Head Coach Joe Judge
November 5, 2020
Q: Several times this year, you have used a timeout right after the other team has used one. I know they’re all unique situations, but do you view that as if you have one available, there’s no risk in kind of using it to see maybe what the offense came out in and just using it strategically because you have it?
A: There are all different situations in terms of it. Maybe you’re trying to sneak a look at what they’re doing. Maybe there’s an adjustment you want to make to your own defense or maybe it’s a situation where it could be a kicking situation as well. They’re all unique. If you have one, you think it’s the right time to use it. Ultimately, you’d like to save your timeouts as much as you could for the end of the game. But there are certain situations that may tie into scoring situations, third or fourth down go-for-it situations, or sometimes just within the middle of the drive, you have to go ahead and stop the clock right there and make an adjustment.
Q: I don’t have to remind you there’s only one win so far, and you’re playing the team you have it against. Is there anything you draw from that this week when you talk to the players in terms of either X’s and O’s or just sort of recapturing the feeling of that win afterwards and things like that?
A: No, the only thing that’s relevant from the last time we played this team is what we can learn about ourselves and how we matched up with them individually, and schematically how they tried to attack us. But they’ve made adjustments as well. We went into the last game plan based on the tape before our game. You go through our game, there were things they did different than we expected. Then they played Dallas and obviously had an explosive game. Then they had a bye week, which gives them time to make adjustments internally. I don’t expect to see the same team. They’ve been playing at a very explosive level. They’re very talented. I don’t expect to see the same game plan from them. We can’t go in and just think it’s going to be the same game. Obviously, it’s the same uniforms, but they’re going to make adjustments. We have to make adjustments as well.
Q: You guys claimed Dante Pettis on waivers. I was just wondering what made you guys want to go and get him and what do you like about him as a receiver? He obviously has experience as a returner from college that was pretty prolific, too.
A: I think there were a lot of guys who had exposure to him from when he came out from college, as you just referred to. He has a level of talent, we’d like to see him in the building and give him a chance to get out there and work. But we’re always looking at the waiver all the time and trying to see if there’s any way we can add someone to our roster we think can help. He won’t be available for a few days until he’s through the protocol to get into our program. It gives him a little bit of a window of time to travel and kind of get acclimated. It gives us a little bit of a window of time with the current roster right here. But we have a spot open right now. We’re only at 52 until he officially counts.
Q: You said you expect for everything to be business as usual with Golden (Tate) today. Did he report and is it business as usual?
Q: You’re obviously a first-time head coach, sort of a blank slate. How aware are you with every decision you make, you’re setting a precedent, whether it’s what you did with Golden or with Andrew Thomas for being late? How aware are you of how that’s setting a precedent?
A: Yeah, I’m conscious that my decisions will always be looked at throughout the building and for every decision I make. The biggest thing I have to do is be consistent in the decisions I make based on the circumstances involved. I have a philosophy, we have team rules that are clearly laid out to our players. There is not a lot of gray area in anything we do as a program. It’s what it is.
Q: I have a different question but just to follow up on that for a second, did you feel the need to talk about this specific case with the entire team? What’s the thinking behind that when you get into these situations?
A: Yeah, I address decisions with the team on a regular basis. If something happens, I’ll talk to them in the squad meeting or I’ll address the captains individually or as a group. But whoever needs to be communicated with, I always keep them in the loop.
Q: Also, what have you thought about your defense this year? How much more are you able to throw at the guys now maybe that you’re midway through the season than you were early in the season?
A: At this point in the season, they’re used to some of the multiples we’re dealing with. It’s given them some time, working with Pat (Graham) and those coaches, they’ve really gotten kind of a feel of being on the same page as them. You can see the players able to handle more right now. Not because they couldn’t handle it mentally before. It just was a new system. There are a lot of details in terms of how you want to do things. When I turned the tape on from the other night, I saw our defense doing a lot of things that we’ve been working on one way or another over the last, call it a month or so, that are really starting to take shape in the way that we really pictured with the details, the understanding, the adjustments, the communication. That’s moving in the right direction. I think Pat’s doing a great job with that. The entire defensive staff does a tremendous job in terms of trying to find the right matchups for our guys and the right plan on a weekly basis.
