Head Coach Joe Judge
August 30, 2020
Opening Statement: Guys, I hope everybody had a good day yesterday. The guys were at practice, we obviously caught some nice weather, it kind of cooled down a bit. I was thinking about you guys over on the other side of the fence not cooking as bad today. We ordered that up special for you guys. After a chance to look at the tape the other day, you guys asked about the other night, I’m pleased with the effort our guys played with. Obviously, there are some things to correct and clean up. Our number one focus right now is we have to improve our football conditioning. To be honest with you, our guys have practiced extremely hard. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to. The reality is, there just hasn’t been an opportunity to build into a full game’s length of conditioning, so we have to find ways to supplement our team to allow them to really build into that four-hour window that they’re going to have when they play their first game on the 14th. That’s the number one note we really have as coaches.
Other than that, I was pleased with the effort. For the young guys, it was really their first experience of being on that game field moving around at a high tempo. I would say the simulation of the in-game adjustments, the crowd noise, the officiating, everything that goes with the game, definitely gave a different feel than we create at practice. I thought our guys really embraced that. You could tell there was a good energy and juice in the locker room throughout it. It felt like a game. You can tell for the young guys, their first time being out on the field, there were a couple of things they have to clean up in terms of embracing the job and execution and kind of getting out of the moment and the excitement. But that’s natural for any first game right there, even though it was a simulated one. At that, I’ll open it up to any questions you have.
Q: What was Blake Martinez dealing with? We saw him out there today. Would you consider him fully healed? Anything you can update us on with his condition?
A: I can’t go into everything on account of HIPAA, but I would say he’s fully healed. He’s ready to go. It was good to have him back out there with us today.
Q: Was it a physical injury or an illness?
A: I’m not going to go into the specifics of any injury or reason they’re off the field. But I’ll tell you what, I’m relieved to have Blake back out there with us. It was good to have him out there today.
Q: Javon Leake was released yesterday. He seemed to be doing some good things the last day or so. Can you talk about why you went in another direction with him?
A: We thought with the way we kind of had to look at some spots on our roster and addressing different positions with depth, this time of year, there’s a lot of movement on the roster. That’s kind of natural throughout the entire league. Look, he made a lot of progress for us. He did some good things, he did some good things the other night in the scrimmage. With the way the rosters move throughout the year, every player we have here through camp, we express to them that however the roster moves, we’ll have all of them on a list as far as possibly being brought back for roster or practice squad spots when available. He’s a guy that came in and worked his tail off for us. He made a lot of progress and I enjoyed coaching him.
Q: After the scrimmage or after a real game, what stats are important to you? You get a box score, what are you looking at that you find telling?
A: There are a lot of things you need to look into right there. To me, penalties and turnovers are always the most critical things past the actual score. I think that’s where you can tell what kind of ball your team played that day. Again, based on the opponent, some nights you may be more happy with the rushing defense or the passing defense. That all bases on how the flow of the game goes, who the opponent is and what you had to do that specific week to win. Without being too obvious, points are number one. But I like to kind of look at the length of drives, sustained drives, explosive plays. But really to me, it’s all about just good, fundamental football, which comes back to turnovers and penalties.
Q: As you head into the season two weeks away, are you going to have a full playbook on offense and defense, or will that evolve as the season goes?
A: What we try to do really here with our scheme and system is you build in the concepts of offense and the concepts of defense. From there, you can build whatever playbook you need by week. From the spring through training camp, we’ve worked on all aspects of our playbook. Now you don’t have to go out there every day and load them down with every situational call and every situational play, because a lot of things you don’t carry week to week. But we have to put all the tools and we have to put all the situations in, we have to put all the concepts in so when we’re forming a game plan for any game, Jason (Garrett), Pat (Graham) and T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) are all going to have the ability to draw from what they want to do because our players have been exposed to all aspects of what the playbook would entail.
Q: Just wanted to ask you about Carter Coughlin and a lot of the younger guys. How’d he come through Friday night? What did you see in terms of a younger guy trying to work in with a mix of really veterans and second-year guys in that spot of outside linebacker?
A: Yeah, he’s made a lot of progress for us. He’s definitely a high-motor guy. He’s a guy that whoever’s blocking him knows they’re in for a full down because he’s not going until the echo of the whistle is gone. He plays with that high motor and that helps him make plays. He’s definitely a work ethic guy. He was able to go ahead and he did a good job of setting the edge for us in the run game, he did a good job in some of the pass situations of getting a little bit of pressure off of the edge. He showed up in the kicking game for us, which for all the young guys, or really everyone on our roster, what you do in the kicking game is going to be a big factor in your ability to get into the game. I think he’s made a lot of progress on defense and special teams for us, and he’s definitely competing hard for the roster.
