Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: Today, we'll start our prep on Kansas City. We'll work today through Saturday in terms of prep for Kansas City. We fly out there Sunday. We'll work today on the install for early downs and third downs. Tomorrow, we'll be out on the field in more of a padded practice reviewing all the early downs and third downs. Friday, we'll get a little bit more into our red area, situational practice. Saturday we'll kind of recap the week before we head out to Kansas City on Sunday. This team poses a number of threats. They're explosive offensively, they've got a ton of weapons – you can start naming them, it's going to take a long time and longer than we have in this presser right here. This is an explosive offense. They can score on any play from anywhere on the field. Obviously, they have one of the best quarterbacks at this point in a long duration of the game. I think obviously what he's done will go down a lot longer than that.
Defensively, I think (Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve) Spags (Spagnuolo) does a great job in terms of mixing up the pressures and staying after your skill players, staying after your quarterbacks, really getting pressure on you. There's a lot of multiples. He's not afraid to mix it up at any point in the game.
Then, (Special Teams Coordinator Dave) Toub does a great job on special teams in terms of creating field position with the return game. They're very, very talented. From (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid on down, they're very well-coached, very situationally prepared and very capable in all three phases. With that being said, I'll open it up to any questions you guys have.
Q: Have you spoken with (Safety) Jabrill (Peppers) since the news of his season-ending injury? How tough is it to see an emotional leader like that go down in that way?
A: Yes, I have spoken to him several times. He was in our squad meeting this morning with us, as well. It's really tough for a guy like Jabrill who puts so much – and I don't want to speak for him, I'm just speaking from my opinion of him – it's really tough having a guy like that who puts so much into the team, puts the team first, does everything you ask him to do to the best of his ability, brings so much juice to the team, is a productive player on the field, wears so many hats for you (on) the team and it's always, 'Whatever you need, Coach. Here I go,' and for this to end his season, that's something you don't want to see for any player. It's tough seeing it for Pep, it really is. There are some other things (from) the business standpoint, too. Look, this guy is in a contract year, it's something I've talked to him about directly. He's a guy that I value a lot in this program. I'd love to have this guy going forward, I've told him that directly. He's been a very good leader for us. You can talk about him being local, that the Giants mean something to him. I think that's very important. He's a guy that loves football, he loves this organization, he loves this area. Those are things we talk about building as cornerstones and pillars of this program and he's a very important part of our program.
Q: You had him break down the team after the win. He was already hurt there. Is that normal? Is that his role?
A: We vary it a lot, but I would say last week he broke the team down several times. Pep did a great job practicing last week, he really did. Pep's a guy that when you come in on Wednesdays that – he wears his heart on his sleeve, so he's moved onto the next game, but you can tell he hasn't gotten that taste out of his mouth until he gets to the next game. Pep came out last week, he did a great job practicing for us, really preparing. He brings a lot of juice and energy to the practice. He really gets a lot of guys going with him. We've had him break it down in the past a number of times. Broke it down last week a couple of times at practice. As we were breaking down the team and talking to the team, he came wandering out of the showers and joined us just in time, and it was a good opportunity just to have him come in there and talk to the team. We want to have Pep with us as much as we can. Obviously, the trainers will have some say in that in terms of what's best for him in his recovery. If he can travel with us, he's definitely someone we want with us on the trip. If he's able to be on the sideline with the team, he's definitely someone down there as far as bringing leadership and experience.
Q: How are your injured playmakers doing, the four guys – Toney, Golladay, Shep, Saquon?
A: I would say that being a Monday night game, there's a little bit more of a window of time. They've all made progress. We're going to move them around today. Tomorrow, we'll probably have a much better idea in terms of going into the game with them (and) what they're going to look like. I wouldn't say anything that happens today or tomorrow would rule them out or guarantee them at the game, but today should give us a little bit of an insight to it and then really tomorrow in terms of how much they can do individually, how much they can do in some team periods, what are they able to do when they're out there.
Q: Is any one of them maybe further along than the other?
