Head Coach Joe Judge
December 2, 2020
Opening Statement: Today we’ve kind of started all of our focus on Seattle. Moving forward, we’ll work today through Friday, we’ll fly out there early on Saturday and stay throughout the weekend, return on Monday. Obviously, this is a very explosive team in all three phases of the ball. Starting on offense, obviously, Russell Wilson is one of the top players in the league. He has a ton of top targets, whether it’s throwing it deep down to (D.K.) Metcalf or (Tyler) Lockett or handing the ball off to one of their backs. They all run strong, physical, downhill. It’s a big, explosive, size-speed team. Offensively, they pose a number of problems that we have to go ahead and start working on today to give ourselves a chance.
Defensively, this team has been very consistent schematically throughout the year. Obviously, Ken (Norton Jr.) does a great job drawing from his experience throughout the years in this system, really tying together the front with the backend. They’ve really started to turn it on these last five games. Twenty-two sacks I believe is the number, and they’ve really been going ahead and making a big difference right there. The backend is very opportunistic. They have those long, size-speed corners, and those safeties come on down. Obviously, (Jamal) Adams is one of the top players in the league. This guy is a headache for whoever he plays against right there. Whether it’s making plays on tipped balls in coverage or being a rusher, both off the edge or coming off forward to stop a run in the box down low, this guy poses a number of problems you have to really account for.
The kicking game, look, I see their players playing the way they’re coached. You watch Larry Izzo as a player, that’s what he is as a coach. His players play keyed in, they’re very intentional, they have a great sense of urgency. I think he has a group of guys out there right now who really play the way he played. They’re really buying into what he’s doing. You can see on tape the identity really jumps out at you. Obviously, there are a lot of things we have to work on this week. We’ll get started today. That being said, any questions I can answer, we can open it up right now.
Q: You talked so much about progress. You have a lot of young guys who have never played meaningful December football. Can that accelerate progress for young guys? Can that teach them things that they might not learn otherwise?
A: I think you have to learn from every situation you’re in. Whether it’s a meaningful game in September, October, November or December, we have to learn from every experience we have. It’s our duty not only to learn from when we’re on the field, but also learn from making mistakes. We’re going to have mistakes. We can’t repeat mistakes. We have to make sure we keep moving forward and learn from that. Obviously, going on the road as a young guy and playing in a tough environment like Seattle, with or without fans, you’re playing against a great team, coached very well, plays with a high sense of urgency and energy. It’s a tough place to go out there and play. It’s an experience that these guys will get to learn from and go forward with their careers. I’d just say just in general terms, to me, any time of year you’re playing, obviously, the stakes keep getting higher. The competition gets tougher as the year goes on because teams have played together longer, they’ve created more chemistry, everyone has gotten a little better as a team at this point right here, and the players across the league all have more experience playing next to each other. The competition continues to get tougher, and that’s just the nature of the NFL.
Q: What’s the plan with Daniel (Jones) this week in terms of easing him back into seeing what he can do or are you going to throw him right out there? Where is he at physically? Just curious where everything stands with Daniel as of today?
A: Really, we’re waiting to hear a lot of feedback from the trainers, to be honest with you. He came in today, deep in the playbook and ready to work. We’ll see some stuff with the trainers today. Today is going to be kind of a practice work hybrid structure. Some early practice, individual and group periods. Then we’re going to have kind of a team walkthrough on the backend today after some conditioning. We’ll kind of see what he’s able to do, and that will really help us plan out more tomorrow and Friday going forward.
Q: Is he a guy that if the trainers kind of say to limit him, you have to talk him off the ledge and not have him do too much to risk reinjuring it going into the week?
A: I think like a lot of our guys, Daniel is a guy that is very competitive. He has a tremendous work ethic and he’s a very tough guy. You have to kind of pull a lot of these guys back because they’re coming in wired with the mindset that they’re getting ready for a game. As coaches, it’s our responsibility sometimes to protect players from themselves.
Q: I have a big picture question and a Seattle question. I’ll start with the Seattle question. How do you prepare for a wide receiver like Metcalf in terms of having the cornerbacks go up against a bigger body like that?
A: You have to find the best guy on your team who can at least kind of simulate some of the size. But listen, this guy is a rare guy. You try to simulate his size and speed and playmaking down the field. You don’t have a lot of guys walking the earth like him. The reality is, you have to do everything you can to give your players the right looks from tape, the right looks in practice, the scout teams. We have to work to prepare each other the best possible. But look, we all understand this guy is a tremendous player. He’s an elite player in the league. We can’t do anything to just flat out replicate it, so we have to do the best we can in practice, and then prepare our guys mentally so when they see him on the field, they understand it’s going to be different than what they’ve necessarily seen in practice.
Q: The big picture question is, you’ve spoken all year about making progress and working towards a vision. Now you’re at the end of the season, and the vision and the playoffs are sort of in reach. What takes precedence if they come into conflict? Any kind of an in-game decision, maybe a roster decision, maybe a starting quarterback.
A: Look, our intention is always to just keep improving as a team every week. I know it looks like we’re down in the home stretch, but we still have five games to go. Right now, there is a third of the season pretty much that still has to be played. There’s a lot of football left to be played, and we have to keep that in mind. Over the course of the next five weeks, we have to make tremendous improvement as a team. That being said, we’re going to always do everything we can to give our players a chance to be successful out there. We’re going to always look to put the players in the best position to play to their strengths. We’ll use our personnel however we need to to give ourselves an advantage. Whether that’s changing somebody in the lineup or changing something schematically by a game plan, we’re going to always do what’s best for the team.
