NYG Postgame (vs. Dallas Cowboys) Transcripts: Head Coach Joe Judge
January 3, 2021
Opening Statement: I’m proud of the players and the way they played tonight. They’ve had a good year, we’ve improved every game. I’m proud of the way they came out here and fought for 60 minutes. We knew it was going to be a game that came down to the wire, as all of our division games do. I’m proud of the way they played, the way they blocked out a lot of external factors and stuck together as a team moving forward.
Q: Do you have any Eagles gear hanging around? What will tonight be like for you?
A: To be honest with you, I’m going to go back to the office and start watching Tampa (Bay Buccaneers). I’ll have the game on in the background, and we’ll see what happens tonight.
Q: With the (Wayne) Gallman fumble, what did you see on the screen, and what were you being told by the officials?
A: We couldn’t see anything on the screen. What we were relying on there was the fact that they had signaled a first down, and at that point it’s got to be an obvious clear recovery to overturn that. We were in limbo in terms of what was going on with the review, they were looking more at the spot. We’re talking through a lot of scenarios. I’m talking to Pat (Graham) on the headset if the defense has to go back out there, I’m talking to the offense in terms of them expecting to use their timeout, it’ll give them one timeout left, and we’re in victory formation, just talking through all the scenarios there. It looked like when Wayne (Gallman) went down, I still haven't seen a clean replay of it, it seemed like he recovered right away between his legs. That’s what I saw from the sidelines, I don’t know if that was the absolute end of it. I just know they signaled first down, so we got our offense back on the field.
Q: On a similar play, the catch by (Dante) Pettis before the field goal, replay showed that was an incompletion, were you surprised it wasn’t challenged?
A: We didn’t get anything from up top, indicating from our guys looking at it from a different view that it was a challenge-able type of play. We got the field goal team out there and just executed. If they rule incomplete, we may play that situation differently. We wouldn’t have been in field goal range at that point, so we would have had to make a decision to go for it or probably punt.
Q: What did you say to your team about the idea that you guys can still win the division?
A: My words for the team at the end of the day was how proud I was that they kept playing. What they’ve been able to do, sticking together as a team, all the progress we’ve made. And ultimately, whatever happens tonight, just be ready to come into work tomorrow and do whatever we have to do. Make the right decisions tonight, make sure we’re prepared that if something goes our way, that we’re ready to go ahead and play next week. But we’ll let tonight take care of itself. We had opportunities for 16 weeks. We came in today, it was a meaningful game, put us in position to have a chance, our guys went out and took care of business, so we’ll see what happens in the other game.
Q: How much does it tell you about this team that you were able to play well in an elimination-style game?
A: It shows we’ve had a lot of growth as a team throughout the year. In terms of their wherewithal and fortitude, I think it showed throughout the entire year. I keep saying this, I found out a lot more about our team when we were 0-5 and 1-7 than I did down the stretch. I think that showed what kind of team and culture and foundation we built here, the foundational pieces we have here going forward. The way these guys came to work every single day, never complained, never questioned, just came in and went to work. Again, there were times early in this season where you’re 0-5 and 1-7 and the sound on the outside may be, “How are these guys going to hold up?” “How are they going to do?” “At what point is everyone going to start questioning around?” The reality was, they were probably our best practices. We had to learn to practice better as a team and be better at executing, but in terms of showing up every day to work and getting the most out of our guys in terms of energy and buy in, those were the weeks we made the most progress as a team. The thing was we could show them tape on Monday, correct the mistakes and let them understand what we have to do better to win games, and until we stop losing games, we can’t win them. Those guys understood that and kept coming to work every single day. We learned a lot about ourselves in first half of the year, and that carried us through the back half to have a lot more success.
Q: What’d you think of your defense and specifically the pressure you guys put on them today?
A: I thought they did a nice job overall. Obviously, they're an explosive offense, capable of scoring a lot of points. I thought Andy (Dalton) did a real good job playing today. He gave us a headache, pulling the ball down and creating extra yards when he saw a lane. When he pulled it late in the red zone to get the first down, that was a big play. He’s a smart quarterback, a tough quarterback, he’s an experienced guy. We knew he was going to make plays throughout the day, our concern was really not letting these guys make explosive plays with the ball in their hands. We knew he was going to distribute it around, find some holes in zones, and hit some matchups in man-to-man at times. We just had to do a good job tackling. There were some times where we could've done better tackling, executing as a team, but down the stretch, guys made some plays.
Q: How important was this game after the three-game skid? And also, beating the Cowboys after a seven-game losing streak to them as an organization. Did anyone say anything to you about finally beating them?
