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SEPTEMBER 15, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Tuesday to discuss his team’s 26-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (the video is also available on Giants.com):
Q: I’m curious after going back and watching the tape last night, how you thought the offensive line held up? How close or far away you are from where you need to be there?
A: First off, I’m really pleased with how they played as a unit together. It was the first time they got to go into a competitive situation against a foreign opponent, so obviously, a lot of different looks, both in individuals with the personnel as well as collectively as a scheme. I thought throughout the night they did make some necessary adjustments. We’ll make a lot of improvement going forward, but I’m pleased with the way they competed and the way Marc (Colombo) made some adjustments in the game.
Q: What did you think about how Cam Fleming played yesterday at right tackle first time in there for you guys?
A: I thought Cam fought his butt off last night. Obviously, he went up against one of the best players in the National Football League with T.J. Watt, and he did a good job overall. Obviously, there’s a play or two that you always have to go back on, how can we correct it going forward? But I’m very pleased with what Cam did for us.
Q: How much tolerance do you have for top skill players like Saquon Barkley or Evan Engram dropping passes, making mistakes? These are guys that are going to carry your team. Obviously, it’s early and you guys had a shortened camp. How do you balance that evaluating their Week 1 performances?
A: Everyone has to play better, so we have to keep the emphasis on the fundamentals, number one. I talked the other day about these first four weeks kind of being an extension of the preseason. I think we saw some of that last night in terms of the timing and the feel of being on the field collectively together. The simulated scrimmages, the reality is they can’t simulate a game against an opponent. We have to go ahead and learn from last night, we need to get up to the speed of the game, and we have to make a lot of gains going forward. But to me, the emphasis has to stay on the fundamentals, and that should bridge the gap from what we see every day in practice and how it carries over to the game.
Q: I have two questions about the first drive. When you had the fourth and one from the 40, why not just go for it there?
A: We didn’t think it was the right time in the game right there. We had an option to go for it or not. We’re going to put faith on our defense there. We figured we’d punt the ball down there, which obviously worked out. It was after the delayed penalty right there. That wasn’t the time of the game to do it.
Q: When you have fourth and goal on the two, did you have any thoughts on going for it there or you’re kicking that no doubt?
A: You know what, we had three swings of the bat already down there in the low red area. At that point, we wanted to come away with some points. Pittsburgh’s a team you can’t just go on down there and come away with no points, which obviously happened later in the game. At that point right there, in this specific game, we wanted to make sure we got on the board.
Q: I just wanted to ask you about Andrew Thomas after going back and watching the film. What did you see from your rookie left tackle? What stood out as far as the first performance?
A: I think he showed he has a lot of ability in this league, and there’s a reason he’s here. He fought really hard. I think he played well overall. He learned a lot of valuable lessons going against a top opponent like Bud Dupree. That’s something you can’t simulate. I don’t care who you have on your defensive front, he’s just different from guys you may have. He plays with a distinct motor. He’s a tough competitor. You have to have a lot of respect for him. For Andrew to have his first NFL competition in a game against a guy like that, that says a lot for how he was able to hold up throughout the game.
Q: Just one follow-up. I assume when you talked to Daniel (Jones) about the second interception, did he tell you if he was trying to throw the ball out of the end zone? Did he see a receiver he was trying to throw the ball to? Obviously, we’ll have a chance to ask him that as a follow-up when we talk to him next, but I’m just curious what you guys talked about on that play?
A: To be honest with you, I talked to him briefly in the locker room after the game but it wasn’t directly about any specific play. It was just in general about how he came out of the game, how he was doing. Then it’s the players’ day off today. These guys will be working out. We don’t have players’ meetings with them until tomorrow. I haven’t had the opportunity to have that conversation. Obviously, there are things we have to clean up with the decision-making. But I can tell you right now, I think that guy stood in the pocket with a lot of courage last night, delivered a lot of really good balls for us, really controlled the flow of the game, did a heck of a job under pressure. I’m very pleased with the way Daniel played last night. I know the rest of the team feels very confident with him in there calling the signals for us. There are obviously a couple of plays that we’re going to have to correct and move on from. But man, I’ll tell you what, we woke up this morning and I’m glad that he’s on our team.
Q: If you were playing the Giants, you would no doubt want to be stopping Saquon Barkley. Mike Tomlin took that strategy last night. I’m sure Matt Nagy is going to have the same one next week. How do you get around that? Is it playing better, or are there scheme ways that you can allow him to be productive?
A: Saquon played hard last night. Collectively, we have to do a better job coaching, putting our players in the right positions, and we have to do a better job executing the techniques and the schemes we have in the game plan. It’s a collective effort. No one person can do better for all of us to have success.
