Head Coach Joe Judge
October 15, 2020
Q: We talked a lot about Andrew Thomas going up against elite pass rushers, a lot of veterans. Is this a little bit more of a fairer fight for him this week because he’s going up against another rookie?
A: I think it’s a fair fight every week for everyone in the NFL. You expect talent on both sides of the ball. He’s seen really a level of elite pass rushers, that changes nothing this week. Look, (Chase) Young and (Montez) Sweat, these guys are really, really good coming off the edge. They’re both explosively fast, they’re both athletic and they do a great job instinctively of understanding when you’re oversetting of coming underneath, and if you’re staying too tight, of running by you with speed. They do a great job of getting to the quarterback, putting pressure on him and forcing bad throws that gives the DBs behind them opportunities. But in terms of Andrew, him and Cam (Fleming) both are going to have a tremendous challenge this week. They’re preparing hard right now, and we have to get out on the grass and do it.
Q: Where is Sterling (Shepard) at in his recovery? Is he going to be on the field at all this week?
A: We’re going to see him today a little bit because he was with the trainers yesterday during the walkthrough. We weren’t going to put him through a walkthrough for no reason. I’ll see how he’s moving around today and see where that leads into Sunday. But today will be a decision-making day for a lot of our guys.
Q: We’ve talked a lot about Daniel (Jones) getting more comfortable in this offense. Is this a tough system for a quarterback?
A: I think we just need to give everybody an opportunity to learn the system, get comfortable with it and keep moving forward and making adjustments by game plans. But Daniel’s been coming to work hard every day. Look, he’s been making a lot of progress. There’s a lot of good football to learn from. He’s doing a lot of things to help this team. I’m very pleased with his effort, his attitude, his leadership on the team. The guys respond to him. Daniel’s our guy and we’re going with him.
Q: It wasn’t really a Daniel question. I just mean does this offense ask a lot of the quarterback? Maybe some offenses are a little simpler for quarterbacks. Does this one put a lot on the quarterback?
A: I think Jason (Garrett) does a good job of making really everything in this offense friendly to the players in a lot of ways. If there’s ever something we have to change and adjust to the players, I think Jason does a good job of doing that.
Q: I’m sure you’ve heard the expression when you’re preparing for a game, ‘this team has guys that keep coaches up at night.’ What does that mean to you? Then I have a follow-up.
A: Yeah, I don’t sleep much anyway, but these guys are very talented.
Q: Just in general, when you prepare for a team and there’s a couple of guys that you point out and say, ‘we can’t let these guys beat us.’ That’s how good they are.
A: I’ll tell you right now, on both sides of the ball, they have a tremendous amount of talent. I think when you talk about their offense, the backs, (Terry) McLaurin, (Dontrelle) Inman in the red area, (Logan) Thomas on third down and the red area, these guys, they’ve really done a great job of creating plays for them. Really identifying and targeting them in certain packages, and they’ve really been productive. We need to do a really good job of tackling them in space. They can all do a good job of catching and running with the ball after the catch. Defensively, obviously, we can talk about the front all day. They’re all very talented, a ton of first round draft picks, which comes with just being a very talented player. Look, they’re a penetrating defensive line. It creates a lot of disruption. To me, the guys who really take opportunities off the front behind are the linebackers, with (Jon) Bostic and (Kevin) Pierre-Louis. Obviously, the DBs on the backend have done a great job. They play a lot of zone. They have great eye control in their zone drops and have vision on the quarterback. When bad throws come out, especially when you’re throwing across the field like you’ve seen a lot with their turnovers, they do a great job of breaking and taking advantage of that ball right there. In terms of keeping you up at night, I think you’re just talking about impact players, and this team has a lot of impact players across the board. They’ve amassed a lot of talent on this roster. They’ve done a great job of building right there. We have a challenge ahead of us.
Q: Quick follow-up. Do you think your team has guys like that that when teams prepare for you, do they say you have guys that keep guys up at night, impact players like that?
A: Yeah, I’m very confident with everyone on our roster. I think we have a good level of talent. We’re moving to make sure that we get on the same wave every week, and that we give each team a chance to succeed. As far as us, look, we’re not looking to make this a team full of stars. We’re not looking to make this an individuals team. This is a team. We walk in that locker room, everyone is on the same page, take the field with the same attitude. In terms of what someone thinks about our guys individually on the other side, I’m more focused on making them understand that as a team what we’re about.
Q: I’m curious if you addressed the losing with your team. I’m not trying to be a bad guy with the question and I’m not suggesting it’s a permanent state for you and the Giants. But the idea that you have said you’re pleased with the effort, preparation, that kind of thing, but the losses have mounted. Do you address losing?
A: We’re very honest with all of the results we have. We talk every week in terms of where we’re at as a team, what we’ve done well, what we’ve done that needs to be improved on. That ties into obviously tangible results on the field with wins and losses. It’s a production business. We’re all very conscious and aware of that. It’s my job to make sure they understand what we need to do better, what we need to clean up. But then it’s also my job to highlight and show them where they’ve made improvements and where we’ve made progress as a team, so they understand what we have really to build with.
