Head Coach Joe Judge
June 10, 2021
Q: Today is the last time you will see most of the team for several weeks until training camp. What is your message to the team as they head off?
JOE JUDGE: There are going to be a lot of things we talk about today logistically, getting ready for camp. Generally speaking, we are going to talk to the team about training, being in shape, making the right decisions off the field. There are a lot of resources for us in this building and it is important for us to stay connected throughout the summer. When they need something, we are always available. Generally that’s the message. We will meet individually with our players by position and find out what their plans for the summer are. We will close out with summer goals, training camp goals. This won’t be the last time we see everybody. We’ll still have OTAs next week on Monday and Tuesday and we will be able to meet extensively with some of the guys here as well.
Q: The Browns said yesterday you two would be having joint practices in the preseason, and I know there has been some talk about the same with the Patriots. What are your thoughts on the value of the joint practices?
JOE JUDGE: I am a big fan of them. I think it’s a great time in training camp to break the monotony, to get some competition against a friendly opponent. With both programs, the Browns and the Patriots, I’ve got great relationships with both coaches, known them both for a sustained period of time. In all of our conversations, I think one of the things you try to find in this are not only teams that are going to schematically help you with some of the things you are going to see throughout the season but most importantly you want to make sure you go out there and have a good, quality practice. The guys are going to compete. You want to make sure you keep it between the lines, the guys are not doing anything dirty, outside the whistle. So it’s important you know the coaches and what kind of program you are going against. I think it’s great for the team, it helps you get exposure to different schemes you may not see from your own team in training camp outside having to draw cards or scout teams. It is actually a way to take something off your players at a certain time. You kind of ramp them up and build them the first few weeks of training camp and then when you go ahead and do a cooperative practice with another team, you’ve got to figure it’s no longer the offense is always going, the defense is always going. When our offense is on the field, our defense is on the sideline resting, making adjustments, talking to the coaches and then vice versa, so actually, it breaks it up for them a little.
Q: Is the Patriots one going to actually be in New England?
JOE JUDGE: We’ve talked about that and that’s the plan right now. There are some things that aren’t finalized for training camp. The thought process is it’s a opportunity to get our team on the road through training camp, stay together, but also with the change in the preseason schedule, both organizations thought it would be a good idea to exchange a little bit year by year and that way the fans would have two exposures to really deal with each team. We’ve got two home games this year. We’re fortunate. New England has got the one. Next year it will flip. This will give us an opportunity, especially when we have fans, for our fans to see us exposed against another opponent.
Q: A philosophical question. Everybody talks about the jump from year one to year two and from year two to year three. Why do you think some guys make the jump and some guys don’t?
JOE JUDGE: That is a pretty broad question. It’s a good question but pretty broad. Everybody is on their own, everybody is unique, so every situation is completely different. I can’t give you a blanket statement about why one guy does and another guy does not. I always look at it from an ownership and coaching standpoint, we have to make sure that we put those players in a position to play to their strengths and then they have a responsibility to go out and execute.
I don't try to measure everything in terms of year one to year two, the jumps. Always just look for our players to improve on a regular basis consistently and execute better than they did the year before, the game before, and make sure we are going in the right direction. It's a pretty broad question. I can't sum that up in one deal. I can talk more about specifics of people, but just in general regards, I try to keep it back on coaching and keep pushing our players and developing them day-in and day-out and tell the players to come every day and work their hardest.
Q. Do you have anything on where Kyle Rudolph is in his rehab? We haven't seen Ryan Anderson or Cam Brown.
JOE JUDGE: All three of those guys are working on different things right now. Kyle is making progress every day and this guy works really, really hard. You can tell he's a vet. He has a lot of experience. He knows his body very well. He's in there and he's opening up the door with the coaches every morning bright and early. He's an early morning guy. But Kyle has done a great job for us in terms of classes and everything he can do and he's done a great job right now with our medical staff doing everything to get ready to get back on the field as soon as he can. We'll see what kind of ground he makes up the next few weeks leading up to training camp but like all our players, we won't put him on the field until we know he's fully ready to go out there and play 100 percent.
Q. Is there any timeline on those guys? Do you expect to have them all at some point during training camp? Are any of them long term?
JOE JUDGE: I can't really answer that question right now until we see what the next four or five weeks bring for us with these guys. We will see the progress they make. They all have their own individual issues. Kyle obviously had the off-season surgery and we have to check with the doctors where they feel he is at a certain point. In terms of the rehab and where he's going to be, we have to make sure they can build the conditioning and football movement and not just be pain free and make sure he's structurally safe.