Q: Did anything feel different being a head coach last night? Going through the process, walking on and off the field?
A: There were definitely some differences last night. Obviously, I think I’ve grown accustomed to a lot of that stuff throughout just being at practice and scrimmages and handling a lot of the different phases. There’s a difference in-game. It was the first game that I haven’t had a specific position group or group of guys to actually get out there on the field. To be honest with you, one of the weirdest things was not having that clock in my head of ‘I have to be out there on the field at a certain time.’ Obviously, I want to be out there as early as possible to watch warmups, see how the guys are doing, see how they’re moving around, get a feel for their energy. But there’s obviously some differences in there. I didn’t feel weird about anything. It was just a little bit of a change.
Q: Win or lose, this is going to be your first day after. Sunday, Monday, whatever it is, Tuesday. When you look at it, how are you going to balance between breaking the team down and criticizing them when they perform badly, building them back up, encouragement versus laying down the law? Are you going to publicly criticize players, because you really have not done that much or at all?
A: To be honest with you, I think it’s my job to support the players. I think it’s our job internally to make corrections and adjustments that are necessary. But I don’t think you’re going to see too much different from me than you’ve seen already, if that kind of paints a little bit of a picture for you. I kind of am who I am every day. But internally, we’ll address things always. We’re going to be very blunt and honest. We’re very transparent in this organization, and we’ll always be very direct with what we have to do to correct it. That being said, I’d say on a weekly basis, that will always be a little different. Sometimes a team needs some encouraging, sometimes they need a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting. Whatever each week calls for, that’s what we’re going to go ahead and have. I think that no matter what tone you do it in, it’s always about teaching. Players don’t go out there and intentionally make mistakes. They don’t go out there and intentionally screw up. Whatever tone it requires to get the message across, we better be teaching them so that when they leave that meeting, it’s clear in how they have to improve and what they have to correct going forward. That to me is the emphasis for myself and every coach on this staff.
Q: Following that question up, is this week a teaching meeting or is it one that ‘hey guys, it’s only one game. Let’s just play better next week’?
A: That’s classified. I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you (laughing). It’ll be heavy teaching. Again, there are going to be unique situations with the individuals as well as the team collectively. Our guys competed their butts off last night. They played hard. What they need is, we need to make sure that we eliminate some mistakes and we understand going forward the formula for us to be able to win games, and that’s what we’re focused on right now.
Q: What’s impressed you the most about Darius Slayton since you got your hands on him? What impressed you particularly about how he played last night because he obviously had a big night?
A: I think he played fast last night, and that’s definitely something that’s kind of one of those ‘yeah Joe we got that, he’s a fast guy.’ But there’s a difference between being a fast guy and playing fast, and he plays fast. He comes off the ball fast, he makes decisions fast, he cuts fast, he plays aggressive in traffic to make the catches. That to me is something you can’t replicate. There’s a lot of people out there that can run a 40 at a good time. Then there are people that play fast as well. That’s something that definitely stands out with him. He was able to have a lot of production for us last night. That was something that helped us within the game. We’re going to need that going forward from him. Then we need some other guys as well to make sure we keep them involved.
Q: Just want to circle back to the offensive line real quick. I know you tried to be positive with them. I’m wondering the issues that you had with protection and blocking last night, how much of that do you attribute to the lack of chemistry from not having a normal preseason? Also if you don’t mind, what were your thoughts on Nick Gates in his first game as a center?
A: I think Nick Gates overall handled himself pretty well. Again, there are always things that you have to improve on. We’re going to look at the tape, we’re going to be very critical about that. But I’m very pleased with the way he came out and competed last night. He handled a lot of calls, a lot of different fronts from these guys. These guys played against some bulldogs out there last night. They have some good players. I think Nick did a good job overall really standing up to it. Like I said, obviously, Marc and Ben (Wilkerson) will have him and we’ll go ahead and do some corrections. As a unit, we just need to go ahead and keep improving collectively. That’s the biggest thing. The one thing about those bigs is it doesn’t matter how one guy plays. It’s all five have to play in-sync, all the time. They have to get that chemistry as you’re referring to going forward. I have no doubt that there’s going to be a lot of improvement going forward. I’m very confident in all the guys we have involved in our offensive line, both the five from last night and all the other guys on our roster. We’re going to keep working with these guys and improving.
QB Daniel Jones Jones has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 13 career starts, the fourth-longest streak among quarterbacks who started their careers since the 1970 merger.
WR Darius Slayton had his fourth two-touchdown game of his young career.
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players return to practice on Wednesday. Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.