Head Coach Joe Judge
December 3, 2020
Q: I was asking Jason (Garrett) earlier about Wayne Gallman and his ability to get yards. He falls forward all the time and gets tough yards. How much do you value that ability in a running back? How valuable is it to have that, where they’re always going to fall forward, they’re not going to lose yards if they can’t?
A: Wayne’s really done a good job running aggressive for us. He’s definitely doing that falling forward as you referenced. That really comes to me from just his will and effort at the end of the run to play through contact, keep his legs driving and push for that extra yard. The biggest thing he’s really shown improvement on is playing with good pad level and ball security and driving through to make sure he just drives that extra yard. That’s something you have a concern with any player early in training camp, especially, of making sure they can go ahead and keep fighting throughout the play without exposing the ball. He’s done a good job to this point of really improving on that, and I’m really happy with the way Wayne’s playing. That being said, the offensive line has done a tremendous job of opening gaps and getting it downhill. Our tight ends have done a nice job blocking for it. Then, obviously, the way Daniel (Jones) and the passing game has played opens up some of the run game as well, that when they overplay the box, the quick game and the shots down the field have been there as well for us. We’ve capitalized lately on those.
Q: Just wanted to get a status report or whatever you can give on Daniel Jones. How he came through his work with the trainers yesterday and what he might be able to do, if anything, on the field today?
A: Yeah, so we had positive reports on him yesterday. Obviously, we have to kind of see a little bit more from him today. The plan is to get him out there with the trainers, move him around a little bit, throw a little bit, see where that progresses to and what that allows him to do later in practice today or maybe what that shows what we can do with him tomorrow. Again, there are still a lot of questions more so than answers right now. I know he’s doing everything he can to get back and be with the team. He’s preparing tirelessly, he’s in the building, he’s doing everything he can like it would be any other day. I know mentally where he’s at. We just have to check physically where he’s at and make sure we make the right decision for him.
Q: I know you’re completely dialed into Sunday and Seattle, but we spoke to Saquon (Barkley) a little bit earlier this morning. I just was curious in the time that you’ve gotten to know him, he was very adamant about his confidence in coming back as good or better than ever when we spoke to him. Knowing how you’ve seen him work, do you have any doubt in that? As a follow up, is there any part of you that feels a little deprived not to have been able to coach him playing this year, as good as you’ve known him as an opposing coach?
A: I think without question, you want to have any player like Saquon on the field for you at all times. That goes without saying. I would say this, though, watching him go through adversity as a young player in the league this year really has shown me a lot about this guy as a person, and the value he really brings to your team, besides just being on the field and running with the ball. This guy could have easily cashed it out, dropped his head and said ‘woe is me.’ This guy has come in with a good attitude every day to do his rehab, to stay on track, to be there for his teammates, to continue being the captain and the leader that they selected him to be, and he’s done a tremendous job of that. I want to be fair to this guy in terms of long-term. I’m not in his body and physically I don’t know how he feels. I don’t have any kind of a timetable that I think he should be on. To me, the medical team and the trainers can only work with him and kind of have that step progression going along the way of marks he needs to hit. I just know that when he’s ready to come back physically, I want to make sure that we put him in a position that he can go out there and play as aggressive as he wants to safely, and that he can go out there and help himself and help the team. Look, I’m looking forward to getting him back, obviously. But I don’t want to go ahead and put some kind of initial timetable on it or kind of give him any kind of external predictions or marks that he feels he has to hit. This guy puts a lot of pressure on himself to be perfect, to be the best player he can be. Obviously, we know what his talent level is. It’s very, very high. This guy has been a productive player on the field now throughout his entire lifetime. I just want to let this guy get healthy, come on back and give him the opportunity to, just at his own pace, get back into playing full speed.
Q: In the past, all the time really, a long flight to Seattle means you have to face a good team and a rabid fan base. The 12s are known, you’ve been there, you know what that deal is. Have you found this year that going on the road in some ways is more difficult because you have to kind of bring your own enthusiasm? Players usually say they love to hear the other team’s fans give it to them. There is none of that now. What is your experience with the road now? Will it be very different in Seattle now, which is not going to be the same as it always is?
A: There are a couple of different levels to that question. First off, that is a great place to play. It has a great fan base, it has great energy in that stadium, they do a tremendous job. I think the one thing that really stands out about their team without the fans is they still bring a lot of natural juice themselves. Look, our message to our players is always, hey listen, when we’re on the road, it’s up to us to stand together and bring our own energy. We’re still the only 11 on the field and the same team in the locker room together. We have to go out there and we have to bring our own energy. Obviously, they’re going to have a lot of energy, they always do. I’d just say that being said, in terms of the big picture question about no fans in the stadium, look, I’m going to be honest with you, that’s something everyone in this league misses. If anyone tells you they don’t, they’re lying to you boldfaced. Whether it’s at home and they got your back, or you’re on the road and they’re all against you, either way, it’s the kind of energy you really feed off of right there. You still do have that tunnel vision when the game gets going where you zone it out and you’re locked completely in that you really don’t hear a lot of the noise on the outside. But even when you’re so zoned in that you don’t hear the noise, you still know the energy in the stadium, and the players do too on the field and on the sideline. Look, that’s a critical part of the game that we’re all looking forward to getting back, hopefully sooner than later. In terms of dealing with fans, hopefully they understand how valuable they are to the game for us.
