Head Coach Joe Judge
July 29, 2021
Opening Statement: Look, we kind of talked yesterday about the start of training camp. Obviously, we’re going to continue today, day two. We’re still in helmets and shorts right there. We’ll continue some red area work today, in the higher red area, continue right there and again, right now, we’re still focused on really the fundamentals, the communication and getting our guys in football shape. With that being said, are there any questions I can answer?
Q: Kelvin Benjamin, we saw what happened yesterday. He made some comments to certain members of the media last night about not getting a fair shot. What exactly happened with Kelvin?
A: I’m not going to go into any specific situation with a player. I always have respect for the player and anything we share between the player and the coach and then, obviously, we’re going to keep between us right there. I want to make sure I respect anything we say in confidentiality when we talked with him. That being said, guys, there’s 32 teams that make roster moves every day, this was really no different. We decided to make a move we thought was best for the team and that’s going to be the category that falls into any move we make. We’re always going to make a selection that’s best for the team. I wish him well. I wish him the best of luck going forward. No ill will, and I hope he has success.
Q: How did you react to the quote where he said that you were know-it-all who cusses all the time and kind of made it personal?
A: The cussing part? I mean, look, I’ve got some colorful language. When we’re out at practice, you watch, you guys can figure that out. Listen, I know how to clean it up at the right time. I don’t curse in front of, you know, my wife. I don’t curse in front of your kids, your wife, grandmothers, my mother, whatever it is. To be honest with you, I can’t specifically tell you exactly what it is, but it’s a little bit different when you’re out there, kind of heat of the moment in practice, teaching. Sometimes colorful language happens. You know, one thing I do have is a rule here, we’re never going to attack anybody personally. So, there are certain things, maybe cuss words, whatever, we’re never going to direct them at a player. There are certain times you have to use something for emphasis, or something comes up and a certain amount of energy on the field at the time, however, we’re never going to attack any player personally. I don’t care if you say a cuss word or anything else, we’re never going to do that. We’re always coaching mistakes, we’re correcting the position by helping the person. We’re never attacking the person.
Q: Joe, you said 32 teams make roster moves, but you don’t usually see a scene like that. Do you wish that was handled differently through communication before you guys got on the field yesterday?
A: Look, sometimes things happen a certain way and you just got to keep going. Everyone makes moves in different ways. Things happen with circumstances. I’m not going to overanalyze or dissect what happened specifically yesterday with one move. Things happen differently all the time, so guys, it is what it is. I wish him well.
Q: How do you think the offense looked yesterday? [Quarterback] Daniel Jones and [Wide Receiver] Kenny Golladay, specifically?
A: Yeah, I thought there were a lot of positives to build off with day one. The first thing that stuck out was the players and the condition they were in. Our guys really moved around well yesterday. They responded to the training regimens and a much different look than we had last year, to be honest with you. Last year, day one, we had a lot of guys that were further behind physically than they are right now. I think that’s just, for a lot of guys, it’s being in the system for a year and understanding what you have to do day in, day out in terms of practice and how we want to train to play in the game. I think for the new guys that came in, we’ve done a good job explaining that and getting them incorporated through the spring and their summer training of what they’re expected to do to make sure they come in ready. I was really proud of the conditioning part, the test, the way the guys came out and made it and it definitely carried over.
Q: What did you see out of [Tight End] Evan [Engram] last year and where he can improve this year?
A: The one thing I’ll say with Evan, I’ve always noticed from day one, is this guy comes to work and does everything that’s asked of him. He does it with a positive attitude. He’s a guy we have a lot of expectations for internally. He’s a guy that we rely on for a lot of things. He brings a lot of leadership to our team. He’s a positive attitude guy. He’s someone that the team knows him through how he works and prepares that they can rely on. He’s a positive influence on our locker room. I’m excited to have him on the field. He’s a guy that comes out every day and just improves a little bit every day. Right now, that’s all we’re asking from all of our players. In terms of any kind of projections and what someone can do, we can all do our jobs better. We can always make sure we help each other along the way. It’s our job to give information and guidance to take that next step and that’s for every player.
Q: Because he’s obviously so talented and his skill set, he seems to be a lightning rod here. Fans feel like he can do a lot more. do you sense that external pressure because of his talent?
A: I think there’s always external pressure and external expectations. We have to keep our focus very narrow and keep it on the present. We can’t do anything about six months from now. We have to go day-by-day, so the expectation is come to work every day, do your job the best you can, be detailed in how you work and put yourself in a good position.
Q: What do you remember about 11 months ago when you get word [Safety] Xavier [McKinney] is going to be out the first 10 games of his career? What’s your initial reaction to that? I know you move on and you’d rather move on, but it’s a downer.
