The most important hire Joe Judge will make for his new Giants coaching staff will be his offensive coordinator, who will be entrusted with the development of franchise quarterback Daniel Jones. Perhaps nobody will end up being more important to the long-term success of the franchise.
His new defensive coordinator, though, could come close.
Patrick Graham, who spent last year as the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator, will get that job with the Giants, a source confirmed, and will be entrusted with the growth of a very young and incredibly underachieving defense. That unit has been the real Achilles heel of the Giants the last three years, including two ugly seasons under outgoing defensive coordinator James Bettcher.
They've had a nonexistent pass rush. They've been plagued by poor communication in the secondary. They've worn down and blown the few leads they have late in games. They've been weak in stopping the run, and just can't seem to cover tight ends.
The good news is that GM Dave Gettleman has restocked the defense with young players -- eight players from the last two drafts that should be starters or significant contributors in 2020. The bad news is that under the Pat Shurmur and Bettcher tandem, the growth of those players has been stagnant.
It's Graham's job to make sure that changes.
Whether the 40-year-old is up to the job remains to be seen. Last year was his first as a defensive coordinator and the Dolphins finished 30th overall in team defense rankings. In fairness to him, he was handed a roster that many thought was set up for tanking for a high draft pick. It was young, underwhelming and usually out-manned.
The fact that Dolphins head coach Brian Flores had no issue letting the Giants poach Graham could be alarming. Or it could just be a sign of a young coach who wanted to head in a different direction.
The Giants' players seemed to like Graham when he coached the team's defensive line in 2016-17, albeit with mixed results. But Graham is definitely still an unknown as a coordinator -- much like the head coach who just gave him a job.
But too much is at stake for Judge to be wrong here. The Giants are absolutely counting on the stable of young talent they've built to be the core of a good defense in 2020. They think they have the makings of a strong secondary with safeties Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love as well as corners Sam Beal, DeAndre Baker and Corey Ballentine.
They believe linebackers Lorenzo Carter, Ryan Connelly and Oshane Ximines have shown promise at linebacker. And they are confident that Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson can make for an imposing front.
They do need more -- like a stud pass rusher, which presumably will come in free agency or the NFL Draft. But it'll be up to Graham to make sure those young players are what Gettleman thinks they are. Because all they've been so far is a lot of promise and the occasional flash.
Whether he can do that, or how he does that -- in a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme -- all remains to be seen. For now, this is a risky hire in a very important position. The Giants wanted Judge to add some experience to his staff. Apparently that'll have to come on the other side of the ball.