Head Coach Joe Judge -- August 18, 2020
Q: We saw you coaching up Saquon (Barkley) hard at one point. As a general question, how important do you think it is to be able to coach up your top players really hard?
A: We coach everyone the same. We’re trying to demand the best out of everybody and make them improve every day. We’re not letting details slip. The thing I’m most impressed with is how coachable this team is. They come in here every day, they’re looking for details, they’re looking for coaching points, they want to improve and they want to do better. They understand it’s about the message, not how the message is always delivered. We coach hard. We’re very demanding. This is a tough job. We’re in New York City. This is a tough place to play and coach. We have to have guys who are thick-skinned and understand we have to operate in high pressure situations. We can’t go out there on the practice field and just sing ‘Kumbaya’ together and think we’re going to advance.
Q: Do you have an update on what happened to Corey Ballentine and Cody Core?
A: I don’t have any information on the second one. I’ll wait for the trainers for the official on Ballentine, but he finished practice. He was up quickly right there. He’s good to go.
Q: Two-parter here. Last night, a couple of former players, Shannon Sharpe and Ben Watson, came out and kind of criticized your approach for having guys run laps. They said it’s not going to work. What’s your reaction to that, number one? Number two, what’s the line like for you with wanting to strike a no-nonsense tone, but also wanting to have your vets on board, guys who might not be used to this, with what you’re doing?
A: First off, everything we do has a purpose. We’re very intent on explaining to our team why we’re doing things the way we’re doing them. I’m a big believer in educating our team in why we’re doing things. That we’re not just out there blindly winging it and trying to go ahead and force punishment. I explained the other day, when you make mistakes on the field, there are consequences. In the game, it’s penalty yards. At a practice, we have to understand that there are consequences for mistakes. This isn’t a punishment. It’s a reminder that we have to draw our attention and be more detailed with how we approach things.
Q: Now that they’ve been in pads for a few days, what have you seen from Andrew (Thomas)? It looked like he had some good points, some bad points today when they were doing the pass protection.
A: Look, they’re all learning. For rookies, they need to get used to the speed of the game. But I’m very pleased with how they’re working on a daily basis. We see a lot of things through the competition so far. It was only the second day in pads. You’re looking for improvement from day to day. When you go in pads for the first day, you’re really looking for a drastic improvement from day one to day two. The biggest thing is guys have a lot of energy and enthusiasm in that first day in pads. What they don’t always have is the level of execution because it’s been months since they’ve put on the shoulder pads and helmet. It’s playing at a different tempo and intensity, and the technique has to match up with the physicality the game has. I saw some improvement today. I was pleased with that. We’ll watch the tape and see what else we had going.
Q: You were talking about Andrew Thomas a little bit and those drills. Do you want the pass rushers, they have to work on their stuff. But do you want to make sure that a rookie like that gets a full array, a bull rush, spin moves, everything? They have to work on theirs and he has to work on his, but do you try to coordinate it so you get to see everything you can with the rookie?
A: I’d say if it gets to a certain player that needs a certain amount of something specific, we can always set that up in a drill. We can always go ahead and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to set up a pass rush drill where it’s all bull rushes or spin moves,’ whatever that may be. At this point in time, we’re just lining players across from each other and through getting a quantity of reps, we should see an array of rushes. That should benefit everyone involved. The biggest thing for us at this point is the players have to learn to start identifying who the opponent is and what their tool set is that they like to use. When you go against a pass rusher, you start narrowing down. What’s their main one, and then what’s their main counter, and start getting a pattern for what they’re doing. If they went ahead and bull rushed the last time, what are they going to do next time? Is it a push pull and try to get you with speed on the outside? Is it a spin move inside to try to get you to plant your feet and counter off that? The players have to become smart in the action of anticipating what’s coming next with their opponent.
Q: The tackling drill at the goal line. It seemed to get the juices going for the guys. It’s the first time I’ve seen something that physical in camp in a while here. I’m just curious, how long ago back in the programs you’ve been a part of, and is that something you’ve always believed needs to be done?
