Head Coach Joe Judge
August 25, 2020
Q: In a season like this where you don’t have any preseason feedback, how much do you have to trust on everything you’ve learned?
A: In terms of what, the players? Myself? The coaches? What are you looking at?
Q: Everything. In terms of coaching, your players, things like that.
A: I think you always have to rely on your base and your philosophy. Really our practice tape is what we have to go on, based on how we compete on a daily basis and the progress we see. The biggest thing we do is monitor our own players’ improvement. We know what the standard is. We explain it to our players every day. They know if they’ve met it or not. We’re very honest with the progress they’re making. It’s not about pointing out that they did something wrong. It’s helping them understand how to correct it and do it right, and that’s our goal on a daily basis.
Q: How do you feel about your cornerback position as a whole? What do you like about Brandon Williams, a guy you guys are expected to sign? What do you hope to see in KeiVarae Russell, a guy it sounds like you guys are going to work out?
A: I’m going to leave anybody who’s not on our roster yet until something is finalized, then I’ll speak on it freely. In terms of our cornerback position, they’re young and they’re improving. We’ve seen daily improvement. It travels over from the individual drills to the competitive releases to the one on one drills to the group pass and seven on seven, and then on to the team full 11 on 11 drills. You see it on a daily basis that they’re improving. Listen, they’re young. They’re learning the speed of the game, they’re learning how to handle multiples. There are going to be things every day that are new to them. It’s not that they make mistakes, it’s that they can’t repeat mistakes. That’s our goal as coaches, to get them out there, make sure they learn from their own experiences and from the other experiences from their teammates so they don’t have to have a mistake as well. But I like the way they’re working. They’re definitely competing. Jerome (Henderson), (Anthony Blevins) Blev and Mike Treier do a phenomenal job with that group as a whole and development. We have a lot of leadership within that group, coming from certain guys who have been here, been in the league for a few years and are definitely doing what they can to help the young guys.
Q: When you’re in these ultracompetitive situations like the scrimmage on Friday, it sounds like today’s practice got pretty spirited towards the end, what can you learn about a young quarterback in these situations that might even be more valuable and better than learning about them from preseason games?
A: Whether it’s a preseason game or practice, it’s competitive situations that you really find out about your team. These are professional athletes. Everybody looks good running around in their underwear, but it’s when the pads go on, they get popping, when it gets heated out there, when situations get tight, that’s where you really find out about guys. You find out more so when something goes wrong, how they respond. Putting them in heated competition, mistakes are going to get made. You want to see how they respond to that mistake. It’s not just the coaches that want to see it. All the players want to see it as well because they’re looking at that guy in the huddle on every play.
Q: I know he’s wearing the red jersey, but for a kid like Daniel where this is your first time working with him, when you have the “live bullets” flying with the pass rush and in pads, defensive backs playing press coverage and all that, what have you seen in those settings where it is live and you have a lot of physical play on the outside at wide receiver? What have you learned about Daniel in those settings that maybe you didn’t see early on in camp?
A: I think you knew the guy had a lot of toughness just from watching the tape last year. This guy took some shots and he got up. He made mistakes, you saw him improve. He comes to work every day, you know he’s committed to the team. What you see from him in heated situations like that, to me, when I stand behind the huddle, is I like to see his poise. I like to see how they handle it when those bodies are collapsing at times in the pocket. I like to see how he reacts to when maybe a receiver doesn’t get open right away or someone slips and falls, how he handles moving on to the next part of the progression. To me, it’s a lot about hearing them in the huddle and how they communicate with their teammates. When things get going faster, are they panicking, or does their voice have a calmness to it that settles the other 10 guys who are around him?
Q: Just curious how much moving inside impacted practice? What did you think about the way the guys came out there the last couple of periods?
A: Look, it’s sudden change. We had lightning. That’s the only thing that’s ever going to put us inside is lightning. We had to move in. We go right to it, the guys understand if there’s ever a weather situation that we have to go inside, we just continue with practice and we move along. Sometimes it alters a little bit. We have to go from two spot drills to one spot drills, and we try to find a way to maybe lengthen the periods slightly, pick up the tempo so we can get everybody their reps. That’s really the biggest hindrance right there. But the second it cleared out, we got outside as fast as we could.
Q: This is sort of a random question, but I feel like I’ve noticed some of the defensive backs, do they have tennis balls or something taped to their hands? I assume that would be to not grab, but I don’t want to assume. What’s the reason behind that?
A: Yeah, to be honest with you, we’re teaching them not to hold. We’re not going to accept penalties, so we’ll find any little trick we can to go ahead and teach them.
Q: Just wanted to ask you about, obviously, things got a little heated there with Lorenzo (Carter) and Evan (Engram). Maybe not so much how you wanted to see how they reacted, but how everyone else, how the entire team reacted? That’s really the first time that we’ve seen a situation like that in camp so far. How did you see things play out? I don’t know if pleased is the right word, but the fact that no one else really got involved, it seemed to calm down pretty quickly.
A: I think our players understand the emphasis and the importance of how we have to practice and how it carries over into games. We’ve talked at length in team meetings about why we’re not fighting on the field. There are a number of reasons. But probably the most obvious and important is it’s a penalty in a game. You throw a punch in the game, you’re thrown out of the game. It’s going to be a fine, it’s going to be a penalty for the team and you don’t get to play anymore. Those guys got into a little bit of a heated, grabbing scuffle today. The teammates got over there to break it up. Obviously, they’re frustrated within competition. But you know what, they handled it the right way. They were hugging and kissing after practice. They put it behind them. Like brothers, they’ll move on and tomorrow they’ll be smiling and laughing with each other.
Q: I’m curious what have you seen from Nick Gates? Obviously, you guys have the center competition. You’ve talked about this before. Now Spencer Pulley got banged up yesterday, now he’s sitting on the side. What have you seen from Nick so far?
A: Again, with a lot of our guys, it’s level improvement. Nick’s a guy that when we got here, we knew he had a lot of flexibility position wise. He had to learn the center position. I think he’s definitely a guy who’s just locked in to doing anything he could to give himself a chance. He’s improved in the short amount of time we’ve been able to be together. He shows a good command out there in terms of understanding the offense, communicating the calls. He has a toughness about him that you like inside. Spencer brings the same qualities. Spencer’s a tough dude, he’s a smart guy, he can run the show out there, he understands what we’re trying to do, he understands what the defense is trying to do, he’s a great communicator on the line of scrimmage and in the huddle. Both those guys have done a tremendous job competing.
Q: Where would you say that competition is right now?
A: Scratch even.
Q: I know some quarterbacks like to get that first hit out of the way in a preseason game. Is there any thought at all to taking the red jersey off of Daniel at some point before September 14th?
A: You know, we’ve talked about it. With quarterbacks, you want to go ahead and be calculated with how you start banging them around. I don’t think we’re going to throw him into any Royal Rumbles or anything like that. But at some point, we’ll pop his pads a little bit in a controlled environment. Maybe that’s with a young guy who understands kind of hitting him a little bit. But I’m not in a hurry to go ahead and just beat the hell out of him. But at some point, we’ll prepare his body for what he may take in the first game.
Q: The other question was it looked like (Jabrill) Peppers had to leave again today. It seemed like the same issue, cramping. Is there something that could be done there?
A: I know we were rotating a lot of guys. He was playing throughout practice. I have to check. He’s a guy that sweats a good bit. We obviously put a lot on our guys today. I’ll check and see where he was on the back end. He was in good spirits after practice. We were talking. I’ll check on it when I get back to the locker room. I don’t have an answer for you right there.