Q: What do you think has been the key to the run game improvement? Did you have to do anything much different than what you had planned when you had Saquon in the lineup?
A: I think the line has obviously throughout the year worked together and made a lot of improvement. I think there’s a reflection of how these guys have been able to compete through games together and how that’s improved. It’s tough to simulate some of that stuff in practice. We do everything we can. We did everything we could competitively through training camp. The nature of it is you really want to use them in the games. Preseason games are key. We didn’t have those. I’ve seen a tremendous amount of improvement week by week in game action from the line. In terms of scheme, we’ve changed it a little bit each week based on who we’re playing and also who we have available. In terms of what we would do when we had Saquon, I can see a lot of the things we’re doing right now, Saquon would have a lot of success doing. Wayne’s (Gallman) doing a lot of stuff right now. Alfred’s (Morris) doing a lot of stuff right now and Devonta (Freeman) when he was healthy, a lot of the same thing. We may tweak a game plan week by week. Ultimately, we’re trying to find an identity each week in what we want to be in that game plan and play physically and aggressively to it.
Q: Will Colt McCoy get all the first team reps?
A: We’ll actually vary that a little bit. Colt will take the majority of them. We’ll have to see where Daniel is at physically and what he can do with the trainers. Until we have that answer, I can’t give you an absolute answer right now. We’ll kind of roll (Clayton) Thorson through as well and make sure he gets his share of reps and we’ll have everyone prepared to play.
Q: What is your level of confidence with Colt?
A: I have a lot of confidence in Colt. The way this guy comes to work every day and prepares. Every chance he gets to get on the field and compete. I’ve been able to coach against this guy and now he is with us right now. You can see how competitive this guy is. He’s got a lot of instincts, a lot of savvy. He draws from his experience. He’s a tough dude, he’s mentally tough, he’s physically tough. He’s a guy that’s very well respected on this team, in the locker room and on the field. The guys really like Colt, they rally around him just like they do Daniel. He’s a guy that puts a lot of confidence in the players in the huddle. I always talk about you want a quarterback who is going to step in the huddle with 10 sets of eyes looking at him knowing this guy is going to give them the answer. I think Colt is that guy and Daniel is that guy. We have a number of guys on this team that can step in the huddle with command and really go ahead and give guys confidence. I have ton of confidence in Colt and I have a ton of confidence in Daniel.
Q: How is Daniel feeling?
A: I can’t speak for specifically on how he’s feeling. I know he’s here today working very hard, doing everything he can.
Q: How curious are you to gauge the progress that you guys have made since the beginning of the season with the opportunity to do it against one of the conference’s best teams?
A: I think when you want to compete, you want to compete against the best. We’re going to get an opportunity this week to go against one of the best teams in the league. Through the course of Pete (Carroll) being there, they’ve always been very competitive. Been very successful, they get after you on defense. They play very physical on offense in the run game. They can also get downfield, they are very explosive. One of the top quarterbacks in the league year in and year out, if not the top. They obviously have a couple receivers that are among the top in the league. In the kicking game, this team can really flip the field. They’ve got good specialists. You’ve got to get ready to play on a long field with (Michael) Dickson punting the ball. He puts that thing on down there a pinch inside the 10-yard line. Your offense has to be ready for backed-up series and moving the ball down the field. This team is definitely going to give us everything we can handle. We’ve got a long week of preparing. Make sure we’re crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s. You can’t go out there half (inaudible) against this team.
Q: I know you’re aware of everything. You weren’t with the Giants when Wellington Mara was still with us. His goal was always for his Giants to play meaningful games in December. I’m just curious if John Mara has said anything to you about that at any point? Are you aware that for this franchise, you are realizing one of its long standing goals and something it hasn’t done a lot of lately.
A: I’ve had a lot of conversations with John throughout the season. I’ll keep that between us. I think everyone’s goal at some point in the season is to make sure that you’re relevant and meaningful down the stretch. That being said, we’ve really kept the focus week by week this year. We’re going to keep it right there right now. Just weekly improvement.
Q: What impressed about how Niko Lalos came in there and made some big plays? It was his first real NFL action. What has he shown you behind the scenes to build up to the point where in Week 12 you were confident throwing him out there like you did?
A: Any time someone shows in practice they can make plays on a consistent basis, we have no problem putting him in the game. That’s really it. If you show it to us in practice, we’ll do it in the game. That’s kind of always been our attitude. He’s a guy that week by week has made constant improvement. This guy plays on special teams for us, he plays on the defense for us. He also plays on the scout team as a fullback and a tight end. This guy has shown a lot of improvement throughout the year. I think the one thing that’s very impressive about this guy is whether it’s in training camp where he’s the last out of the building and he’s knocking on T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) and Tom’s (Quinn) door wanting to talk about the kicking game with them or it’s the bye week and he’s asking Pat Graham can we zoom and talk about some of the scheme stuff. This is a guy that works really, really tirelessly. We saw him do things like you saw on Sunday. We’ve seen it throughout the year in practice. The opportunity came up for him. I think what will impress you about any player is when the opportunity arises, does the preparation show up. I think it did with Niko. I’m proud of how he played. We’re excited to see him going forward. I think he’s got a lot of growth left in him. I think he has an opportunity to be a very good player in this league. He works hard every day to give himself the opportunity to improve.