A: They have three different injuries, three different bodies. There's different timetables for all of these guys. I'm not going to go ahead and give a 'This guy's further ahead.' With these injuries, it sounds like day by day different guys are at different points and some days it sounds like one guy is further along than another guy. What we ask from the trainers is just give us accurate information and let us know so we can plan accordingly.
Q: Obviously, the three guys have been out. (Wide Receiver Sterling) Shep (Shepard) was another one added into that group on Sunday. Comparing the pregame workouts from the previous week with (Wide Receiver Darius) Slayton and Shep, you guys had that pregame workout with Shep and it looked like you guys shut it down pretty quickly. Was it obvious that he was that further away from playing on Sunday?
A: It was at a point that he wasn't going to be able to go out there in the game and that we felt good enough that he was going to go out there and stay. Shep's a tough dude. I'm just telling you, if he had to duct tape the leg back on, he would've gone out there and done it, so we had to kind of help make the decision for him because we know he's going to push through whatever it is. From a medical standpoint, the medical staff had to go ahead and have some insight in making sure that we put him in a good position to maybe go forward the rest of the season and be healthy.
Q: So, really it was more of a 'shut it down because it's not happening today' versus something that happened in the workout that may have shut him down?
A: Correct. We just wanted to get him to that pregame workout to see if he had a chance to go. Shep's a guy that's experienced, he prepares really well through either walkthroughs or just being in the meetings. He's a guy that can go out there and operate within a game. Ideally, you want everybody on the field for timing. There are different levels of guys based on experience with both the players that they're going to be playing with on the field and just in general where you have a little more flexibility of what did they do during the week, can they get to the game? Shep's a guy that with his experience and his experience specifically with (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones), I'd say as far as their timing and chemistry you feel a little better about saying, 'Okay, if we can get this guy to the game in certain weeks, we can get him up and back.'
Q: Is he in the same boat as those other guys or is he on a different level?
A: I think he's a little bit different because he was close to playing last week, but I wouldn't say it's too far removed. Obviously, he didn't play in the game last week, so he'll be in the crew today over with the trainers, moving around to see how far out he is.
Q: When you go against an offense as explosive as this one, defensively, you're going to have to come up with a plan, but how does it affect you offensively? Do you feel like you have to go out and score a ton of points? Are you trying to shorten the game? How do you approach going against a high-powered offense with your offense?
A: Actually, there's different ways you can look at it. I think you've got to find what best suits who you are as a team. There's that element of do you try to play four corners basketball and just keep the ball out of their hands? Do you try to go out there and do everything you can to roll the dice, take shots and just try to match points for points? We've got to look internally in terms of what we think we are as a team and what our strengths are and play to that. That goes into a lot of who's available, how we think the flow of the game can go. There's other external factors that play into that as well and you have to understand where you're playing circumstantially. How much will weather play into the game? How does that affect how they're going to play the game, as well as us? You have to have enough flexibility in your game plan as you put it together early in the week. As we get closer to the game, we can lean one way or another without really changing it that that players feel like it's too much. Sometimes you get in the flow of the game and the game goes completely different than what you planned all week. There are some games we've gotten into where we say, 'Hey, look, we're going to play pure ball control and really just go ahead and move this thing methodically and try to keep their offense off the field.' You get into the game and start moving fast and you say, 'Hey, you know what? We're pushing the envelope, let's go.' There's other games you think, 'Let's go warp speed,' and you get into the game and you say, 'You know what? Let's settle it on down. Their defense is reacting to our tempo. Let's just make sure we get in the best offensive play and make sure we execute the best way possible.' Sometimes, the flow of the game really dictates a lot of that.
Q: When you look at (Chiefs Quarterback) Patrick Mahomes, I know he's had I think eight or nine interceptions, some of them have been balls off his receivers' hands. Does he look like he's pressing a little bit more this year to you?
A: He looks like one of the best quarterbacks in the world to me. This guy is – look, to be as athletic as he is, as just naturally instinctive as he is and have that kind of arm strength to make all those throws, there's a reason this guy gets paid that much money because there's not a lot of these guys walking the Earth. This guy's extremely talented. He's got a lot of savvy and experience. I think he does a great job of going through the initial reads, finding the right receiver and if something gets shut down, extending the play. That's when those guys really go ahead and turn it to a degree – I don't want to say backyard, like they're just freelancing, but they've got how they handle their scramble situations and they make some explosive plays down the field. If you get out of your responsibility, you get undisciplined, they're going to find a way to make you pay.