A: Well, the first thing is you hate it for the player. You genuinely feel bad for any player when they get hurt. We all want to make sure we all put our players at every position to be safe and stay on the field. Now, I know how much it means to him. He’s a guy that definitely loves the game. He comes at it and works extremely hard. He’s very attentive in the meetings. He’s a great communicator with us in terms of what he does and doesn’t understand and what he needs help with. He was really having a good day of practice when he got hurt. For us, when you get that news, you see him go down, you don’t know exactly where it’s at. Initially, you go through practice and make some adjustments, but in the back of your mind, you are thinking about the player whether it’s – focus really when we found that he was going to be out the duration of, ‘OK, what can we do to help him along the way?’ What you can’t have is, put someone on the backburner and think when they come back, we’ll go ahead and start all over again. So, for us, the focus with [Xavier] was just keep the movement every day. He’ll do physically what he can do with the trainers and strength coaches. Mentally, as coaches, we have to keep him involved and that includes extra meetings, some of the virtual meetings where our guys are a little bit more on their feet and walking around and kind of getting some of the things simulated. We teach in different ways, so we don’t always teach sitting in a chair. We want to make sure we can simulate as much as you can for him to keep him progressing and he did a great job. We gave him assignments last year to kind of give him a preview of the personnel and some scheme-based things and that really helps grow the player to understand the opponent and how they have to shape their thinking around getting ready for a game. It changes every week. He did a really good job for us the last week (of the season). The other thing about him too is you want to give these players and these situations a platform to have to present to their teammates. It gives not only them confidence in the material they’re studying, but they’ll talk to their teammates about the communication in practice and it gives the teammates confidence to understand how they’re preparing and just seeing the progression. But we did get him back later in the season. The goal was to build him in over time and make sure that he was set to go, that he was ready to go. When he was, he was able to make an impact for us down the stretch.
Q: Those last games, particularly those last two games, did that give you a taste of, ‘ok, this is the kind of player he is?’
A: We didn’t need that to see he was going to be the player we thought he was going to be. He had a lot of potential and he works hard. That was really the first time that he was able to physically go out there and do that for a moment to give himself an opportunity to make some plays.
Q: We saw [Quarterback] Daniel [Jones] and [Wide Receiver] Kenny [Golladay] get some work in after practice. How important is it for a quarterback and wide receiver to start to work on their timing and their rapport?
A: Well, it’s critical for any position, but especially for the skill positions with the quarterback. Everyone’s unique, so we have to understand that everyone runs routes differently. As much as Daniel, [QB] Mike [Glennon] and [QB] Clayton [Thorson] work with our receivers and learn those players, that just helps them play with more anticipation and play more aggressively and deliver the ball where it’s going to be. It’s training camp, so we’re all working on our fundamentals, our communication, but I keep talking about the chemistry within our units. These things we have to build on, so whether it’s Daniel with the receivers, whether it’s the safeties watching extra tape, the corners making sure they’re on the same page communication-wise anticipating the motion or shift pre-snap, whether it’s our linebackers working with the front, the offensive line getting extra tape and watching blitz pickup reels right there. It’s critical that everyone puts in extra time at this point to really go ahead and make up some extra play. The reality is the way the rules are right now – and they are what they are – it’s a shorter day for the players, it’s only an 11-hour day. Our guys are generally in for a 7:30 start, they’re leaving at 6:30. There’s a lot of time on the back end. We preach to our players that the things you really need to manage are your time and preparation. Everyone needs personal time away, time to rest, time to call your mother, call your wife, have a little bit of personal time, -- some guys play video games, whatever it is – but you’ve got to structure that time accordingly. Now on top of that, physically, you’ve got to take care of your body, and that takes the extra massages, extra time to hydrate and get treatment from our trainers and nutritionists, sometimes a cold tub, extra stretching, whatever it may be. You’ve got to work to keep your body healthy. This is an adjustment. A lot of guys are coming from college to the league, they assume since they’ve always been a great athlete, never had to worry about injuries, they don’t think they need the trainers. We’re a little bit different and try to bang on that drum every day to work with the trainer. If you’re not hurt, have prehab and not wait until it becomes rehab. Stay on it physically to make sure the season is a lot longer, there’s less numbers, there’s greater intensity. We’re not going to rely on a team of walk-ons going out there and taking every rep versus the scout team. Our players play every rep and the way we’ve practiced in terms of repping everyone all the time, we’ve got to make sure everyone recovers from the day to day grind. And the flow of our training camp is built – you’ll see we have morning practices, earlier practices, give players extra time to recover followed by walkthrough and getting their legs back under them as we ramp up to the tougher part of the week. But in terms of how they handle that time away from us, it’s up to them.
Q: Where’s [Wide Receiver] Kadarius [Toney] in his progression?
A: He had a good day yesterday with the trainers. We’re going to keep on ramping him up over there. I can’t speak directly for Kadarius and where he’s at. I’m going off of what I’ve talked about with the trainers. Obviously, we’re going to take him day by day.
