Head Coach Joe Judge
September 6, 2021
Opening Statement: Obviously, today is a little bit of a bonus day for us in terms of prep of a normal game week. We’ll obviously start prepping some on Denver. There will (also) be a lot of New York Giants stuff we’ve got to focus on. We have a number of new players who have joined our team with the weekend we just had being dead period rules. There’s a lot of guys that haven’t had a lot of experience with things we’re doing, so today is important to get guys caught up vocabulary-wise, just get them on our alphabet, understand what we’re saying going out there, give them a chance going into next weekend to see if they can compete and get into the game. With that being said, I’ll open it up to any questions that you have.
Q: Did you see the amount of contact, physical live action, that you needed to see from (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) last Thursday or are you putting in another one of those this week?
A: Two things. One, I thought we had for the first day a good amount of it, of what we had to do, live contact last week. In terms of this week, we’ll be in pads on Wednesday. We’ll see a little bit more. I know the next question coming is, ‘Where are you on Saquon?’ Look, that won’t be decided until later in the week. I want to see how he responds to a couple things physically within his body and make the best assessment going forward for him this weekend and going forward past that.
Q: How is he feeling right now coming out of that practice?
A: I can’t speak for him directly, but he was smiling today.
Q: How much does that Thursday game next week factor into the decision? It’s a short turnaround. Does that factor in at all or if the guy is ready to play on Sunday he’ll play on Sunday?
A: I think it’s independent of the player. In terms of just Saquon specifically, talking about the second game, we’re really focused on the first game right now. That second game is obviously a very real thing being a short turnaround, but the reality is we’ve got the Broncos coming this week and we’ve got to have all our attention on that.
Q: Are you optimistic about (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay)? I know from the get-go he had said and you guys had said you’re hopeful about him Week 1. Is that still the case?
A: I’d say a number of these guys coming back right now, we’re optimistic about all of them, to be honest with you. We’ll see how they do throughout this week in practice. Saw a lot of guys make a lot of gains last week. There are a lot of guys that are getting reintroduced to the team that missed some time in training camp. I’d say it was a productive week in terms of them making progress with the team on the field. Obviously, this week will be a big thing for them. Having today is a big part of that, kind of a bonus day, tomorrow being a little bit of a rest day. Gives us a little bit more of a window going into the tail end of the week. Again, I’d say as much as Saquon with all those guys, I don’t think we’ll make any final decisions until later in the week.
Q: What about (Tight End) Evan (Engram)? Do you expect him out here doing more this week?
A: We’re going to check with the trainers. He did some stuff this weekend. Sounds like he’s progressing in the right direction. We’ll see in terms of what his load this week is going to be, we’ll see where he’s going to be as far as practice today. That could be anything from nothing to individuals to see if we can progress past that.
Q: I’m sure all the guys had to get tested when they came back. Were they all negatives?
A: Yeah, from everything we’ve been told at this point right now, they were.
Q: Is that kind of a “hold your breath” moment as a coach with them coming back?
A: I think we’re all very aware of the circumstances around it. You’re all very aware of what happened in Dallas with (Cowboys Guard Zack) Martin. You don’t want to see that happen to anybody on any team. You want every team to really have all their players. That’s what it’s about, it’s a competition. We just talked to our team and hit them again in a squad meeting about being safe, just making sure that we take the measures we have to. It’s the same conversation that we started camp with, the same thing. There are protocols in place whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated and whatever the protocols are to you, you have to follow them. We’ll support everybody as long as you follow the protocols. I would say that our team has done a tremendous job. We haven’t had to have one meeting or anything this training camp in terms of telling guys to space out or put on masks. They’ve all been very in tune, very respectful of each other and each other’s status, so we have to stay on them and remind those guys just to make sure that we make all the right decisions, we don’t put ourselves in a position that could cost somebody some time on the field unnecessarily.
Q: Obviously, you said there would be a little bit of Broncos today, a little bit of Giants, but from a coaching staff perspective – I know you guys have different assignments across the board – how early would you say someone on your staff has broken down Denver film to kind of get a head start for you guys?
A: We did a full breakdown as a staff and a preliminary game plan back in the spring. We spent time on the first three opponents. That’s not really uncommon, a lot of teams do that, but we spent time in the spring of really thoroughly going through it as staffs – offense, defense, kicking game. Then, you obviously monitor it through preseason. When the personnel changes, the team changes obviously, it’s about the players, so you monitor where they are coming out of the final cuts, who they have available right now, what you think they may do similarly or differently based on what you see in preseason and who they have available right now. Then, you go ahead and you tweak the game plan based on your own roster, as well. There’s obviously been some adjustments to what we did in the spring, but it gives you a good snapshot early on of what to work with.
Q: What do you say to your guys? You have some guys who are noted film junkies and will dive in – a guy like (Linebacker) Blake (Martinez) or (Defensive Back) Logan (Ryan). Do you want them to hold off a little bit before they dive in or are they the kind of guys that you think are diving in just when the coaches are diving in?
