Head Coach Joe Judge
September 12, 2020
Q: A little bit of a personal thing. You’re two days away from coaching your first game at any level. I have to ask you, are you extra jacked up? Are you extra pumped up? When you go home at night, is your wife telling you to shut up at two in the morning because you’re yelling out formations and plays and all that?
A: When I get home, she’s already asleep, so I just try not to wake up the dogs. Right now, we’re preparing for Pittsburgh. That’s the biggest thing right now. In terms of anything individual or personal, I’ll reflect back on that later. Obviously, there’s adrenaline pumping. It’s the first regular season game. The feeling in every building in the National Football League is a little bit different today.
Q: What sort of challenges does JuJu Smith-Schuster present for a secondary, especially since he can line up at a few different spots? He’ll come in through the slot a lot of the time. What kind of challenges does a guy like that present for you?
A: Well, I think what you just said, his versatility of where they can use him obviously presents variety to their offense. He’s an explosive player. He’s very good with the ball in his hands after the catch. He has a lot of savvy. This guy understands playing with (Ben) Roethlisberger, you watch the tapes of these guys, there’s obviously chemistry between them on the extended plays that Ben is able to create. JuJu’s really a guy who’s savvy, he finds space, he gets open, he stays alive on plays and makes contested catches. This guy is really just an outstanding player. I’ve seen him in person multiple times in the past. He’s always a guy you notice when he’s on the field.
Q: What’s your message to Giants fans on the type of team that you’ll be leading onto the field on Monday night?
A: We’re working to build a tough, smart, fundamentally sound football team. That’s where our emphasis is going to lie and that’s where we’re going to consistently work towards getting to. These guys have been working hard. There’s a lot of energy, there’s a lot of urgency in what we’re preparing to do, and we’re going to go out there and work to make the area proud.
Q: We kind of heard from your players, they mentioned something along the lines of you telling them the first four weeks is about who makes the least mistakes, foolish penalties and stuff like that. I’m wondering if you could sort of expand on that and tell us what exactly your philosophy is on that?
A: I think a big part of it is not having preseason this year, you’re going to see a combination of regular season and preseason football early on. We have to make sure on our part that we play smart football, we don’t make mistakes that cost us, and we avoid the things that set ourselves back. We have a tough enough opponent with Pittsburgh coming in here. We can’t go ahead and set ourselves back to begin the game already. Really to me, it’s about being fundamentally sound in how you approach it, being a smart decision-maker on the field, and that ties into penalties as well.
Q: What’s your expectation for your offensive line? You’re basically going to have three new starters there from what they had here last year. Do you have to be patient early in the season because of that?
A: There’s not a lot of time for patience, but there’s always an emphasis on development. I expect those guys to play hard, I expect them to play together, I expect them to communicate and to adjust on the sidelines accordingly, and I expect them to fight for 60 minutes. That’s the expectation for every player on our team.
Q: The other day, you told us you’d probably have a decision on center by like Friday. I’m just wondering if you have that decision and if you’re willing to share it? My guess is no, but I have to ask anyway.
A: We’re going to start Nick Gates at center. He’s done a good job for us through camp. Spencer’s (Pulley) done a tremendous job competing. We’re very happy with both of those guys on the roster. We’re very fortunate to have both guys working at the center position. Nick brings a lot of flexibility to other positions, but that’s the direction we’re going to go for right now.
Q: Thank you for answering that. The other question I was curious about is, it is Week 1. It’s a new team, there’s a lot of excitement even though the fans won’t be there. How do you talk to your team about balancing having enough energy but not being too overly excited to where now they’re playing too tight and are putting themselves in position to make mistakes?
A: I think it’s how we have to prepare to begin with, to be honest with you. There’s going to be more adrenaline and excitement obviously, especially in the first regular season game. We have to prepare by putting these guys in stressful situations and keeping the pace of practice such that they have to think while they’re tired. That’s really the best to help them when they get on the field Monday night. Obviously, the excitement goes. They have to stay within the principles of the plays and concepts of what we’re doing, and really just bring it back to square one. Focus on doing their job and trusting the other 10 on the field to do their job as well, and functioning as a unit.
Q: Giants fans have been spoiled here for 16 years with a quarterback who never missed a start. How important do you view backup quarterbacks? What is your confidence in Colt (McCoy)?
A: We have confidence in every player on our roster. That’s why they’re a member of our team. We prepare every player to play every play of the game. Everyone has a critical role in the game. I said earlier, there are no insignificant roles, there are no insignificant units or anything. I love having Colt on this team. He’s a pleasure to be around. I’ve learned a lot from him already in a player-coach relationship. He definitely brings a lot of energy to the rooms he’s in. He’s a really good part to our team, and we’re happy to have him.
Q: Do you know who you’re bringing up from the practice squad? Can you share?
A: We haven’t decided whether or not we’re going to bring up anybody. This time of week, there’s a lot of things to talk about in terms of actives, inactives, because of the rules this year with the practice squad. Obviously, we’re entertaining all options throughout the week. We practice everyone accordingly for the game plan. But we haven’t finalized those conversations yet.
Q: We won’t talk to you after the injury report comes out. How are you feeling about (Golden) Tate and his status going into Monday?
A: He’s been working hard. He’ll be with the trainers a little bit as far as getting treatment. We expect everybody to practice today. We’ll take a look at how they are coming out of practice today and make the decisions for the game.
Q: Andrew Thomas, how confident are you in his ability to handle one of the best pass rushes in the league?
A: Again, we’re confident in all of our players. We’re going to put them in a position, we coach them hard, we’re very demanding. Those guys go through a tough regimen on a weekly basis with Marc (Colombo) and Ben (Wilkerson) and being a part of that offensive line. We have a lot of confidence in all of our players. That being said, this is a great challenge for our entire team. The offensive line has a great challenge ahead of them with Pittsburgh’s front. They’re very talented, they’re capable of having very disruptive plays, which gives opportunities to the backend for turnovers as well. All of our guys have to really come in and have 60 minutes of good football. We have to play disciplined and we have to always go ahead and be committed to the process of playing, and making adjustments throughout the game.