Q: After you watched the film of Friday night, specifically about the offense, is there a concern about their inability to put points on the board, or were they just happy to see them be able to put some drives together?
A: I thought they did a good job of stringing some drives together. Like I said the other night, there’s a lot of restrictions we put on the team in how we had to play the game and the tempo of the half. That eliminates a lot of what you can do on both sides of the ball. We understood that going in as a coaching staff. We knew what we were looking for specifically from the units, along with certain players, so no, I came out very encouraged.
Q: Are you going to run that same sort of style in Thursday’s scrimmage, or are you going to kind of switch things up to get a different look and a different feel for these guys?
A: We’re going to replicate some of the in-game things in terms of communication, tablets, some of the operational things, just so we have another go-around as a coaching staff and building some of the communication on the sideline with our players. But it will look a lot more like some of the practices you guys have been at. More like the first scrimmage than the second one if that makes sense. We’re going to go ahead and work offense vs. defense, we’ll build in some specific situations we have to hit, and then we’ll just have the move the field periods where we go ahead and let them play ball. It’s not going to be an exact simulated game like you saw the other night, but we’re going to try to replicate all of the operational stuff for the team. We don’t need to simulate a halftime, we’ve been through that. We will work on our overall pregame warmup so they understand the timing and get our bodies prepared for a competition. That’s important really for the young guys. That’s a difference from what they may have done in college and definitely different from what they’ve done in practice to this point leading up. We’ll have to build in some of that aspects of the game. Other than that, it’ll be a lot of practice-focused stuff where we’ll work.
Q: Daniel (Jones), obviously, fumbled once, twice, however you want to call it in that game. You said you liked 99 percent of what he did, except the fumbles, obviously. Moving forward now, this week, what do you do to sort of work on that, rectify it? How much more attention do you put on it, or is that not something you now alter considering the results of the scrimmage plus his past history last year?
A: We work on the fundamentals of our team every day. It starts with not committing penalties by having the right technique. It starts with eliminating turnovers by having good ball security. It carries into mental errors by creating stressful situations you have to operate in. We’re going to keep on the emphasis with our entire team by stressing those three things so we can be a tough, smart, fundamentally sound team. But we’re always going to place an emphasis on tackling and turnovers throughout how we practice.
Q: What did you put those fumbles in the scrimmage on? What kind of went wrong there?
A: There are a list of things we need to correct. It’s never one guy’s fault. Everyone has individual techniques that they have to improve on. Everyone has to be individually conscious of what’s going on around them. We’re going to keep on focus right there, pushing forward with the team, put them all through the drills we’ve been doing. Obviously, we have some things we still have to build on through our progression. That will come, actually through some of the season, because of just the length of what training camp’s been. But we’ll keep on with our installation as we go through it. We’re not going to go ahead and leave out anything we want to get installed.
Q: I know you talked about a lot of the restrictions and things like that on the offense, but just in terms of the offensive line, what did you see from them when you went back and watched the film?
A: You saw a lot of things from them. You see the young guys and the athleticism. I thought Nick Gates did a good job in the middle, commanding the calls and getting everyone on the same page. I thought he played with a lot of toughness the other night. I thought the tackles did a decent job. There were some other times, obviously, our defense was able to mix up some different looks and create pressure. There is a lot of parity in the night between our offense and defense based on the situation they were in. I thought (Will) Hernandez and (Kevin) Zeitler did a good job really playing physical. That showed up with Shane Lemieux. I was pleased with how Matt Peart and Eric Smith played on the edges. There are a lot of young guys who showed up as well. Tyler Haycraft had a large load the other night, did a decent job in there handling it, especially with the mental and the changes our defense gave with different looks. That’s always a key thing for the center position, to be the smart guy who steers everyone on the same page. I was pleased with the way the offensive line worked. They’re improving every day. Marc (Colombo) coaches those guys hard. Him and Ben (Wilkerson) get after it pretty good. They understand it’s coming from the right place. I’ve seen those guys improve because they come to work every day with their lunch pail.
Q: You have three practices left and a scrimmage. How set are you on who your 53 are? Or is there still a lot of wiggle room there?
A: We’ve had a lot of conversations. We spent about six hours yesterday as a coaching staff and personnel talking through the roster. We really do that every week, at least once a week, especially after the scrimmages. But look, at this point, there’s a lot of things that can happen. There are a lot of guys who have left strong impressions. We want to make sure we take advantage of the remaining time to give everyone a fair shot and make sure we don’t oversee someone’s ability and make an assumption too quick.