Q: If I can follow. Particularly because of the organization you came from, do you believe a team has to learn how to win? No matter the talent, no matter who makes the play, a team learns how to win and then it becomes not easier, because I know that’s not a word the NFL uses, but it becomes something that can be expected?
A: I’ll say this. I’ve heard that a lot lately. Everyone talking about learning how to win, teaching them how to win. This is my belief on that. You don’t win in the 60th minute. There is not some magic formula, there’s not some grand scheme playbook that you come out with that this is how you win games. The way you win games is playing every play with the best technique, assignment and focus you can, eliminating mistakes and capitalizing on your opponent’s mistakes. That’s really the secret. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. I say that to our team a lot. We just try to keep football for what it is. I don’t mean to just generalize that right there, but to me, that’s the way I address it to our team. I have no problem saying that publicly. But the secret to winning is just doing your job for 60 minutes, and that’s what it comes down to.
Q: It seems every month we’re talking about COVID. Do you sit there and shake your head when you hear Nick Saban has tested positive?
A: He’ll probably beat COVID. He has a pretty good record against every other opponent, so I’m confident Coach will come through there. But look, we need to be conscious on what’s going on around the league, to be honest with you. You look at some of the other teams that have shut down. You’re very conscious in terms of maybe teams you’ve had exposure to as opponents. I think you see some of the teams that have popped up after playing other teams with a case here, a case there. The biggest thing we do here is on a daily basis, we just enforce the protocols. We stay on it, we harp it. Look, I’m not going to lie to you and act like it’s some magic bubble we live in. Coaches and players all get tired of hearing, ‘stay spaced out, make sure your mask is on, stay apart, make sure your tracer is not blinking.’ All of that stuff, it’s day in, day out of saying the same things over and over. There’s a natural just wear on you as a person, but you have to stay committed. As we’ve addressed it with our team, hey look, not one of us opted out. We all opted into this league. We chose this year at the beginning of the year that we were going to go through this, and we were going to make the necessary sacrifices and adjustments it was going to take to have a successful season. These protocols are all part of it. We didn’t think it was going to be easy. We knew there were going to be challenges. It’s still early in the season. We’re roughly about a third of the way through. There are going to be other things that come up. There is going to be something that happens locally and close by that we have to guard ourselves against. We just have to keep educating our players, educating our coaching staff and our support staff, and make sure we stay on it day by day. But we’re definitely not blind to it. We’re not putting our head in the sand with it. We’re very, very conscious of what’s going on. Just like we’re educating our players every day on hydrating and stretching and recovering, it’s the same thing every day. You go on trips and you may have a group of guys that don’t travel. We have a meeting every week where we talk to them and basically remind them, ‘look, you have a responsibility and obligation to the team of staying safe and not exposing yourself to something while we’re gone.’ The guys that come on the trip, they’re on the plane with us, they’re on a bus with us, in the stadium and then we come back together. When you leave, whether it may be a practice squad guy, an IR guy, whatever it may be, they have to make really tough decisions but important decisions for the team. It’s easy for them to say, ‘I have 72 hours away from the team until I have to be back at a team function. I can go out’ and whatever it may be. Go get something to eat, go to a party, hang out with some girl, whatever it may be. We have to make the right decisions and make sure that we’re smart about who we’re around and how we conduct ourselves.
Q: I’m not sure if you spoke to Nick, Mike Vrabel, you probably spoke to him sometime in the last few weeks. Are there any tweaks or anything you’ve learned or things you guys might have changed seeing what’s going on in other places?
A: No, I don’t think it’s any drastic changes. Obviously, the league came out with a lot of revised protocols, so we’re obviously following those as they say to. The biggest thing is just reminding each other, ‘hey, if you see something, say something.’ Look, when I stand in front of the team, they all have these tracers on them. Half of them wear it like on a bracelet. I’m standing up there, if I’m seeing blinking red lights, I have to stop what I’m doing in terms of the football meeting and say, ‘hey, you two, spread out.’ You just need to be committed to it as the meeting goes on, as the day goes on, enforcing the things that are necessary.
Q: On a separate note for a second, Markus Golden. He’s a guy who, he’s been a starter in this league, he’s been a 10-sack guy. He wasn’t playing that much the first four weeks of the season. Did you have to speak to him? How did you have to handle that knowing that, to explain to him that his role was, at least for the first four games, going to be smaller than it was in previous years?
A: I can’t speak on previous years. This is my first time coaching him, our first time coaching him. We’re very clear explaining to our players really on a weekly basis what their role in the game is, what the game plan may call for and what they have to be ready for. But I’d say this, there hasn’t been much talking necessary to get Markus going. He works hard every day. This guy is a tremendous team guy. He’s come in with a positive attitude on a daily basis. He does whatever we ask him to. Look, through the game plans, sometimes we may have a bigger focus on something throughout the week, and then you get into action and it just changes. You may think this is more of a sub pass rush game, and all of a sudden you get into it and they’re running the ball more and you have to play more base defense to stop the run instead of rushing the passer based on the flow of the game. All of our players, we ask them just to do what’s best for the team on a weekly basis. Markus has done a tremendous job with that.