Head Coach Joe Judge
September 7, 2020
Q: Just a couple of sort of logistic questions now that we’re into Week One. You guys moved back to the facility I take it. I’m curious how that went and what kind of adjustments? I know you really liked the setup you had at the stadium.
A: Everything has been pretty smooth so far. What we’ve done so far as the spacing and everything is we’re actually using the inside of Quest, where we’ve always had all of our meeting rooms. We’ve also transformed half of our indoor facility into meeting areas as well. The defense will do pretty much everything that they have meeting wise outside (in the field house). The offense has a T-room out there. Then the offense will use some meeting rooms inside as well. There’s a little bit of back and forth for some of these guys, but it’s been a smooth transition so far.
Q: I know we’re going to be out at practice in a few minutes, but just in case guys aren’t out there, I wanted to just check with you. All the guys you claimed yesterday and then like Logan Ryan and the corner from Denver you traded for (Isaac Yiadom), who is going to be out there and who’s still in the process of getting on board?
A: We have a couple of guys we claimed, the three guys we claimed, they’re actually quarantining today and they have to get their physicals (Tuesday). Some of the guys that are in transition, they’re going to be doing some physicals or quarantining. We should have everybody out there Wednesday with us. Today we’re still a couple of guys short. But you’ll see, Logan (Ryan) should be out there and Isaac (Yiadom) should be out there today. You’ll see some of the new guys.
Q: What about the guys you cut on Saturday and then brought back? I think it’s (Brandon) Williams and (Eric) Tomlinson. Are they right back out there today or do they have to take a step back or anything?
A: No, they’ve been good with us. They stayed within the testing protocols, so that kept everything on track.
Q: As you prepare for this game, how much do you intend to coach the man, and I mean Mike Tomlin, on the sideline across from you? You have our own game plan and what the Steelers like to do, but then how much do you coach the coach across from you, what his tendencies are, how much you know about him and how you scout him?
A: Yeah, every coach has different tendencies and philosophies within the game. It’s our job to know our opponents. It’s our job to make sure our game plan fits what they do well and try to give our players an edge. In terms of knowing how different coaches call the game and how they build their team through training camp and how they operate throughout the flows of the season, that’s all of our jobs to make sure we operate to give our players the best chance right there.
Q: When you look at this opener, because it’s so unusual with no preseason, what do you look at as far as how you’re going to deploy your players? Can you expect any player to play 80, 90 snaps, 95 percent of the snaps, as maybe in a normal game you would? Do you look at this and say ‘it’s almost like we need to give everybody minutes here’?
A: I think it’s a combination of number one, we want to use all of our players actively within every game anyway. Also, along with that, just because the limits on the numbers you can have at games anyway, we’re expecting players to have to play the full length. We’ll spell guys as far as we can, but we’re going to have to make sure that we have the best guys on the field at all times to execute the plan in place. Obviously, for everyone in the league, this will be a challenge. No one has been able to time wise to this point put their team through any kind of situation that replicates the entire length of a game, whether that’s the three hours of competition, the hour-plus leading up to it. We just haven’t been allowed that amount of time by the league, and that’s just the way it is. Everyone is dealing with the same challenges right now. We placed a big emphasis on conditioning within our program, trying to get our players acclimated and healthy. That’s something that we have to push on going forward.
Q: If for instance you have 75 snaps on offense, the offensive linemen are going to have to push through and play 75 snaps on offense if need be?
A: Yeah, someone has to be out there. Again, if we can spell someone for a play here or there, we can rotate it through, great. That will be part of the plan as we get through the later part of the week. As of right now, everyone is preparing to play every snap.
Q: In sort of looking around the league, usually at this time of year, we see some football that’s not quite as sharp as we see after 2 or 3 weeks of games. Do you expect this year in particular will be pretty sloppy to start out with, especially given the no preseason games and all the things that you guys have had to deal with?
A: I think when you watch NFL football in September, regardless of the year, you see a degree of bad football out there on the field. Turnovers, penalties, some mental errors. You see some things within the flow and the operation of the game that isn’t the way it looks later in the season. That’s just the truth of the National Football League every year. Obviously, we’re coaching to eliminate bad football. That’s my goal as a head coach. I don’t know if this year will be any different. I can’t turn around and say it’s going to be better or worse. But I think in September, you always see your share of bad football as it turns up on tape.
Q: Do you know what you’re going to do with captains yet?
A: We’ll announce them later on. We voted on them this morning as a team. Before I announce it publicly, I’ll tell the players first. But yes, we have our captains.
Q: What do you look for in a captain? What do you want to see from your captains?
A: I think it’s important to me, for the head coach, to have someone who’s a voice of the team that can communicate for everyone in the locker room. I stress to the players, leadership is about doing your job well, it’s about putting the team first, and it’s about being unselfish. You have to be able to bring people with you to actually be a leader. Otherwise you’re just up there giving speeches and kind of rah-rahing. We just preach to the players that make sure you take your time and decide who you want to represent you. It’s not a popularity contest. You’re picking people to represent you when we meet on a weekly basis with the captains.
Q: When we asked you a couple of weeks ago about your competition at center, you said it was scratch even. I certainly don’t expect you to tell us who you’re starting center is going to be on Monday night yet, but have you made a decision with the way that competition has played out between Nick Gates and Spencer Pulley?
A: There’s been a push back either way. Both guys competed hard, made some gains throughout training camp. We’re going to go through another day or so. I’m going to talk to the players before we go ahead and decide anything internally.
Q: But in your mind, do you have who you want to be your starting center Monday night, or are you still determining?
A: We’re still going to work on deciding that. We’re going to let another day go through right here. There are some things we’re going to work on today.