sights and sounds of this final game were an indictment of just how low the Giants have fallen. Thousands upon thousands of grey seats remained unoccupied on an afternoon when the rain held off until after kickoff. As usual, the Giants on defense gave a spirited effort. As usual, the Giants on offense were a total embarrassment.

Giants coach Joe Judge on the sideline of Sunday's game against the Washington Football Team on Jan. 9, 2022.
Giants coach Joe Judge on the sideline during Sunday’s game against the Washington Football Team on Jan. 9, 2022.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

They saved their worst for last. In the second quarter, they actually called for and ran back-to-back quarterback sneaks with Jake Fromm, totally capitulating when they were backed up on the 2-yard line. Second-and-11 from the 2-yard line: Sneak for two yards. Third-and-9 from the 4-yard line? Sneak for one yard. If you did not know any better, you could have looked at this and thought “Victory Formation.’’ Oh, no, it was “Losers Formation.’’ The Giants were so fearful of getting pushed back into the end zone for a safety that they gave up on the series in a game they were trailing 3-0.

Down 6-0 in the third quarter, Fromm threw for Evan Engram but safety Bobby McCain stepped in front for an interception he returned 30 yards for a touchdown to make it 12-0. It might as well have been 120-0. Fromm to Darius Slayton for a 22-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter provided the only points for the Giants.

Giants fans hold up "sell the team" and "pain" signs during Sunday's game against the Washington Football Team on Jan. 9, 2022.
Giants fans hold up “sell the team” and “pain” signs during Sunday’s game against the Washington Football Team on Jan. 9, 2022.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Where is the progress Mara said he needed to see?

The new general manager, expected to come from outside the organization — if this happens, it will be the first time since 1978 the Giants do not hire their GM from within — will face daunting questions. Does he have a previous connection to Judge? If not, can he work with Judge? Is he a believer in Jones as the quarterback to lead this franchise out of the darkness of losing? Does he view Saquon Barkley as worth the $7.2 million he is on the books against the salary cap in 2022?

If Judge gets a third year — he is signed to a five-year deal — he undoubtedly will shake up his offensive coaching staff. How much input will the new general manager have in finding a new offensive coordinator? Will Judge be amenable if ownership or the new general manager insists he gut the offensive coaching staff?

The Giants have to hope Patrick Graham, their well-regarded defensive coordinator, does not get hired away as a head coach elsewhere. Graham is expected to receive interview requests. His defense was ranked No. 23 in the NFL in points allowed going into Week 18.

Some years, the end of a season comes too soon. For these Giants, the end of this season could not come soon enough and that it is finally over and done with is a relief.

Source: NYPOST

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