NOVEMBER 8, 2021 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 23-16 win over the Las Vegas Raiders:
Q: What did you find out about your ball club yesterday, if anything?
A: I think it’s a lot more – I’ve said before, too – I think it just kind of reaffirms the things I’ve known about them, how they come to work every week and prepare. Regardless of the results, it’s about going back to the process and doing the things that are necessary for you to have an opportunity to be successful. We talk to our guys all the time about (how) working hard is just part of what comes with it. You’ve got to put in the work on the field and then in the classroom. Doing all those things, working long hours, putting in the physical demand, working actively to rehab your body and get back fresh for the game, those things wear on you over the course of a long season. But you have to understand that doing those things don’t ensure success, they only give you an opportunity for it. Then, it comes down to the execution on Sunday afternoons for 60 minutes. Really, what I see with our guys is a group of guys who are truly a team, they work together, they support each other, they compete against each other, but they show up every week with the intent of being successful together as a team and they put in the work of what it takes to be successful.
Q: Any headset issues yesterday? If not, do you consider that to be resolved now?
A: I’m not going to go into headsets, period, going forward. I’ve had some conversations with the league and basically, I’m just going to go ahead and stay off those issues and make sure anything that happens we do get resolved.
Q: It’s easy to draw the line between (Linebacker) Oshane’s (Ximines) penalty against the Chiefs and him being a healthy scratch yesterday. Was that a discipline thing sending any message there or is it just that he’s been passed over by some other players?
A: No, we just made the move we thought was going to be best for us within the game plan that we had yesterday. It’s as simple as that.
Q: You had three rookies and (Linebacker) Trent Harris up from the practice squad, so what is it that you like about the edge rusher group you have right now?
A: I think the three guys are really developing. Those young guys are really coming around and developing, and Trent has done a good job for us. He’s done a good job for us on defense, he’s done a good job for us in the kicking game. There are multiple roles that come into every game plan and you can only take so many guys into the game, so you’ve got to consider offensive and defensive value along with the kicking game, as well. I think in the kicking game as well as on defense, those guys are all coming around and having value and really developing. X-Man has done some good things for us on the field, as well, but we thought this Sunday was the best move for us within the game plan and what we needed was to have the guys active that we had.
Q: Any plans to make any waiver claims on high-profile wide receivers in the next day or two?
A: We’re always very conscious of who’s available and who’s out there. It’s part of our job, knowing the league and what’s going on, and we talk through all the personnel moves. That would be something we talk about more internally, but I wouldn’t say there’s anything anticipation-wise at this moment.
Q: Do you feel like you’ve gotten through the COVID testing situation or are you still having trouble with that with the positives and things?
A: I hope so. We tested again today in the trailer before reentering. We didn’t do the rapid tests really to finish out last week. We did more of the PCR’s, which are the overnight, delayed responses ones. The league thought that was best for us going into the game. That worked out well for us in terms of getting accurate results. I haven’t heard anything contrary in terms of any results from today, so hopefully, it’s all resolved.
Q: The job description of a head coach, you’ve got to do a lot of things obviously every day. One of the things is benching players, promoting players, deactivating players. Guys play and then they don’t play and then you have to reassess their situation. How do you deal with that on an individual basis? Explaining a guy is not up this game, explaining your role has been decreased and the fact that you have to do that, but you still don’t want to bury the player, especially a young player and maybe later in the season the guy can come up and regain the role that he once had?
