Head Coach Joe Judge
September 10, 2020
Q: When we asked you earlier in the week, you said you didn’t want to announce a starting center at that point. Do you have a decision at this point?
A: We’re going to give it another day or so. It wouldn’t be much fun for you guys if you just knew the answer right away. We’re going to see how today’s practice goes and hopefully we have an answer by tomorrow.
Q: I have a general question regarding players who come into camp late or who will be joining the roster now. On defense, obviously, it’s going to be kind of hard for them to go back and re-capture everything that was taught going back to April. I’m wondering what is the approach with those guys? Do you have them focused specifically on the game plan and then give them a reader’s digest version of the concepts behind it? How exactly do you guys approach that?
A: Yeah, you actually just summed it up right there. You have to focus on the things that are specific to what they have to do that week. Then you want to go ahead and make sure you bridge that with the background of the concepts we’re running. You can’t give everyone the entire playbook on a weekly basis when they first get there. Now to be honest with you, from Adrian (Colbert) to Ryan Lewis, they at least have a background in the system, both working under Pat (Graham) at different times. I was with Ryan in New England for a short period as well. They at least have a little bit of a jumpstart on what we’re doing, the terminology, and some recall there. But if it’s any other player where they’re just off the street and we have no background with them, we can’t go and start from square one and build them up. You have to build that vocabulary over time, but really the first thing you start with is what is a priority for that player on that week. Just make sure that’s what they’re focused on working on so they can go out there, have success, get the repetition and feel confident going into what they have to do in the game. That was a great summary right there. That was perfect.
Q: Looking at the past five or six months, how challenging has it been getting this team ready during a global pandemic? An overview.
A: They’ve come to work every day urgent with great effort and attentiveness. Look, they’ve been a pleasure to work with. When you have guys that come to work every day to get better, you make progress, and I’ve seen a lot of progress in our team so far. We have another big day to get ready for the Steelers today, and then obviously, we’ll tie it up with a couple quick days on the field the next couple days. But they’ve made a lot of progress and I’m very proud with how they’ve worked.
Q: Can you just talk a little about using starters and important players on offense and defense on special teams? I know that’s obviously something you did in New England. It seems like something you’re bringing here. We saw, obviously, Jabrill (Peppers) was named a special teams captain. That’s not the first role that jumps out in a lot of peoples’ minds when they think about him.
A: I think one thing specifically on Jabrill is the versatility he brings to you. He’s a guy that obviously plays a large number of roles for us on defense. He’s also handled core roles on coverage units, he’s been a returner in the past. He’s a guy that loves football. Really what he is, he’s kind of that kid in the classroom who won’t sit still. He keeps wiggling. So, you have to keep him busy all the time, otherwise he gets disruptive. His involvement on special teams a lot of times is just to make sure he stays out of the other coaches’ hair for about 10 minutes of each period. But he’s definitely a guy who comes to work every day, the guy I see has passion and a love for football, he’s willing to do anything the team asks of him. I think that’s reflective when the team voted on captains, why he got such a large number of votes. Really on special teams, that’s a great way of really showing it’s not just the offense or the defense, but that bridges across all avenues of the team and the units. Now, specifically on using starters on special teams, I’m a firm believer in using the best players for every situation possible. Hey look, I don’t care if you’re playing 60 plays on defense or 60 plays on offense. If we need you on a unit for special teams and that’s best for the team, then that’s where you can make an impact.
Q: T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) talked a little about how LT (Lawrence Taylor) used to play on special teams. This is a Giants team that also knows about Jason Sehorn’s history with special teams. How do you balance sort of the risk-reward there?
A: It’s football. The thing we have to understand, you only take 46 guys to a game. When you have limited numbers, everyone has to play. That’s the kind of thing everyone always asks me about starters. To me, in the National Football League, you don’t have starters. You just have players. Everyone has to play. Everyone has a role. Whether you’re playing in the dime package on third down on defense or you’re playing on the goal line offense as the extra blocking tight end, maybe you’re an offensive lineman that has to fill that role, everybody has a key, significant role to the game plan and for success. Whether that’s playing on the punt team, the hands team, playing 70 snaps on defense, every snap is critical. We want to make sure that we have the best players in place to give our team the best chance for success. But I’m going to be honest with you, Lawrence Taylor playing on field goal protection and playing on punt protection, these are things I’ve used in the past on different teams. Sometimes you get a guy from a college program where he didn’t have to play on special teams because that was something they let somebody else do so they get a varsity letter. Lawrence Taylor played that because he loved football and he made an impact for the team. When you kind of point out ‘ok, you think you’re too good to play on any unit, whatever the team needs you to do? You know Lawrence Taylor, he wasn’t too good for that. He was out there to win and he had a lot of success doing it.’ It kind of puts the teams in perspective. There have been different illustrations that I’ve used in the past of great teams and some of their better players playing on multiple units, as starters and special teamers. Again, to me, it’s football. Football players who love the game will play on any phase with the same amount of passion and effectiveness because they want to win the game.
Q: Connected to Jabrill, would you use him on offense as well? He handled the ball a couple times last year, and every time he did, he either scored or made a big play. He’s obviously done it his whole life, and that’s part of the reason you have him on punt return. Would you use him on offense?
A: Yeah, I wouldn’t limit anything we would do with Jabrill, to be honest with you. If he can add something to our team, whether it’s a situational play, whether it’s a full-time player in a certain area of the field, absolutely. Anyone that can help the team, I have no problem doing it. Again, I kind of came up in this league with certain players who played both ways of football. Whatever the team needed, they had a lot of success doing it. Guys like Troy Brown, who played both ways of football. I was able to coach Julian Edelman for a few years. Jules played the nickel on the defense in the last drive of the AFC Championship Game in 2011. Then he flipped over and played receiver on offense, he was a punt returner, he covered kicks. It’s kind of whatever it takes. One of the phrases that we use with the players all the time is ‘the more you can do.’ The more you can do, the more valuable you are to the team, more chances you have to get on the field and make an impact and help this team win.
Q: You’ve had an opportunity now to sort of look at your team on the field, in practice, padded practices. What do you view as the strengths of this team?
A: I really view the strength of the team right now as their passion for the game and the way they can play together through adversity. We’ve gone through a lot of situations this offseason. I never heard one player complain, I never heard any two players have a disagreement that carries over and affects the way they work for the rest of the day. I think the strength of our team right now is we have a team, and that’s something to be proud of. There’s a lot of teams out there with a lot of talent that are split in different directions. I like when I see our guys and I see everyone moving in the same direction. There are going to be a lot of things we need to progress on and improve on throughout the year, but right now, I’m proud of the way our guys come to work every day, work together to get better, support each other and challenge each other on a daily basis.