Kaden Smith, Chris Myarick, and Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports
SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Friday to discuss his team’s 30-29 loss to the Washington Football Team and the current state of his team:
Q: We asked you a little about this last night, but (Wide Receiver) Kenny Golladay was seen on the sideline yelling at either (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) or (Offensive Coordinator) Jason Garrett – I think it’s unclear. Then, last night (Wide Receiver) Kadarius Toney posted a message on Instagram that kind of indicated he was frustrated. Are you concerned that you have two of your key offensive players publicly expressing their frustration that way, especially with the way you guys handled Golden Tate last year?
A: No, I haven’t seen anything on Instagram yet. (Sr. Vice President of Communications) Pat (Hanlon) briefly explained something to me, I don’t know what it’s in reference to. Look, I’ll talk to all of our players. In terms of what you asked about with Kenny, I’ll go with the same thing I said last night, I talked to the players, talked to the coaches that were involved and everyone has kind of dismissed everything in terms of there was no conflict. It was more just emotions on the sideline, talking through situations, things going. Our guys have good relationships, they work together. I don’t really see any issue with that right there, so talked with the players involved and they were good.
Q: You talk a lot about ‘mentally tough,’ your team is mentally tough, but when you see some of the mistakes they made last night – the false starts in the plus area, two late drives, obviously (Defensive Lineman Dexter Lawrence) Dex at the end — do you feel that your team is where they need to be as far as ‘mentally tough’ that you talk about all the time?
A: I don’t think any team at this moment in time in the season is where they need to be in any regard, so we’re far from a finished product. We’re going to keep working every week, getting going. We talk about mental toughness around here, it’s about doing what’s best for the team when it’s not always what’s right for you. We’re going to make sure that we have guys that are willing to put the team first in everything we do. We’re going to work hard through adversity, in terms of how they respond on a daily basis. I have no doubt about the guys and the character that we have in the locker room. We’ve got to make sure we continue to improve on the details and we keep on playing to be a more disciplined team and not do things that cost us opportunities. But in terms of our resiliency as a team, I have no question about that. We’ll keep on pushing these guys and working. In terms of where any team is at this point of the season – look, if we thought that we were a finished product at this point, then we’d have a lot of trouble because it’s a long season. We’ve got 15 more games to play. We’ve got to keep improving week by week.
Q: Going back to the situation there with 2:16 left after (Cornerback James) Bradberry’s interception, obviously Jason Garrett is calling the plays, but that’s your decision there to run the ball a couple of times, play what we would consider conservatively. I’m wondering if in hindsight that still is the right decision to you because watching a lot of football, it seems to be defenses in that spot lose more than they win when they do that. Not playing for the touchdown (and) leaving the game in the defense’s hands seems to not be the right decision these days with today’s NFL.
A: I don’t know at any point that we said we’ll leave it in the defense’s hands. I think we gave the ball to our running back for two good runs and tried to get it vertical. We took a chance on third down with a reception. Had we converted right there, it would’ve been a different story in a lot of things. In terms of playing the situation, I got it, a lot of people watch a lot of football. I watch every two-minute drive in the league every week looking at the different decisions that are made and how they play out. We use all that in our decision-making with our own team in terms of playing to our strengths. A team with three timeouts right there in that situation – it’s a situation there that we trust our run game to get that thing going vertical, produce the yards to get a first down, (on) third down convert and if you don’t get that, you get the points, you turn around and you’ve got to play the other side of the situation on defense. There’s a lot of things you could do. You can go out and throw three passes and you feel like you’re very aggressive, right? Then all of a sudden, they don’t have to use three timeouts. You give them the ball with plenty of time before the two-minute and they go ahead and have a two-minute drive with a lot of timeouts left as well, right? You could turn around and say that ‘aggressive’ is to go out there and just start being a gunslinger and make decisions that sometimes you want to make off of emotion, but I want to make calculated decisions in terms of playing to some of our strengths as a team. You’ve got to be able to run the ball when you have to run the ball and you’ve got to be able complete passes when you have to complete passes, and that’s what we had to do in that situation there. The decision we made was the decision we made and we’ve got to execute better to finish the game out.
Q: Somebody had a report that you were screaming on the sideline before the Dexter Lawrence penalty, that you saw him offsides and were screaming ‘Get back, get back, get back.’ Is that how it went down, you saw it and I guess had no timeouts to call and save Dex from that penalty?
