Head Coach Joe Judge
December 9, 2020
Opening Statement: I appreciate your time today. I’ll start out real quick just offering our thoughts and prayers to Coach (Ray) Perkins’ family. Coach was a guy who touched a lot of lives in the National Football League as well as college football. There are a lot of relationships around this country with him. Personally, I’ve had some crossover with Coach through his time coming through Tuscaloosa when I was down there, as well as some contact early in my tenure here. But I appreciate everything he did for me, the time he shared with me, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
That being said, we’ve moved on all of our focus today past Seattle. We’re on to the Cardinals now. This is a team that’s very explosive. This is a very talented team. There are a lot of people on this team that can make a difference on all sides of the ball. I think it starts right away with the way the team is built. That starts with the head coach and how he calls it and how he gets the offense moving. Kliff (Kingsbury) does a great job in terms of scheme, using tempo, really creating matchups for his players and letting them play to their strengths. This quarterback (Kyler Murray) is obviously a dynamic player. I’ve been asked a lot of questions relative to how is he similar to Russell Wilson. I think these are very different players, but both are very good with similar skillsets in terms of being able to run and throw. But he’s totally his own player. This guy does a great job improvising on his feet, extending plays, keeping his eyes down field and making big throws. He has a rocket for an arm, and this guy can be as aggressive as he wants to because he’s very, very accurate with the ball. You put that along with the receivers he has to throw to. This is a group of weapons that’s very explosive. Offensively though, it really starts with the running game with them. (Kenyan) Drake and (Chase) Edmonds, these guys are both having good seasons. They do a very good job of getting the ball downhill at you. They have a very good zone run game. They’ll also mix up some game plan runs and pulls and gap schemes. Kliff does a good job of mixing that in with the tempo and keeping you on your toes.
Vance (Joseph) on the defensive side, he really coordinates it from the backend aspect of it. He’s done a very good job mixing looks. This is a blitz heavy team. We have to be alert for a lot of movement, a lot of pressure throughout the game plan. They do a very good job of changing up on you. They’ll blitz linebackers, DBs, whoever’s involved, everyone is going to get a turn. He keeps it very multiple and will spin it on you.
Then jumping over to special teams, Jeff Rodgers is one of the more aggressive coaches in the league. He does a very good job. His units are always very well prepared, and he calls a game to make big plays, so we have to be on our toes in all three phases. We have a lot to prepare for this week. We have a lot of ground to cover on this opponent. That being said, I’ll open it up to any questions you may have.
Q: You probably saw on the tape that the Cardinals were rotating some interior offensive linemen last week, and they’ve done that a few times. I’m wondering just in your opinion why you think it’s so prevalent for teams to rotate on the defensive line, but why it’s so rare to see that on the offensive line?
A: I think the old-school school of thought is you want to have five guys operating as one unit on the offensive line, whereas the defensive line you’re trying to keep guys fresh. For us, we’re in a similar situation. We’re rotating a lot of our offensive linemen right now. We’ve taken that approach in terms of number one, developing as many players as we can. Number two, keeping guys as fresh as we can so that throughout the course of the game, we feel that we’re better prepared. I don’t know if that’s their reason for it. It’s working for them, they’re doing a good job, they’re developing a lot of players, and they’ve been effective. These guys protect the quarterback as well as anybody in the league.
Q: The question is about Kyler Murray and bottling him up. Some teams have been able to do that successfully, a lot of them lately. What are your thoughts about how he’s looked and if he’s looked a little different? How much of a threat is he still, despite maybe having going through some pains right now?
A: This dude is a threat every time he’s got the ball, which is basically every play. Obviously, we’re going to talk to our team about trying to limit his extended plays and trying to keep him from really making explosive plays with his feet. That’s a lot easier said than done. There are a lot of things we’re going to have to do in practice this week to get us prepared for that. I think the thing that’s, I don’t want to say unique, but very special about him is he throws the ball equally as well when he rolls to his right or his left. A lot of quarterbacks are very heavy to roll out to their dominant hand so they can throw on the run. This guy does a tremendous job of throwing back across his body. He can throw at different arm angles, whether he’s throwing it sidearm or over the top. The ball comes at you so quick with this guy, and he’s just ridiculously accurate. You can see that baseball background how this guy just gets that thing in there. He’s very accurate, puts you in tight windows, he’s very aggressive with it, and he has very sure-handed receivers that are used to catching balls in tight spaces. They make big plays as a result.
Q: You mentioned Ray Perkins before. Are you able to share maybe one or two things he has told you and helped you with as a coach? Are you familiar with his legacy with the Giants, though it was many years ago?
A: I am familiar with it, yes I am. I’ve had a lot of conversations with both coaches who have worked under him as well as coaches to come after him, both here and down in Tuscaloosa as well. Actually, the first time I met Coach Perkins, I was actually working at Southern Miss. for a spring and he was at a junior college down the road. He came up and watched us practice one day and we just spent some time talking. I had just come from Alabama, he had been at Alabama obviously through his time. We shared some stories about Tuscaloosa. But he spent a lot of time with me that day actually talking about being a young coach and really working with players and developing the players. That was the biggest thing that he really shared with me, and that’s a message that’s been echoed to me by a lot of people I’ve been around that have been very successful. The development of the players is what he really hammered me with, and that really came after a spring practice and watching a lot of young guys out there trying to plug guys around and find the right spot for them. He was just sharing some wisdom along ‘hey listen, give everybody an opportunity to improve and don’t make your mind up too early from what you think someone can do.’
Q: Joe, when you look back at when you came here, what was the most crucial thing you installed in this team to change the culture?