A: To me, it’s always just being very direct and very honest with everybody involved and talk directly to the player in terms of what’s their role this week. We had (Defensive Lineman) Danny Shelton down for the Kansas City game. Now, he was a guy that was coming off a bump and a bruise from the week before and he was a guy that was pushing to come on out there or for a couple of weeks before, he was pushing to get out there. But part of the game plan with Danny being down against Kansas City was it was more we wanted more pass rushers up and more cover guys up. So sometimes within the flow of the game plan itself, that may impact the guy. With Danny, because he was coming off, we gave him a little bit of extra time to go ahead and get healthy. But every week, when someone has a chance of being inactive, we want to communicate with them very directly early in the week what their role and expectation for the week is. When they come out of a game and you correct the tape from the week before, what they have to improve on, what they have to do to keep being a factor for the team, and be very direct and honest about what you have to see from them to keep on using them and utilizing them within the game plans. When somebody’s down, we communicate with them. Sometimes you know someone’s going to be inactive early in the week. Sometimes it goes all the way down to the wire. Sometimes we have to have a conversation with a guy on a Saturday morning and let him know there’s a chance you’re going to be inactive this week based on right now where we’re at either health-wise or game plan-wise, whatever it may be. It’s their job as professionals to be fully prepared and ready until the official inactives are turned in 90 minutes before the game, and it’s our job as coaches to have everybody prepared and ready for the game. That’s always something you’ve got to deal with throughout it. I don’t think any player as a competitor wants to be inactive. You get different reactions from different guys. To me, I don’t think you really want to coach any player who’s happy that he’s not being in the game – I don’t think that’s the kind of guys we’re looking for to make up our team. You want to just make sure you’re honest with them all the way across and when you watch the tape from Sunday, you’re honest on Monday and when you make the corrections, they know exactly what they have to fix and what the expectations are. You’re honest as you go through the assessment through the week of what they have to correct from practice or how they’re doing in practice. Are they competing? Are they winning their matchups? Are they doing something that’s going to lead you to say, ‘Hey, if you keep playing this way, we can’t count on you’? To me, the answer is always just be honest with people. It makes everything a whole lot easier. It doesn’t mean people are going to like it, but they will respect it.
Q: One quick follow-up, with young players especially, guys like (Cornerback) Darnay Holmes, (Tackle) Matt Peart, they’ve been in vital roles and they’ve been out of vital roles. What do you really look at in these young guys to see how they handle it if they go in the tank? Because that can happen a lot with these young guys.
A: Again, you just look to see if they improve on what you communicate with them. When anybody has a decreased role, sometimes it’s really through the game plan or the personnel groupings that we’re using, but sometimes it’s due to performance. You tell them exactly what they’re not doing up to expectations, what the plan to correct it’s going to be, what their role in correcting it has to be and how it’s supposed to look when it’s corrected. You look for how they make the correction. Again, I can deal with a lot of personalities. People have different reactions to different things. Some guys get very disappointed, some guys get angry or frustrated, some guys just keep on moving and you can’t tell if it bothers them or not. I always look for how guys work on the field and not just their visible outward reaction to it, but how they’re working on the field to go ahead and improve every week and every day they get. With us, it’s always just communicating to them, and as your role changes, communicate to them why it’s changed in a positive or negative way and then what the expectation is for them going forward.
Q: Are you considering any play-calling changes at the bye?
A: No. No, not at this moment we’re not.
Q: Injury-wise, I don’t want to leave anybody out, but I’m going to focus on two guys. (Tackle) Andrew Thomas, how much confidence do you have that he could be available coming out of the bye against Tampa Bay? And then (Running Back) Saquon Barkley, what exactly is his injury and are you optimistic that he could be back for then as well or what does his timeline look like?
A: I’d say for both guys based on the conversations that I’ve had today with trainers, I’m hopeful that we would be able to have both guys back for Tampa. I think we’ve got to give them an opportunity this week. Saquon’s obviously been out of the building for the better part of a week and that’s unfortunate because it was something he was pushing toward, really getting back on the field for us. We’ll look to get him out there and just make sure we check his conditioning and football movements and all that stuff in the week going forward with it and make sure he’s good to get back on the field. In terms of Andrew, he obviously got rolled up pretty good against the Rams, so he was placed on IR. This would be an opportunity for him to come out of that IR situation and be available. We’ll get him on the field tomorrow and have him do some things with the trainers, in terms of seeing him move around that may open up a window to get him out there a little bit more on Wednesday and do some things in practice with us. Both those guys will be here throughout the week continuing to rehab and progressing. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have both of those guys available. I wouldn’t be able to give you a definite answer right now on the exact timeline, but hopefully, it works out for those guys and for the team that we get them back sooner than later.
Q: What did they ask you about special teams? I came across a stat regarding your starting field position and just the overall special teams performance, the 12 penalties, which I think is the most in the league. I was just wondering; do you see a common thread with the play of special teams? Is it because you had different guys coming in and out or is there just something going on with that group that they are not stepping up and getting the advantage every time, they are on the field?