A: I think they’re diving in. Now, I can’t say any of the players were watching these guys back in the spring. We haven’t talked about any opponents outside of the Giants, except for preseason opponents, until now really, so I think this is the right time for these guys to start working through tape. You start out with some cut-ups that apply to you and then watch some games to get familiar with what you’re going to do – this offense against schemes that are similar to what you run, this defense, same thing, against schemes that you may run. You want to go ahead and see how they may call the game, how they may adapt, what they’ve done in previous exposures against coaches on our staff, so taking all that into account and then at the end of the day, it’s just about getting the right information to the players and boiling it down to what we’re going to do as a game plan. But I would expect our players to be watching tape really starting today and working through the week.
Q: From a big-picture perspective, obviously there’s a perception amongst the national media that you guys are not going to have a great season. The expectations are not high. I know you don’t pay attention to it and you tune it out. It’s probably hard for some of your guys to not pay attention to it. Are you okay with these guys using that as motivation? Would you prefer that they not use it as motivation when they see it? How do you feel?
A: Whatever you’ve got to use as motivation, go ahead. If it helps you, it helps you. Look, we’ve got to worry about what we can do inside the building to affect the results on the field. The noise on the outside doesn’t really affect anything we’re doing internally.
Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned about being a rookie head coach and being a rookie head coach of the New York Giants in this market?
A: Big-picture-wise? Look, I could talk for 30 minutes about this. I think it’s important just to show up every day and just do your job to prepare the team. And that sounds really generic, but that’s really what it is. If you start to pay attention to all the stuff on the outside as we just referenced, that’s just going to deter from your own preparation of your own team. The things that are important are showing up, knowing the opponent, knowing your own roster, communicating what you want done on the field, talking with the players, correcting mistakes and getting ready for Sunday.
Q: When the doctors tell you somebody is ready to play, does that ever mean he’s good for 20 plays or he’s ready to play and good for the whole game?
A: To me, I can only control volume, I can’t control intensity. You may manage somebody’s reps based on practice or a game, whatever it may be, but to me, when a doctor says someone is healthy for a game, you’ve got to be healthy to play. You only take a limited number of guys to a game, so if the doctor says someone is good to go, they’ve got to be good to go for us.
Q: From a generic perspective, as far as the roster is concerned, how close is it to the expectations that you set going into the season for what you want to accomplish?
A: In terms of just the players we have available?
Q: Just in general, injuries aside.
A: Look, I’m pleased with the players we have to work with. I think one thing that everyone has to keep in mind, too, and you look at the length of the season, the roster is never really final. It’s really not and the players have to understand that through a lot of different ways, whether it’s turning the practice squad over to find good developmental players or with new rules, vets to flex up, if possible, through having guys through injury (that) you may lose, getting some guys back off injury. The roster’s an ever-evolving thing and you’re really looking through September to really find your identity as a team to really go ahead and level out your roster as best you can and to work through some situations, play with good fundamentals and give yourselves a chance. At this point in the season, nothing’s final. You’ll see we have a number of new guys on our team already right now. We didn’t go through training camp with a lot of guys. We haven’t had an opportunity to really meet with a lot of these guys until this morning. So, in terms of a roster being final, we explain to our players all the time it’s about what you do on a daily basis. It’s about production and consistency and you’ve got to earn it every day.
Q: How close do you think you are to the schedule that you predetermined going into opening day for where you want to be?
A: Schedule from opening day in terms of –
Q: In terms of where your litmus test was, like, ‘When we get to opening day, I want to be able to see this from our team.’ Have you seen it?
A: I’ve seen a lot of things that are leading into exactly where I want to be. There are some other things you’ve got to clean up, as well. I think it ties back into you’re never a finished product. If at any point we sit back and say, ‘That’s it, we got what we need right there,’ we’re not doing our jobs. Our jobs as coaches is to keep finding things that we’ve got to correct and help the players go out there and play more effectively.
Q: (Tackle) Andrew Thomas, we didn’t see him do anything or much on Thursday. Why was that and should we expect him out there today?
A: Yeah, he’ll definitely be practicing today. We were mixing different guys around the other day for different reasons. I talked about it before, based on different loads on different guys at different times, we pull some guys and at other times push other guys, so I wouldn’t read too much into that.
Q: Externally with your offensive line, there’s a lot of concern with how that unit is going to be. What would you say provides you optimism with that group?
A: The way they work and prepare every day. They’re a tough group, they play together. As a team, we’re going to stand together. We’re going to come out here and get better as a team. That’s it. That’s all we can control is getting better every day.
Q: What about Andrew? We saw him – he struggled in that last preseason game. Is that –
A: It’s funny, sometimes the assessments on the outside don’t really have the entire picture at hand and understanding all the other 10 pieces that go together. So, you’ve got to take that with a grain of salt sometimes when you read certain things. Now look, everyone can play better. I can coach better, a player can play better. That’s why we’re here today practicing. If it was a finished product, we’d just sit on the side and just relax. We’re all here to get better today.
Q: So to you, that last performance from him wasn’t alarming? Is that what you’re inferring?
A: Like every player, we’re going to push everyone to improve every performance and today’s an opportunity for us to go out there and get better.
Q: Why is Blake Martinez such a luxury for you?
A: I don’t know if he’s a luxury. I think he’s a solid player who fits in our program, that we love having every day. I think you need good linebackers. I don’t think it’s a luxury in this league. I see it more as a necessity. So, in terms of Blake, I’m glad we have him on the team. I enjoy working with him every day. He gives us good leadership. He’s a good communicator, he’s a tough football player, he’s a smart football player and he puts the team first.