Head Coach Joe Judge
September 24, 2020
Q: I’m curious when you bring in a guy like Devonta Freeman, your first impressions of him at practice yesterday? Then you guys kind of go from having a bell cow back in Saquon to now a committee. You guys ran a lot of committee backfields in New England. What are some advantages to that sort of situation?
A: I think you just use whatever you have on your roster, whether it’s a guy like Saquon, we still have Dion Lewis who we rely heavily on, and Wayne Gallman who we rely heavily on. Obviously, Saquon’s situation, we all feel for him. He’s going to work his butt off to get back here as fast as possible. We’re happy to have Devonta. The thing I see with him is he’s a ball guy. You can tell this guy has a lot of passion for the game, he has a lot of experience, he plays hard, he practices hard. I was very impressed yesterday out at practice with the fire he practiced with, the attention to detail, how fast he picked up on a lot of our system. He’s an experienced guy, but sometimes experience in other systems doesn’t always translate over to knowing the alphabet of what you’re doing. But he really did a good job of understanding what we’re doing in practice, being able to get in the huddle, break the huddle, know what to do and do it very effectively. It was very encouraging on day one.
Q: I’m wondering, we hear so much about next man up. I’m wondering do you say anything to Wayne Gallman when you sign Freeman about why he doesn’t get that same chance to be the bell cow first? Also, I think I’ve heard you say in the past that your running backs need to be productive pass catchers. That’s an area that seems to have held Wayne back a little bit. Where is he in that regard?
A: I think Wayne does a good job for us in the pass game. So does Dion, and Devonta will help there as well. Obviously, when you have any kind of injury on the roster, it’s just natural that you’re going to look to go ahead and fill that spot for the need of the team. We don’t feel any need to explain to every player because within every game plan, every player has a role. Anybody coming in doesn’t replace somebody else who’s already here. They just add to our team. There are different strengths to every player brought in. We’re going to have to work to make sure we play to every player’s individual strengths. But we’re relying on all three of those backs very heavily, along with Eli Penny, along with the guys we have on the practice squad as well. All three of them have to play an integral part of us having success. We have to get Devonta caught up in our system. He’s done a good job of that so far. Wayne had a good day of practice for us. He did at training camp for us, as well. Dion’s been a steady player for us. He’s a tough dude who has a lot of vet experience, and he’s a great teammate.
Q: The question about backfield by committee, if some guy comes out and is ripping off yards, does he become the guy?
A: He may be the guy for that moment. Maybe he’s the guy for that game plan the way things are working and clicking. But I’d say within every specific game plan, we’re going to always look to use all of the players we have at the game, and make sure we have enough combinations to go ahead and create advantages for ourselves.
Q: With Logan Ryan, I know when you signed him, obviously, you were very familiar with him. You knew what he brought to the table. You’re sitting here in Week 3 and you’re selling the message about no white flag yesterday. When a guy who has gone through what he’s gone through, Logan, in different places and won, how much more weight does his voice carry in that locker room with the guys buying into what you’re still trying to sell now Week 3?
A: I think it’s important for players to learn from each other’s experiences. It doesn’t have to be somebody who specifically went through a system with me, or someone from the same tree as me. I think it’s just important that people learn from their own experiences, but also sharing each other’s experiences. Look, it’s a long season. We have a long way to go. It doesn’t matter what the record is. There’s a lot of improvement that has to be made across the board. Logan is definitely a respected guy in our locker room because of how he works, by how he prepares himself, and about how he holds himself. The benefit of having Logan here more than anything else is he’s a really good player for us. That’s the number one benefit. Number two, he’s a really good teammate. He’s helped with the communication on the backend, and he’s really helped bring along a lot of guys with him because he’s just that kind of a veteran player. He’s done a really good job in preparing himself and making sure we prepare as a group and as a unit, and that’s really benefited the team. Personally, I love having Logan around here. He’s fun to be around. I’ve known him since he came into the league. He’s known me since I’ve been a very young coach. We kind of grew up in a lot of ways together, figuring things out and certain things working on special teams at some point. But Logan is a guy that’s great to have on the practice field, he’s great to have in the games. He’s gone through a tremendous amount of adversity. He’s come out on both ends at different times. This is a guy, his experiences in Tennessee with going into a new program with Mike (Vrabel) and putting together a program that took a little bit of time to get rolling but eventually it paid off and they’re still moving in the right direction right now. What he went through in maybe New England through different phases of his career there. He has a lot of experience to lean on and share with other teammates. But really, all that’s truly relevant for this team is what we do here. We can learn from the experiences in the past, we have to learn from what happened in the last two games, but we have to take those experiences, learn from them and move forward to make them beneficial going forward for our team.