A: I think number one, you’ve got to eliminate the penalties. You can’t have penalties with the return game. I’d say that’s a factor we have to eliminate to keep that success because when we get the ball in our hands, we’re having a lot of shots for success in terms of the return game and that’s been something that’s been solid for us. In terms of our coverage units, they’ve been playing well all year. I’m satisfied with those guys in terms of it. I’d say in special teams especially, something (I) really learned through going through that element of the game, it’s statistics in special teams can be the most misleading thing in all of football. It’s such a situational play and how you’ve got to play it that the statistics often don’t reflect what you’re trying to accomplish on the play or if it’s a successful play or not, based on how you’re trying to punt the ball or kick the ball, what you’re trying to do within the certain aspect of the return game. Sometimes there may be more of a rush emphasis to put pressure on a specialist and you’re not going to have as much of a return element. Sometimes it’s a return element and based on who you’re playing against, you don’t always get the opportunity for a return based on what kind of ball the punter can give you. That’s what we talk about, being ready and opportunistic in the return game because you’ve got to be ready for when it comes your way. The biggest threat is you have to eliminate the post-snap issues with the penalties. We’ve had a couple that we would want to get back that eliminated some opportunities for big plays for us. That’s something going through the rest of the year we’ve got to eliminate.
Q: How did (Running Back Devontae) Booker come out of the game? He hurt his hip late.
A: He’s seeing a doctor to get the final assessments. A lot of these older guys won’t do a ton this week anyway. In terms of yesterday, he was actually cleared to come back into the game. I know Book was kind of on the sideline itching to get back in. At that point, (Fullback Eli) Penny was running the ball well and we were in a position that we didn’t have to put him back in. They’ll let us know in terms of going forward what it’s going to look like. I don’t have a definite answer on that right now, but he was cleared to come back in the game yesterday, so that’s a good sign.
Q: Did he show you enough in the last two games that when Saquon does come back that you may have to find a role for him on the offense? He was a healthy scratch at one point.
A: Yeah, I think he’s done enough all along and the plan is to have multiple guys who can carry the ball either way. Obviously, Saquon is a large part of our team and a huge part of our offense and we will find different ways to create opportunities for him to get the ball through runs, passes, different ways. Between Book and Penny and (Running Back Gary) Brightwell and (Fullback) Cullen (Gillaspia) and those other guys in the backfield, we feel confident to put them out there. Speaking directly on Book as you asked, I have a lot of confidence in Devontae. He’s done a lot of things that give us the confidence to go ahead and put him in there, and you’re always better off having two guys that can carry the ball and stay fresh out there and keep wearing down a defense. Those two-headed monster teams are tough to face. Obviously, that wouldn’t take us out of finding ways to get Saquon the ball, that’s always going to be a main point of it just as it would for all our other playmakers, but along the way you want to have a lot of depth at those positions to keep playing and have them fresh.
Q: During the bye week, do you simply just look ahead to future opponents or do you give yourself a chance to self-scout for a couple of days?
A: I think self-scout is a critical part of the bye week and look at what you’re doing well and what you’ve got to keep doing going forward. Then also looking at, alright, let’s go through the games that we played. What are some things that we’ve got to make sure that we get right or don’t repeat? A large part of it is the personnel. You’re going to get guys that are going to be looking to come back off of IR, you’ve lost some personnel from earlier in the year. You’ve got to look and make sure that while you have some time you don’t have to focus directly on another opponent. What do we have to do internally to make sure we’re using our players in the best way possible to be productive? The self-scout is a critical part for us. We’ve spent the majority of today doing that. We’ll go through this week with not only talking as a staff and what we can do better schematically or personal-wise going forward but then also talking directly to players. I think it’s important this time of year to talk to each of your players about what are a few things that they can do better and what’s the planned course of action to improve on that? You’ve got to give the guys tangible marks that they can work towards in this part of the year and understand, okay, to be the best player I can be, what do I have to do? You want to get ahead a little bit on the opponents, so there’s an element of the guys we have coming up – Tampa and Philly and those teams – of getting a jump start on from a breakdown standpoint, get your cut-ups ready. But in terms of talking with the team, there’s the combination of you can show them a couple of schemes of things they’re going to see, but then there’s also that element of internal self-scout that we really want to make sure we get corrected.
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players return to practice on Tuesday.