A: Listen, we can’t get the guys ready to drive on I-95 by riding back roads. If we think the Pittsburgh Steelers are coming in here to hug us, we’re all sadly mistaken. We have to train these guys in a physical manner to make it safe for them to play the game the way the game is played. To answer your question, I’ve been doing that drill personally within the programs I’ve been in for the better part of a decade. It’s a safe drill. It’s in a controlled space. It’s how we can teach guys to safely have collisions because that’s what the game is going to be. It’s a collision game. It reinforces technique we can teach off it on the tape. We do that in training camp. We’ve also done that throughout the season at different programs I’ve been a part of. That’s actually a drill a lot of times you use for even a young guy coming up off the practice squad or maybe someone returning from an injury. Whether they’re a ball carrier or a tackler, you have to test out where they are health wise. If it’s a defensive player, is he healthy enough to tackle? Is he turning on contact? If it’s an offensive player, can he sustain the ball security through contact and make sure he’s not fumbling every time he’s hit. Normally, there’s a shock factor when the fans watch that at first, the media sees it at first, with ‘Oh, they’re hitting?’ I’m just putting to context what we’re trying to do on every play. We’re staying on our feet for most of practice with the exception of a couple of live tackling drills. You have to selectively do those through training camp to get the guys ready. Again, we’re not doing anything out there to try to see who the toughest guy in the schoolyard is. We’re trying to get every player ready to play safely for 60 minutes against a competitor for 16 weeks.
Q: How does a guy impress you here besides just talent? Is it preparation? Is it attitude? Is it spirit? Is it leadership? What are the qualities that you’re looking for?
A: Real simple. Do your job to the best of your ability and put the team first in every decision you make.
Q: It’s that simple?
A: It’s that simple. We don’t have to overcomplicate it. Guys who put the team first, who come to work every day and do what they’re asked to do the best they can. That’s it. It’s the same thing we tell the guys. It’s not easy to play in this league, but it’s simple. That’s all we’re asking you to do every day.
Q: I’d like to talk about some of the undrafted free agent receivers. Everybody talks about (Darius) Slayton and (Golden) Tate and all that. But can you talk about (Austin) Mack and (Derrick) Dillon and what they’re bringing and showing you?
A: I’ll tell you what. I’m pleased right now with the progress that all the receivers are making. That whole crew of young guys, we have a number of them. We have a number of guys who just joined our roster in the last week or so. What we’re seeing with them right now is daily improvement. What we’re seeing with them in pads is the physical nature to get down and do the dirty things that we’re asking them to do. To block every down, to dig out those down safeties, to go in there and mix it up, to have ball security through contact. They’re doing a really good job forcing that. They’re leaning the system the best they can. It’s not just learning the playbook in terms of the diagrams and the plays. It’s learning your opponent, how they play and how to handle certain coverages or what your adjustment may be. I’m seeing improvement every day from those guys. They need to keep on that track. Obviously, the pads are on now. It’s more competitive as we get towards the scrimmage on Friday and see what next week has with the split squad game we’ll have. That will reveal a lot about our team.
Q: You were talking yesterday when you split the team how you pick things to evaluate. I’m just curious, as a first-time being a head coach, how are you enjoying that? How much different is it from when you’re just coaching a position or just coaching a unit like special teams?
A: It’s definitely different. The first time we had a walk-thru was the first time I ever walked onto the field and didn’t have a specific area to go to right away. To be honest with you, it takes you a couple of days to kind of get your bearings in and get your feet in. But I know there are certain things I’m looking for every day. I want to get my eyes on every player in some way, shape or form. It’s my planning pre-practice to know who I’m looking at in every drill and what’s my purpose. I look through the script and the plays that are going to be called. I look at the drills that are set up and designed that we talk about in meetings. I know who I’m looking at for certain things or certain matchups. We may talk in a meeting and say ‘Hey, I want to get so and so vs. so and so in a pass rush or one on one receiver vs. DB’ and see how they make out. Listen, you have to go into every practice with a plan. The coaches do a tremendous job of staying organized and working through the daily progress. But as a head coach, I have to walk around and make sure the team is moving at the rate I need to, and to individuals, for evaluations that we go ahead and make decisions for the team, I have all the necessary information.
Q: Just a quick one. It didn’t seem like Colt McCoy was out there for the first hour or so of practice. Was everything ok there?
A: He was dealing with a personal matter. We knew about it and he’s all good.