Head Coach Joe Judge -- August 21, 2020
Opening Statement: Before we get started with the question and answer session, first off, I just want to lead off with letting everybody know, we talked a little bit as a team, not as a full squad yet. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ron Rivera and his family. Obviously, we compete against each other on a weekly basis, there are rivalries within the division. When you hear news like this, you’re all on the same team and we’re all really, truly pulling for each other. I’ve been on the phone with several other head coaches just this morning, and I know everyone has the same sentiments as me. I’ll let them speak for themselves. At this time, we want to send our prayers and thoughts to him and his family. I look forward to seeing him this fall on the field competing and getting well.
As far as how the scrimmage today went, we were able to build in a lot of situational work. We were able to get a lot of live work, which the guys really needed as far as wrapping up, tackling, going to the ground, feeling the contact, blocking, getting good live pass rushes in 11 on 11 situations. We got a good bit of volume for the players. They were able to handle it. Their conditioning is improving. They came out with good effort and energy. That was very pleasing. Next week, we’ll kind of kick it back up with the goal of building into an intrasquad game on Friday. We’ll get back, talk with the trainers, talk with the strength coaches, look at the volume we’ve had with players this first week, which we pushed them through a lot, and we’ll see how to structure next week’s practices accordingly to make sure that we can go ahead and lead up to next Friday’s game. With that, I’ll open it up to any questions you have.
Q: What did you think of your first team offense, and Daniel (Jones) specifically?
A: I thought everyone came out to compete today. Listen, there were some times right there that they played better. I thought they ended the day on a high note with some good drives going down the field. There are always some things that you have to clean up. To me, it’s about the things that we can control. But for our first day of really going out there in a live situation, calling plays and running plays, I was pleased with the effort today. I was pleased with the urgency. There are a lot of things we need to clean up going forward. I have to look at the tape to tell you specifically what all those are. I don’t want to go ahead and misspeak until I watch it on tape. But overall, I was pleased with the way they came out to work today.
Q: Do you subscribe to the theory that in these kinds of situations, a lot of times the defense is ahead of the offense when you first start doing real live action?
A: You know what, it’s going back and forth every day. It really has. It’s gone back and forth. When you play a common opponent, which is intrasquad right now, you have a tendency to lean on your own teammates. You have a better view throughout the week of what the offense is installing. Obviously, our offense ran plays today that they installed throughout the week. Our defense saw a lot of these. They weren’t carbon copies of what they saw in practice, but different versions of them. Defensively, our guys have done their homework. They stayed ahead a little bit. Obviously, they studied and they knew what to expect in certain situations coming forward.
Q: How impressive was it to see Darnay Holmes, a rookie, this is really his first glimpse of as close to a live NFL action as you’re going to see, come out and be as disruptive as he was? He had that nice interception down near the goal line. How impressed were you with what you saw from him today?
A: He’s a real competitive guy that comes to work every day with a full head of steam. He’s very attentive. I’m not surprised to see him improve day by day. I was pleased with the way he played today. I’m sure there are things that he has to clean up. I have a couple of things off of the top of my mind right now, as I do with every player on the team. But I was pleased with the way he came out and competed today.
Q: Along those lines, you said this was kind of a test of the communication between the coaches and calling plays. How do you think that went with Patrick Graham and the defense?
A: I thought it went well. We didn’t have any personnel issues on the day. As far as getting guys on and off the field, there were a lot of situations that were involved. They had to match the offense’s personnel based on down and distance. Operating fully from the sideline today, I thought the coaching staff did well. We have to remember, this was only the first time that this coaching staff on either side of the ball have worked together in this kind of situation. There’s a lot of communication that, as coaches, we have to work out as well. I’d say the element that was kind of left out today was myself to Pat (Graham) and Jason (Garrett) and T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey), as I kind of sat back today and I really wanted to observe and watch the players up close and I wanted to hear the play being called in the huddle. I wanted to see the demeanor of the players up close and I wanted to watch how they competed throughout the game, or scrimmage I should say.
Q: I know you’re evaluating everything, but do these scrimmages carry a little bit more weight. Just along those lines, if you want to share, did anybody jump out to you?
A: I’m going to wait until I watch the tape before I go ahead, but I was pleased with the way everyone came out and worked today. I would say every day is important. Everything is evaluated. A day like today, when you can tell the team, ‘Hey listen, we’re going out there, it’s live situation football, we’re calling plays you’ve practiced, we’re putting in call situations to work on defense, and play ball.’ You want to see how guys perform in these situations because it’s the closest simulation we can have to a game. If you put it kind of in context to what we’re doing today, this would have roughly been equivalent to a competitive practice against an opponent, leading into preseason game one today. This would have been a similar setup we would have had with a common opponent and leading into the game. Next week, we have to flip around and kind of get into more true game mode and almost try to replicate that preseason game feel. Obviously, it’s a fast-forwarded version of training camp. But we’re trying to make sure we acclimate the players accordingly and build into it so they can do it effectively and safely.
Q: We didn’t see (Xavier) McKinney, (Ryan) Connelly or (Corey) Coleman today. Any update on where those guys are at?
A: You know what, we just thought they had a really strong load, and we’re looking to really build into next Friday. Based on what they did the rest of the week, and those guys carried a heavy load for the team throughout practices, we thought it was best to just go ahead and rest them. We worked several other players throughout the practice as needed by certain periods. To be honest with you, there are a lot of young players that we had to see today. We have to think in context of, again, we didn’t have preseason game one this year, where you see a lot of young guys get out there and show you how they compete. Today, in essence for us, it was a lot of preseason game one to see how guys get on the field, compete and what kind of impression they can leave us with.