Q. You had a highly unusual first season as a head coach in the NFL. Curious to see what you feel you need to do differently, better, and what your thoughts are moving forward as to what it will take to get better.
JOE JUDGE: Personally, I'm a pretty harsh critic on myself. I go through every day and the first thing I do is make notes after every practice of things that I feel I can do better and after every game, it's the same story. I communicate openly with our coaching staff and players every day in terms of what we have to do to get better. I'm very open in terms of what I think individuals have to do. I communicate that on a regular basis. In terms of improving, to me, it starts with eliminating mistakes and when you can identify what you have done wrong or what you have to improve on, eliminate those mistakes, you give yourself a chance for success. I know that sounds pretty generic and broad right there but that's what we are always looking to do. I go through time management, I go through timeouts, I go through challenges, I go through situational football calls. I go through how we prepare, am I making sure we have the teaching progression on the field. Am I making sure the players are fully understanding this, are we handling the time allotted for meetings as efficiently as possible. I'm trying to manage the time and efficiency the best I can for the team but internally there's always a thousand things I'm looking to improve. I have my own checklist but look I'm far from perfect and I know the things I've got to improve on and I'm always looking to eliminate things on that list.
Q. Anything that any of your people that you speak to, coaches, has helped you about what to expect in year two?
JOE JUDGE: Not tremendously. We haven't had a whole lot of talk specifically year one to year two. I think every program is different. We are going to be in a different place than other guys and other programs. I think having this spring and a normal training camp is going to help with continuity and some of the chemistry of the team and that's going to help us transfer some of the things on to the field. Other than that and as far as year two, look, every year is a new year. My year one was different, but everyone in the NFL had a different year last year as well. That's what the normal was last year. We operated as effectively as we could and this year is a new year for all 32 teams as well so we are all on the same playing ground right now.
Q. When you sign a guy to be a receiver and you draft one in the first round, as a coach, did you go up to someone like Darius Slayton, who could be affected by these moves, and explain if it affects him or doesn't or do you say it's up to the player and he has to figure it out?
JOE JUDGE: I think it's a combination of both but to answer your question specifically, if there's an older, experienced vet player at a position and we draft a player, I do talk to the players and let them know. Last year when we drafted Andrew Thomas, I had a conversation with Nate Solder on the phone afterwards -- this year after the Draft, I called Shep. To me, it's important to understand that, look, we are bringing in players to help this program and that the better each player plays, the more it helps each player on the team. We don't look at any player on this program coming in as a threat or replacement. We look to go ahead and breed competition in this program and the best players will play. But I do think there is merit to talking to your older veteran leaders on the team and when you add someone at their position and just clarifying who you are bringing in and what the immediate plans are for that player.
Q. Does this affect Darius? He's not an older veteran player. Is he in a different category?
JOE JUDGE: I would say he's a veteran player, he's not in his first year, he's got skin in the game right there. In terms of Darius, everyone is going to play to their strengths. Darius and Toney, will they be on the field at the same time, different packages, different positions at times, but I think everybody on the team affects the other by the way they work and how they produce. In terms of that position, I thought it was necessary to talk to Shep specifically because when we drafted Toney the word in the press as he was reading those headlines was specifically he's a slot receiver which, look, we are not bringing in someone to play one position. I thought it was relevant at the time to contact Shep out of respect for how he is with our program to communicate that with him.
Q. On Kadarius, what did you think of his practice yesterday? Seemed like he had a good full practice and handled a lot on offense and special teams?
JOE JUDGE: Yeah, he's getting better every day. One thing we are trying to build in is position flexibility with him and he's handling that well right now from a mental standpoint. Like all of our players, the more we get them on the field, football movements and the conditioning improves, the better he will play. He did enough stuff yesterday that we can build on. There's things we had to correct and make sure that we can help him do it more efficiently going forward but I'm pleased with the progress he made.
Q. Have you talked to your team at all about expectations for this year? Is that something you wait until training camp to talk about? Do you manage the expectations of what 2021 will be for you guys at all or is that -- do you have to not pay attention to that noise and just focus on the day-to-day?
JOE JUDGE: Look, I talk to the team all the time about expectations, but right now at this time of year, the expectation for them is to come in, get in shape, do their job the best they can and work as hard as they can, to pay attention and make decisions that put the team first, that's it. To simplify it. There's a lot of expectations externally. We can't do anything about that until we take care of the little things inside, so the expectations are there to improve at our job every day and put the team first.