Q: Isaac Yiadom was obviously in a difficult position coming over. He had been practicing in a completely different defense on a different team, then he got sent to you right before the season started. I’m curious how you’ve seen him handle that? I noticed his playing time increased. Is he a guy you knew anything about before you guys brought him in?
A: Yeah, I’d say I knew about him coming out in the draft. You know all the players coming out in the draft, we study them at that point. Then we knew about him from being in the league and his days in Denver. But I would say he’s really done a good job of getting into our system and proving an understanding of the techniques with the big picture concepts as well. He’s made a lot of improvement, he’s playing aggressive, he has that mentality to him. I know now he can play more confident and aggressive just with some experience in the calls and how we’re looking to play with him. I’m glad Ike’s on our team. He’s a tough dude, he works hard every day, he’s good to have in meeting rooms, he’s great to have in the locker room.
Q: Just the other day, you said Jason has to put some ways to get Evan out there and get him the ball, and you guys are working on that. Without Saquon in the passing game, obviously, without Sterling, what do you mean by that, Jason has to figure out ways to get Evan the ball?
A: I wouldn’t look too far into that. I understand the way it came out and the way it was phrased. I wouldn’t look too far into that in terms of that. It’s just when we put together any game plan, obviously, we’re thinking with our players in mind. We’re putting together schemes that kind of fit up to what the opponent does as well. Look, we’re trying to get every player on our roster the ball, not just Evan. Obviously, when you get all of our players, they have the ability to make plays. Evan showed that the other day. I wouldn’t read too far into that quote. There was nothing kind of undermining the thinking about that. That’s just kind of thinking in general of when we get together and hash out a game plan, we’re thinking of ways to give our players advantages and make plays.
Q: Do you see Evan in some ways as a little bit of untapped potential? Everyone knows what he can do with the ball in his hands, but it’s getting him to that place.
A: You know what I look at him as? As a developing player. I think Evan’s young enough where we have not seen his best ball. But he’s a guy that works every day tirelessly. You guys saw him through training camp. This guy really empties the tank. You see him every day in practice. This guy, when you look at his GPS reports after practice in terms of yards and speed and all of that stuff, he’s a guy you have to monitor and kind of back off a little bit because this guy has no governor on himself. He goes full speed all the time. He works tirelessly. The guys respond to him. He does a great job preparing himself. He’s very mentally tough. He’s improving all the time. A lot of guys got on him after that first game in terms of where the production was. I think we saw a glimpse of that last week. He really made some good plays for us at key times, and he’ll continue to do that throughout the season when the opportunity comes his way. He doesn’t have to force it. He doesn’t have to do anything outside of his own responsibility or job. When the play comes his way, he has to be in position to go ahead and finish it. We have confidence he will.
Q: We were talking to Daniel yesterday. He talked about how when the team came off the field, Saquon was in the tunnel waiting for everybody. Obviously, he’s not going to be on the field for you guys. Do you want to keep him around? How does that process work with what he’s going to be going through in the next three months? Is he going to be at the game on Sunday?
A: Without question, we want to keep him around. There’s alot of protocols and rules this year that we have to look into in terms of how can we give him access to maybe the sideline or a booth or a box or something like that. But as much as we can have him around here, we absolutely want him to. This guy was elected captain by his teammates for a reason, and he’s an integral part of this program. He’s a very positive guy, he’s a very team-first guy. Again, the adversity he’s going through right now, he’s going to work as hard as he can. I can say that with absolute confidence. I’m very anxious to see him on the backend coming out of this thing, because I know the aggressiveness he’s preparing with. But absolutely, we want Saquon around here as much as he can. Now with that being said, day to day with his treatment and rehab and when he goes through surgery, that will obviously change his schedule a little bit. But working around his schedule, he is a part of this team. He’s a part of this team, and we want him around as much as we can have him.