Q: They're still a good offense, right? What do you say to the idea that the league has sort of caught up with them and they've at least found ways to kind of slow this offense down? You don't agree with that, huh?
A: (Laughs) I mean, how'd the league catch up to them? Is everyone as fast as (Chiefs Wide Receiver) Tyreek Hill or (Chiefs Wide Receiver Mecole) Hardman? Can everybody cover the ball as deep as he can throw that thing? I think it's a foolish narrative for us to buy into if we think this team isn't as good as they are. This is a damn good team. They're very explosive, they're very dangerous. These guys are going to be playing their best ball Monday night. We're going out into a tough atmosphere, it's a lot of great energy out there, so we've got to get ready this week to play our best football.
Q: When you go into Arrowhead, usually you always play the Chiefs and usually you figure they're going to be 6-1 or whatever they're going to be. Is there a wounded animal kind of mentality that you have to warn against, but do you have to tell your players, 'Look, they're 3-4, but they're going to play their best game Monday?'
A: Nobody in this building is going to in any way, shape or form underestimate this team. Period. This is a very good team. We know that. We know how dangerous and explosive they are. We always expect everybody's best game. It's our job to make sure that we're not overconfident or underestimate anybody.
Q: Obviously, you guys brought in Kenny Golladay to be kind of a transformative piece for this offense, so how frustrating has it been that there have been these things that have popped up and he hasn't been able to?
A: I'm really pleased with how Kenny's done everything we've asked him to. He practices hard. He produces on the field. When he's dealing with injuries, he's great in the training room. He's great with the strength staff. He does everything he can to get back out here and play. He's a competitor. I'm very pleased with Kenny and everything we've asked him to do and when he gets on the field, he's highly productive and he's exactly what we thought we were getting.
Q: Can you gain anything from the way you guys prepared to play in that atmosphere in New Orleans and put it to this week going to play in Arrowhead, in terms of the noise and the things you did behind the scenes that really we weren't necessarily aware of?
A: There's obviously similarities in terms of the noise. This is a very, very loud place to play, so the communication is key. You've got to make sure that you simulate some things just through noise at practice. Now, we can turn the speakers all the way up. It doesn't simulate it 100-percent. We've got to do our best in how we prepare. There's a possibility of having some weather out there. We've got wind today, we've got to use that to our advantage. We may have rain later in the week, we have to use that to our advantage. We're on a grass field, we have a grass practice field, so we have to use all these things to our advantage in terms of how they come up throughout the week. Ultimately, we've got to take each day as it comes and understand the focus of the day. Today is really an assignment day. We've got to make sure we come out here today and that we're very crisp on what we have to accomplish and then tomorrow really turn up the juice and put the pads on and really execute on the how we have to do it.
Q: With COVID last year and the soft tissue injuries this year, the change in the IR rules, has that been a godsend for coaches being able to bring more people back?
A: I like the IR rules, the three-week IR. I really do like that. I don't think you're going to have a lot of coaches complaining about that. I think in this league you want to see the players play, right? I think that's kind of the goal. Fans turn on the TV, sit in the stands, you want to see the best players play. So, to me, the ability of having somebody and not losing them for the year, I think that's just a plus for everyone involved. You don't want to see any of your players not play. I say this again, everybody you play, you want to play their best players. I know sometimes people look at different people's injury reports and say, 'Oh, hopefully this guy's out, this guy's out.' That's not why you compete, that's not why you play the game, that's not why you coach the game. You want to go against somebody's best and see how you measure up. You want to go against someone and compete to the fullest. There's different views on some of the other things like the 16-person practice squad. I think that's a longer conversation. but I think in terms of me personally, the three-week IR or the three-week minimum IR, I think it's a positive move in terms of just having the ability to get our players back.
Q: Do you think that's here to stay?
A: I think there's a group of guys in the city right now that can answer that better than I can. I hope so. I hope so. I think it's just better for players being available to play games.