Q: Were you pleased after (Darnay) Holmes’ interception to see Andrew Thomas finish the play like that and knock the ball out? And about the corners, too, Julian Love, (James) Bradberry, Holmes, it seemed like your corners had their hands on the ball today. Was that also something that pleased you?
A: It was definitely something… Look, you want your defense to be ball hawks and flying around all the time. Those guys have been doing a really good job this week of working and improving. Again, it goes back and forth. Sometimes you turn on offensive drills and the defense falls. Then you turn it on the defense and the defense wins. But it was good today to see them out there in a competitive situation of not only applying what we’re calling, but what we’re calling in the situation. You can’t just call plays. Is it 1st and 10? Is it 2nd and short? Is it 2nd and long? What’s the third down down and distance? What’s the personnel on the field? They need to process a lot of information in a short amount of time. By doing that, they put themselves in the right position. I was very pleased with that. The answer on Andrew is yeah, I was very pleased to see our offensive line hustle in that situation. That’s what we preach right there in terms of looking for the turnover and securing the tackle. It’s good to have things you preach in the classroom show up on the field. On the other side, Darnay is going to get ripped for fumbling the ball.
Q: One other quick one. David Sills had the ball in his hands a lot today. It seemed like he factored in big time. Can he also help you on special teams, and is he a guy who has shown you something through this offseason?
A: I know he’s been doing a lot of work with T-Mac and Tom (Quinn). Look, this guy busts his butt every day he comes out. He’s shown up a lot for us already on offense. He shows up in the kicking game. We’re going to get more competitive within the kicking game situations this week as we practice and within the game, so a lot of those positions will be more revealed as we go forward. But I’m very pleased with how David comes out every day and works. It’s no surprise he’s making plays and being productive.
Q: I want to ask you about two guys, similar to what you were just asked about Sills. Two guys who keep flashing to me, Alex Bachman seems like he’s always open and Javon Leake seems like, we know about Saquon (Barkley), (Dion) Lewis, but Javon Leake seems like he’s giving you good depth at running back. What have you seen from both of those guys?
A: Starting with Leake, he’s a guy who’s really coming on right now. He’s feeling more comfortable within the system and scheme. He’s doing a good job of taking coaching points from Burton (Burns) to the field. He’s a guy that’s very in-tune at meetings, paying attention. You can see that with him. He’s improved on a daily basis. Look, today’s the day where he had an opportunity to go out there and just play. That’s always how you want to see it. He went out there and just played some ball, made some plays for us. There are some things he needs to correct and clean up, and that’s our focus as coaches, making sure we come back, make corrections and push forward. In terms of Bachman, again, very much like David, he’s a guy that comes to work every day and works hard. He’s productive in drills, he’s productive in team periods. It’s no surprise to see him making plays. We just need to keep all of those guys in the same rotation and give them chances to see ultimately who can compete and help us win.
Q: You talked the other day about Daniel and the command he’s showing of the offense. Were you pleased, not necessarily with what he completed and didn’t complete today, but with how he ran the offense and the command that he had at the line of scrimmage?
A: Yeah, very much so. If you guys saw me in the scrimmage, I was standing behind the huddle, behind the offense, yelling at them the entire time. Look, the things you can’t see on film are the command. You can’t see on film the way he is in the huddle. You can’t see on film the presence our players have at the line of scrimmage. That’s why I was standing where I was today to make sure that I could really feel our guys out there on the field and get a sense of how they are interacting with each other and who’s really out there dictating what’s going on. I was very pleased with the tone he sets in the huddle. He does it every day in practice. But he went out there today in a competitive situation and really stepped up. He has good command situationally. He knows how to use some of the variety of calls and checks within our offense. I thought he really showed up a lot at the end of the scrimmage. That no-huddle situation we had right there, I was very pleased to see how he commanded the entire team and kept everyone moving through the situation.
Q: I know you were asked a little bit about Love earlier. Just what have you seen from him? Is he a vastly different player than what you saw on film and maybe scouting him last year coming into the league?
A: I think all of these guys who were young players last year have improved. They’re still young guys, they’re improving every day. He’s a guy who’s really just felt more comfortable within our system and scheme. There’s just a learning curve, so you’ve seen him improve every day. He’s getting more comfortable back there, he’s been more vocal. That’s important in his role, being the signal-caller in the deep part of the field. He has the athletic ability that we’re going to play him in a different variety of spots based on the matchups. You see him play up in some man coverage sometimes. Other times, he’s back in the deep part of the field. We’re going to move him around as needed based on the situation. But to answer your question, overall, I see him improving every day. I’m not really concerned about where he was last year. I’m concerned with where he’s going to be in a couple of days, next week, a month from now, and I see him moving on the right track in that direction.
Q: We talk a lot about how McKinney and (Jabrill) Peppers sort of play off of each other. Is Love really the key to allowing those two to do what they do and to give them the flexibility?
A: There’s no one key on that. It’s really kind of based on the opponent that you’re trying to match and what the scheme you’re calling right there is. But you really need flexibility with your personnel in the secondary to be able to do different schemes. Those guys have given us a lot of flexibility we’ve been able to use. We have to keep bringing these young guys along. They’ve been working hard as well. But they all play off each other with what they’re doing. There’s no one key in those three.