Q: Is he going to be participating in some drills today?
A: He’ll spend the majority of the time with the trainers ramping up. We’ve got a number of guys doing that, guys that are coming off that COVID list. Again, we just keep going back to last year and what we learned, and every player was truly different. We had guys come back last year where they were a little bit winded early in the phase, but they responded quicker. A lot of times based on what the symptoms had been or how hard they had gotten hit by the virus, that can reflect on when they come on back. In terms of Kadarius, we’re going to do everything we can do with him. It’ll be more of a short stay on the field for him, he’ll be out there doing a little bit of stuff in a controlled situation, more special teams and fundamentals related. The rest of the time he’s going to be with the trainers getting ready, and when he’s not with them he’s going to be back with the team so he can listen and get mental reps.
Q: Are there a couple tangible things that you’ve taken from last year and you’re planning on using in your second season? For you personally as a head coach, are there a couple of tangible things that you can talk about from last year? I’m sure there are a million things.
A: I think the majority of my job is managing time and managing people. That’s the biggest thing. I’m always trying to make sure to do the right thing. When I structured practice, going back to last year, how did that work out for us? In notes at the end of the day, how was practice? What were the shortcomings and what was something that was beneficial? The time management of time away to get the players back and healthy. The time management in the season of meeting with the coaches and making sure I’m giving them enough time to prepare, and we also spend enough time together as a staff to be on the same page. So, there’s a lot in time management that come with people. To be honest with you, I’ve spent a lot of time this offseason really working with different specialists in different realms, whether it’s sports psychologists, generational experts, I talked to a lot of Navy Seals guys in the offseason, I’ve talked a lot with different coaches in different sports, whether it be professional lacrosse or women’s basketball. I’m trying to find out how different people hit players because we’ve got an array of different backgrounds. We also have different generations. It’s important to understand the difference in Millennials, Generation Z and also the effects that COVID has had. You look at guys as Generation Z, that’s more on the front end of college or the back end of high school, it’s really a subset of that generation, sort of COVID Generation Z, and it’s within that same generational frame, but there’s actually differences in the personalities that are a reflection of what they’ve been exposed to. To me, it’s important to understand that each person has a different story, value set and also understanding that as a generation of players, the reality is it’s different coaching rookies and coaching our vets. They’re just two different subsets. One guy has got a family and kids, one guy is just getting out of college and focusing on shoe deals and Combine preparation for the last part of the year. We’ve got get these guys on the same page to be successful.
Q: Are those external things that you did this offseason part of stuff you didn’t have the time for leading into last year or maybe hadn’t thought about doing?
A: I’d say I was able to spend more time on the people aspect. I’d say the time part last year, I was definitely working the same way on it. You just have more experience with your team, with this setting and what you can improve here. In terms of the people, I’m always doing research, I’m always trying to find different ways. This year it was just a major focus of mine to make sure that – one thing I always want to hit on is I don’t want to miss on a person. I don’t want to miss that. One of the most important things we do is evaluate our team to make sure we don’t want to put a person on the street that can help us win, that we don’t misevaluate because we can’t see through maybe a shade of a personality or something like that.
Q: Quick question about your three coordinators. How would you define their roles as table-setters in your system and what tweaks are you making in year two that will have some impact on what they do?
A: Well, I think the tweaks are coming more internally in terms of them working with staff specifically. Last year, we had to get on the same page and we eventually did and that took some time, and that’s just natural with any program in year one. I think just the experience of [Defensive Coordinator] Pat [Graham], [Offensive Coordinator] Jason [Garrett] and [Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey] working with everybody, that has enabled them to kind of redistribute some responsibilities, for me to sit down with them and make sure we have the right people doing the right breakdowns, right reports, handling the right area of focus. In terms of T-Mac, every one of our coaches watching practice now watches special teams, so it’s important to catch everybody up not only on the fundamentals and scheme, but to be able to go out on the field and coach because we don’t want two guys coaching 90 guys. We’ve got a big coaching staff, we have good coaches and I want everyone here coaching at all times, so when we go to special teams, we’re going to go ahead and designate certain coaches to get some position work or something specific and everybody else will work with the kicking team. But it’s all of our responsibility to coach every player in every aspect. The first part in terms of them setting the table, I’d say ultimately we talk as a staff, we deliver the message and what the tone will be for the week, what the message will be for the week, what our mentality is going to be as a team, but then you have to give ownership to the coordinators within their specific units and you have to give position coaches ownership as well. Truly, position coaches are the head coaches of their position. I see the coordinators as the same way. We have to make sure those units have an identity, that they can take on their own personality and the guys that are working with them day in and day out and every hour of the day get a really great feel for that and they can go ahead and extend that and make sure that they set that table with that culture. It’s all got to fit within the big team feel, the big team culture, but having a subset of that, having their angle that fits within the team concept, we want to promote that.