A: You know, I think with me I’ve always had a big belief in just discipline and accountability. I think the accountability to your teammates – and that’s coach to coach, coach to player, player to player, player to coach – we all have to be accountable to one another and that’s in how we work, in how we prepare and that’s in whatever the result of our preparation is. Don’t make any excuses, just call it what it is, be honest with each other. If we’re transparent and we’re honest, we can all go ahead and improve and move on. But to me, it’s just about being accountable to each other and that discipline comes with that as well because if you know you have to own up to the man next to you, if they’re counting on you, then you have to do everything it takes to be successful.
Q: Hey Joe, what has turned around the running game? I think you have seven in a row now with at least 100 yards rushing. And did you have a [Quarterback] Daniel [Jones] update?
A: As far as Daniel, we’re going to give him an opportunity today to move around the field. We’re still in that point of the week where I haven’t seen him do anything physical yet this week since the last week really. We’ll see him move around today. We’re optimistic, I know he’s going to tell us everything we want to hear, we’ve got to again use our eyes instead of our ears with Daniel, so we’re going to put him out there today and make sure we give him a chance to progress. Today’s a walkthrough, tomorrow we’ll be on the field moving around and then Friday will be a big day for us to kind of make a final decision hopefully going into the weekend. In terms of the run game, I don’t think ‘turn around’ is probably the right phrase for it. I think what I just see is consistent improvement and these guys have worked hard day in and day out. Look, we’ve adjusted schematically based on what we do well and how we can have an advantage over certain opponents. Our guys have been very fluid in what we’ve asked them to do. They’ve really bought into the techniques we’re teaching and they’ve done everything they can to master them, so to me I think it’s just the cumulative work they’re putting throughout the season and just seeing one day stack on top of the other.
Q: Hey Joe, I know you’re not looking at this in any way, shape or form yet, but I’m going to ask you about it. Your game was flexed in Week 15, the Browns game. I’m sure you’ll play them at 1 a.m. or 1 p.m., whenever they tell you to play, but the fact that that is a national sign that your team is now relevant, your team is in a playoff chase. You know what’s coming with your team as far as the pressure with that, the outside noise with that. How do you keep that away – you were in it for every year you were with the Patriots – but also really embrace it maybe?
A: Yeah, I think just the focus has to always be on what we’re doing right now and the process of getting ready for the Cardinals. The fact that the game was flexed, to be completely transparent and honest with you, we’ll play whenever. We’re so fortunate to be able to go out there – and we talked about it as a team today – we’re fortunate to be able to go out there and play football. There was a period this summer where we’re all sitting there on phone calls and talking to each other of ‘Are we going to have a season? Is it going to start late? How are we going to get this thing going?’ To be at the point we are in the season right now, we’re just very fortunate to be playing. But in terms of the pressure and the noise outside, you just have to keep your focus on what you’re doing immediately. Today’s Wednesday, we’re working on early downs, working on the kicking game, working on fundamentals. Tomorrow’s Thursday, we’re working a lot of situational football, third down, red zone, two-minute. Friday’s going to be a red zone day for us, it’s going to be a lot of review for us from throughout the week. If we just keep our focus on what we have to do that day to improve and get ready for Sunday, that’s all that really matters. Right now, there’s a lot of talk about hypothetical games. We can’t sit here and live in some imaginary world and think about things that don’t exist yet. The Cardinals are very real, they’re getting on a plane, they’re coming to play us at MetLife and that’s what we have to get ready for.
Q: Joe, there was a stat that the last time the Giants had a defense that has been as productive as you’ve been over the last four games were the two Super Bowl years. Do you feel like this defense is playing at a championship level and is good enough to bring you through the rest of the season and beyond?
A: I like the way they’re improving, I love the way they’re working every day. I think this team is really playing as what we say is a ‘team’. This unit’s really coming together nicely, they’re building on their ability to play with a lot of multiples, they’re building on their positional versatility, which allows [Defensive Coordinator] Pat [Graham] to put together creative game plans and allow us to go ahead and use some disguise. And also, it ultimately comes down to the fundamentals, being able to play straight ahead and beat the man across from you. I think our guys have really improved fundamentally as well as schematically. You know, in terms of everything else, we’re trying to get this team good enough to play against the Cardinals this week. Anything after that, we haven’t discussed or thought or talked about. We have a ways to go as an organization, we have a lot of improvement we have to make, there’s a lot of things I have to do better, there’s a lot of things we all have to do better playing and coaching-wise, so today’s going to be a good focus on getting a step forward and we have to focus on that every day.
Q: And just on the defense, [Linebacker] Blake [Martinez] will be back this week?
A: Again, I have to be fair to Blake and see where he’s at. I hope so. He was in meetings with us today, had a smile on his face and laughing, so you can always cut it with Blake. But obviously, guys are coming out of games, they’re banged up, they’re sore. Today being a walkthrough day is really part of the recovery from our trip going out west, so that should allow some guys with some nicks and bumps to do some things in practice, but when we get out there tomorrow it’ll kind of give us a better look in terms of guys that are dinged and bumped up in terms of how they can move around.
Q: You know things are going well where I don’t think you’ve had a question since Sunday about special teams, so I’ll be that guy. What’s kind of been going wrong in that phase the last two weeks and how do you fix it?
A: Look, we just go back to working on the fundamentals and making sure we're communicating as a unit moving forward. Again, that’s obviously a phase that we put a large emphasis on here, we have good players on there, we have good coaches working with it. Playing against good teams, they’re going to have a chance to make plays. It’s our duty and our responsibility to make sure they don’t make plays, so we’ve got to do a better job of coaching it and playing it and it starts with me.