A: No, we made this about one game at a time. The last three games before today weren’t the results we wanted, but we turn the page every week, and we’re truly trying to go 1-0 every week and keep our focus centered on that week’s opponent. Learn from last week’s mistakes and put our focus on the team we have to play on Sunday and play our best game. In terms of anything that’s happened here before, we have a great respect for the history of our organization, the players, the coaches, the stories, the games. That’s a focus we put on, we put a priority on our players understanding what’s happened before them here. But in terms of worrying about losing streaks, real simple: those were different teams. To be quite honest, next year's team will be a different team, as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same players, it’s a different team, it’s a different year. All that matters is what you do each week, independently, against that opponent, and how you play. There’s no curse hanging over, there’s no seven-game losing streak for us, we just knew this team earlier in the year played Dallas, we left plays on the field, and we had things we had to clean up and correct, and we were able to do that enough today to have success.
Q: Did anyone from the organization since the game ended express to you how much they like to beat Dallas?
A: There were a lot of smiles and socially distanced hugs in the locker room after the game. I think everyone at this point has gone through a lot, starting in the Spring with zoom meetings, you push on forward to an unconventional training camp. These guys did a great job responding to what we asked them to do. Along the way, it was the upper management, the scouting department, the ownership, the trainers, the equipment staff. It was everybody in that building working with one vision, one direction. The culmination in what we did today, everyone was happy. The focus isn’t on what may or may not happen tonight, the focus is on our goal this week was to beat Dallas, and that’s what we did.
Q: What is your perspective on the third down play where Leonard (Williams) got some pressure and the ball was up in the air? Do you see (Xavier) McKinney in position?
A: I knew we were going to have help in that part of the field because of the defense that was called. We saw the pressure that Leonard gave on it. When (Andy Dalton) threw it, and it floated, at that point in the game the balls were very slick, you saw some drops at that point. In the second half, that’s when the moisture started. By the backend of the fourth quarter, that’s when it started affecting receivers across the board. When you saw that ball go up there and flutter, immediately my eyes went to the back, I saw Xavier there in position, he was able to make the play and catch it. My next thought was stay in the damn endzone. We stressed that enough in that situation how to play it out. There’s times when we give them the green light to run it out. But those guys are a smart group, they play well together. He was able to make the right play situationally.
Q: Sterling Shepard scored two touchdowns in this game, probably his best game this season. What’d you think of him here in your biggest game of the season?
A: In every game, we count on all of our players to give us production. Sterling is a guy that comes to work every day. We knew he’s going to be a focal point in the offense. He’s definitely a very competitive guy. He was very banged up this week, pushed through for practice, you saw him as limited for practice. I’d say he was limited, but he really was grinding through a lot of pain throughout the week. But when it gets to gameday, he’s going to give you plays, he’s going to give you production. He’s a guy we missed a lot earlier in the season when he was hurt. We were happy to get him back, not only for his plays on the field but also what he brings to our team in the locker room with his leadership throughout the game. He plays tough, he plays downhill, he plays strong. Our guys have a lot of confidence with him on the field because in those crucial moments, he wants the ball, and you want to find a way to get it to him.
Q: How hard is that play by (Wayne) Gallman at the end of the game, the balance where you have the first down so you can go down and fighting for extra yards while maintaining ball security?
A: The priority is that we always have to have ball security, I don’t care if it’s the first or last play of the game. Obviously, Wayne is a guy we trust, he gives us a lot of production, that was a heck of a job by the line blocking there and him running. It put us in a position there, at that point in the game, under a minute. They had two timeouts, it secured the win for us to go ahead and get in victory formation. It was a good run. We’ll continue as a team on ball security moving forward, that’s always a priority for our team no matter what time of the year it is. We were fortunate to get the ball back, and Wayne helped us do a lot of positive things today, and he’s a key part of why we won the game today.
Q: Leonard Williams had three sacks today, how important was it for you guys to get that type of performance out of him today?
A: We needed our guys to make plays. We challenged our defensive line. We talked about it the last time we went down to Dallas, and quite simply, we needed to have a better performance up front. And we did on both sides of the ball today. Leonard is a guy who is a tremendous player, we love him in the building, he’s a great teammate, he’s fun to coach. He makes your job a lot easier in terms of coming to work and enjoying your job, and then also making plays on the field. Players make coaches good or not, you can’t be a good coach with bad players, that’s the reality of it. He’s a good player, so he makes all of us look better. We needed to get plays from him, he stepped up, and he’s been a blast to coach.
Q: What was the message to Evan Engram after a couple tough drops, one of which became an interception?
A: Real simple: the ball is slick, let’s get our hands closer together, we’re going to keep throwing to you, so get ready to catch it.
Q: What has Dante Pettis shown you in these past two weeks?
A: Dante has continued within our schemes and systems of having production. He’s shown he can get open and make some plays. He made a couple for us today, he keeps showing improvement, and that’s all we ask from all of our guys.