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Transcript: Head Coach Joe Judge

Eric from BBI : Admin : 9/11/2020 3:05 pm
Head Coach Joe Judge

September 11, 2020

Opening Statement: I appreciate your patience. Sorry, I ran a little over on a meeting this morning, so that’s what delayed me right there. But our guys are getting ready for practice right now and I came as fast as I could. That being said, I’d like to open it up to any questions.

Q: I know other people are going to ask you about practice yesterday. I wanted to ask you a bigger picture question. I know you’re obviously focused on game prep, but have you taken a moment at all just to reflect on the dream come true of coaching your first NFL game on Monday night? How might you and your family mark the occasion?

A: To be completely honest with you, no, I haven’t really spent much time thinking about individual things, especially personally. At some point maybe later down the road, I’ll stop and look back on a lot of things. But my mindset is always kind of looking ahead at what’s coming up, and right now, we have the Steelers rolling into town. Any kind of personal or individual things that may be special to anyone directly in my family individually, that’s for down the road for me.

Q: Since it was left on the tee for me, can you just talk about what happened at yesterday’s practice, and how you thought the guys responded to that?

A: It really wasn’t much. Sometimes I schedule a second stretching period after the first couple periods of individuals, so a normal day for us right there… No, hey listen, I thought the guys responded really well. We actually had a really productive, really good practice. I was happy coming off the field. Sometimes we just have to go ahead and keep in mind that it’s important that we lock in and start fast.

Q: C.J. Board, why did you guys claim him? What did you see in him? What do you think his strengths are as a wide receiver, what he gives to your team as a whole?

A: I think he gives us a lot of versatility. First off, he’s got top-end speed. That’s definitely something that sticks out to you. But he’s a guy with a real good work ethic, he’s made plays, he’s been productive in practice. We have several coaches on staff who have had past experiences with him in other organizations, so he was somebody that was familiar with our coaches. But he’s somebody that has a skillset to really work with and develop. We’re glad we have him here.

Q: With Monday rapidly approaching, how excited are you about bringing this unit and how equipped are they for the opener in your mind?

A: I think at this point, we’ve been hitting each other long enough. Everyone is getting anxious for Monday night. We still have some work to do. We still have a lot of prep to do. There’s a process that we have to continue to go through leading up to the game, but obviously, it’s game week. As game week goes on, everyone’s heart starts pumping a little bit more. Listen, first chance we get to get guys on the field, there’s going to be a lot of excitement.

Q: You talked at the beginning of camp about how rookies are never ready when they show up to their first NFL training camp. You’re at the end of the training camp now. How much closer to ready is Andrew Thomas in particular?

A: I’ll tell you what, I think they’ve all made significant gains. That being said, the rookies still don’t know what to fully expect. They’ve been taught, they’ve been told, they’ve seen examples, they’ve felt the speed of practice. But the reality is, you can’t truly simulate the full speed of a game until you play in a game. Because they haven’t tasted that yet, they don’t know yet. Now, it’s our job to get them mentally, physically and emotionally ready for that game. But until they get out there and get hit in the mouth for the first time, they really don’t know.

Q: How about Andrew Thomas in particular? How much improvement has he made since he first stepped on the field with you?

A: Yeah, he’s a guy that’s gotten better every day for us. This is a guy that’s very coachable, he’s very attentive in meetings. You hit him on some kind of technique or aspect of communication, he improves every day on that. I’m very pleased with how he’s come along. But I think he’s the same as all the other rookies right now in that until they get out there and get that first taste of game action, they’re not truly going to know what it is to play in the NFL.

Q: How has Golden Tate looked coming back from that hamstring injury?

A: He’s moving well right now. We’ve been mixing him into some of the things we have been doing in practice. Individuals, a little bit of team work, some group work. He looks like he’s coming along nice. He’s working hard every day and doing what he can to get back.

Q: How much did you watch last night and kind of watch how everything was going to work? What do you take from that?

A: To be honest with you, I didn’t have time last night to watch any of the game. I will watch it later today when I get a little bit of time. Some of our coaches are going through the game and breaking down different aspects as to how the flow of the game went. Maybe some things we can expect by seeing two other teams compete. I will watch it later on, I haven’t had a chance yet.

Q: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you about the FDNY hat and the significance of today. How much have you spent with the team reflecting on 19 years ago?

A: To be honest with you, this is always a significant day in American history. We talked to the team this morning about it’s not about what happened to the country on 9/11, it’s about how the country responded. I think that’s the lesson everyone has to take with how resilient this country is. You look at a lot of the things going on across the country, how divided a lot of people seem. It’s amazing how much this country can truly work together and respond when needed. I think watching from afar, at the time I was down south, I was a thousand miles away, you watch the way the city of New York came together in this time of crisis. Now, I’m looking across the river at a city right there exactly where the tragedy happened. If you listen to the stories of today of the guys who were in the building the day it happened and how they could see the smoke coming from the city, it puts a much different perspective on it. To me, it’s a significant day. I’m very big into American history, I’m very big into what the people who came before us have done, fighting for our freedom, the first responders, how they are there and they have our back. To me, today is a day we need to have appreciation for what everybody does, for the sacrifices they make. We can’t forget what happened on 9/11, we can’t forget the people who are willing to respond, the Todd Beamers of the world and the action they took on the flight to bring down the third plane and save more American lives. I think it’s significant, people have to remember it’s not just a day. There were actions taken on that day that brought this country close together. I think if we can focus more on how we can respond as a nation and work together, we will get past a lot of this crap (divisiveness) that we are dealing with right now.

Q: Just bringing it back to football real quick. You obviously came into this building and this team and your introductory press conference and laid down the gauntlet that you wanted to have a physical team, a blue collar team and all of those things. After a training camp with so much physicality and some unorthodox ways of bringing that about, where do you think you guys are in terms of establishing that culture and setting that tone heading into the opener?

A: I don’t think anything is ever a finished process. I think we’re always working on refining and improving as a team. I’m pleased with the way the guys have worked. We have had a physical training camp, we have been hard on the guys. That’s to get them physically, mentally, emotionally ready for the games they are going to play. Especially a game like playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. These guys practice hard now. You talk to the guys who have played or coached in Pittsburgh, Mike (Tomlin) gets the guys ready. They have a hard training camp. They hit on each other a lot, they get after it. They don’t back down from contact. That’s the culture and the identity they’ve had as an organization for as long as they have been around. In terms of us and our own culture, our identity is still being formed. That will keep on being formed throughout this year. Like I said, we’re always looking to improve. We’re always looking to build on what we’ve done. You never arrive, you’re never settled, you’re never satisfied. It’s important for us to go out every day, like we did yesterday and like we are going to do today and improve on the day before.
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