Q: You’ve been around the league a long time, but you haven’t had much experience needing to prepare a backup quarterback. What kind of challenge does that present during the week and how much do you have to alter your offense to try to get Colt (McCoy) ready while also trying to get Daniel back on the field?
A: We prepare all of our players every week to play the entire game. That’s really been our mentality from the start. Every practice squad player, every young guy, everyone who may be in a starting or a backup or situational role, we get everyone ready every week to do everything they may have to do. Colt’s been no different. He’s done a tremendous job all year. Now while he may have had limited reps in certain weeks, he’s done a great job of doing everything he can to get himself mentally and physically ready, whether that’s playing against our defense giving the other team’s look, or whether that’s standing behind Daniel as he runs plays and getting the mental reps of declaring who the mike is, getting his dropback behind the scenes and a lot of things you can’t really see without being at practice. But every player for us we have confidence in. We expect anyone who’s at the game to give us production and perform at the level to help us have success.
Q: Simple question. If Daniel cannot play, will he travel?
A: I plan for him to travel, yes. The only thing that would ever supersede that right there, to be honest with you, is if there was any issue with COVID where we thought it was a bad measure for Daniel to go or for anyone on the team to have extra players there, or if there was a situation where we thought that the flight out there would impact the injury worse, that it would go ahead and slow the recovery. That would be the only thing. We took Saquon earlier in the year to LA. He’s a captain and we wanted him out there with the team. Same with Daniel. He’s a captain. Obviously, we’re getting him ready to play right now. We have to wait and see where his body is at. But just to give you a solid answer on that, the only thing that would slow that down would be something medically that we didn’t think was to his advantage.
Q: Where is Darius Slayton at? We saw him limited obviously on the injury report. Seattle has given up a lot of deep balls. He has kind of been your main deep threat. Can you guys push the ball without Darius in the lineup?
A: Yeah, we have a lot of guys that we can go ahead and go deep to. I think you’ve seen that throughout the tape of the year. We have a number of guys who caught the ball down the field. Obviously, Darius right now is working on getting back. You’re at a point in the year where everyone has some nicks and bruises. He’s managing some different things. But look, it’s not too different from anything he’s dealt with throughout the year. We’ll see where he is physically today and see how he’s moving around and make the decisions for him for the game going forward. But yeah, we have confidence in all of our receivers and tight ends and running backs.
Q: I’m sure like the rest of us, you’d prefer this to just be a ‘normal year.’ But is there any part of you that embraces sort of the challenges that have been presented and you have to come up with sort of creative solutions? Then how do you go about coming up with those? Is there someone in the building you’ve really leaned on? How does that process work?
A: I’d say first off, in terms of who I’ve leaned on, it’s been everyone possible. I think it’s important to use all your resources that you trust that’s in the building, and it’s using some resources outside the building as well. You want to draw on past experiences and try to find creative ways to change it up. I think a lot of it has to do with not just having some preplanned template, but seeing where the flow of the team is, getting feedback from your players and understanding what they need coming up to kind of best help them be prepared. In terms of the whole normal year thing, look, I worked for a guy for a few years that every day I heard him say ‘adapt or die.’ That’s kind of been the mentality. You go into it and you expect it to be one thing. Whatever comes up, you adjust, you get the players to adjust, and you move forward. Sudden change is really a way that we build everything in our program in. We want to make sure that we can play on our toes and we can think on our toes, and whatever comes our way on a daily basis, we’re just ready to adjust.
Q: Along those lines, I know you’ve created a ton of contingency plans for different things throughout this season. But playing a Wednesday game like the Ravens and Steelers just did, is that something that you can create a contingency plan for, how to hold a week of practice and how to conduct yourselves if that were to come to pass, God forbid?
A: Yeah, I think what you have to look at is in terms of when you find out when the game is going to be played. If I know it’s going to be on a Wednesday, when do we find out? I think both of those teams did a tremendous job of keeping their players ready and moving and mentally locked in. But obviously, you have to know, there are circumstances around that. When do you find out? Who do you have available? Who’s the opponent? Is it home or away? But I think you tie into some of the other things you would do in either a shorter week, like a Thursday game. Can you go ahead and abbreviate the practice week in that nature? Or is it more of a longer week like we came off the Thursday and then went and played Tampa on that Monday night game and had a little bit of a longer week. You want to try to draw from some of the things that you’ve done with familiarity so it’s not too much of a shock to the system of the players. But again, you just want to make sure you adjust and give them whatever they need going forward. I think with those teams, and I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but if it was us in that situation, it may not be so much the Wednesday game but the following game that you really have to have a solid plan for of getting your players back, getting them healthy, and how you can have them recover and then go compete in a short window going forward.