Q: You talk all the time about things you’ll tolerate on the team with the players and things you need to improve with the team with the players. But you always mention the coaches with that, too. Players and coaches. Is this a sign of how demanding you are with your staff? Also, do you look at this as a growing staff also that needs to improve along with the players?
A: I need to improve, every coach on the staff needs to improve, every player needs to improve. That’s our job. On a daily basis, we have to come in and be better than we were the day before. There are no exceptions, no matter what your record is, what point you are in your career. That never stops. Improvement has to be the constant right there. But the reason I talk about the coaches is because, yeah, we’re all held accountable. We’re all responsible for how our players are playing, how our units are playing and how our team is playing. That’s our job. We’re measured by the results on the field. Every coach is held accountable like every player is held accountable. It starts with me.
Q: What did you think of Andrew Thomas the other day? Did you think that he took a step forward?
A: Yeah, I’ve seen this guy take a step forward every week. I thought he did a good job the other night, along with Shane (Lemieux) and Matt (Peart) and Nick (Gates) and Cam (Fleming) and Kevin (Zeitler). I thought they all played a good game, played a tough game. There were obviously plays you turn on you have to correct technique or maybe an assignment or communication thing. That’s always going to happen. We’re always striving for the perfect game, but within that, we’re all perfectionists so we’re always going to find something to go ahead and pick on and make sure we tweak and improve. That being said, this guy has been playing with great effort every game. He’s been doing a really good job coming to work every day and just putting the team first and doing everything we ask him to do.
Q: Logan (Ryan) shared with us yesterday the story about what had transpired with his wife and the medical situation. But he told the story I think to kind of praise you and the organization and what you’re trying to build. Can you shed any light in terms of your approach when something like this happens with a player? I know earlier this season, what happened with Derrick Dillon and letting him go home and come back. How important is that, to let your players know that that’s the way things work within your program?
A: I think you need to keep things in perspective. There are some things that a guy may come to you and you say, ‘hey look, we can’t miss practice or a game for that.’ There are other things that are real life critical. You have to have relationships with your players that you understand what makes them tick, and they have to have a relationship with you to understand that you have their best interests at heart. We’re very demanding of our players. I don’t apologize for that. I’m not going to apologize for that. I’m very critical of our guys and I’m very blunt and honest with them. But at the same time, if you generally care about the players you’re coaching, then you can coach them hard and you can be critical, because they understand at the end of the day that you’re coming from a genuine place and you’re being sincere to try and help them. I don’t want to go too far into Logan’s situation. Pat (Hanlon) mentioned to me earlier that he had shared that story. To me, look, there comes a point where you have to keep in perspective that your job, no matter what the profession is, is your job and your family is your family. You have to take care of your family first. I’ve known Logan for some time. He’s a tremendous family man. But for any player in our locker room, if they have a similar situation, it’s always going to be you put your family first. That’s something I played and worked for a lot of coaches that have always put those priorities in line. The few exceptions that I’ve been around, more in the avenue of assistants that didn’t put those things in priority, it was tough to buy into what they were trying to sell to me in the position room, to be honest with you. They kind of lost me pretty fast as a player. I always took that with me when I got into coaching that you can’t make it all about the X’s and O’s. As a coach, I can’t ever let players feel any kind of pressure that we may feel as coaches. That’s not their job. It’s our job as a team to perform and improve. But I’m a very big believer in relationships within a team. It kind of ties in a lot to what I said yesterday in terms of keeping things internally. That helps as far as keeping these relationships strong and building that trust we need to get through a lot of situations.