A: Absolutely not. He wasn’t lined up offsides, so there wouldn’t have been anything to tell Dex to back up. I remind guys on a constant basis in those situations different things, so I wasn’t communicating anything directly to Dex on that play.
Q: I know you said you wanted to go over the film last night on the train with (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Pat (Graham) and go over the defense. What did you see there? What concerns you about the defense and its inability to seal off that win?
A: I thought there was a lot of positive things that we did last night in all aspects of the game. Obviously, there are things we’ve got to clean up and eliminate – mistakes, eliminate opportunities for the other team to make plays. Getting off the field on third down is a focus of ours. We played better on third down last night than we did last week. That’s big. We’ve got to finish in the two-minute more with the defense. That’s something we’ve got to go ahead and focus on right now as far as getting them off. Obviously, they made some plays going down the stretch and we’ve got to make sure we clean up some details as we go on through it with everyone on the board, and make sure we eliminate some opportunities for the other team to have success. But as I stressed to the team, it’s at this point in the year, it’s not some magical scheme there we draw up and go out there. It’s about details. It’s about fixing the little things one by one and making sure we’re on the same page and playing together 11 at a time. If we go out there and if everyone does their job the right way, we’ll have success. We’ve got to call it the right way, we’ve got to put our players in position to make plays and we have to go out there and execute.
Q: Two things, did (Center) Nick (Gates) have surgery and how do you think the offensive line responded?
A: We just left the staff meeting a second ago. I got a text, I haven’t checked fully. I believe he did have the surgery. I have to talk to the trainers still because it was a later arrival today. We haven’t talked to the trainers yet because a lot of players haven’t come through yet for their normal treatment and checkup. In terms of the offensive line as a whole, I was very encouraged by a lot of things. I thought mixing some different people in there – obviously, (Center) Billy (Price) in there for the first time, getting (Offensive Lineman) Ben (Bredeson) back in as a left guard, thought (Tackle) Nate (Solder) and (Tackle) Andrew (Thomas) did a solid job on the edges right there. I think that unit’s really moving in the direction we want it to and although we’re far from a finished product and far from perfect right now, I’m very encouraged by how these guys continue to work and support each other and take coaching and go out there on a weekly basis. I think they’ve obviously seen two very, very talented fronts so far to start the season. I don’t know if any of them get any more talented than what we saw last night. The ability to go out there and operate together and allow Daniel to get the ball out on time and move the ball down the field.
Q: Other than the loss, what disappointed you most when you watched that game back?
A: To be honest with you, I don’t really focus on the emotion of frustration, disappointment or anything like that. That’s not really something that’s going to help you be productive going forward. I say it all the time, I think it’s important we talk about the process. To me, again, the truth is the truth. Regardless of the outcome, you’ve got to come in and really view it objectively of understanding what do we have to correct and what do we do well enough to go ahead and build on. At this time of year in September, it’s a large part of finding out who you are as a team, it’s a large part of finding out what you’re going to do schematically really with the people you have going forward. That’s an aspect right there for us that – I thought we saw a lot of things last night on all three phases where you say, ‘Okay, we found another step and a piece of where we’re going to really be identity-wise, what’s going to help us going forward.’ Obviously, along the way you say, ‘Guys, it’s early season, we can’t go out there and shoot ourselves in the foot.’ But we’ve got to make sure that we keep going, detailed football and eliminate these mistakes and be on track to be a good team. I told the team last night, I said, ‘Look, we’ve got to make sure we come in and we’re just very detailed and we’re very receptive to coaching. As coaches, we’re very detailed and we’re just being good educators and putting the players in the right position,’ because you think back and you can go back to what you want to say (about) us last year, we started off slow. What got us on track and what got us playing as a team was everyone staying committed to the process and improving on a weekly basis and understanding that when you turn on the tape, that’s the truth. The truth is not found on Twitter, the truth is not found in the articles you read outside the building. The truth is found on the film and the coaching you’re receiving and how you execute as a player when you’re on the field. That’s what the truth is and if we understand and we stick to the truth of what it is, then all of a sudden we’ll be a better team. We have to keep improving down the stretch. For us, it’s not about coming in with emotions one way or another, it’s about coming in and getting better as a team by understanding what’s on the tape, what we have to build with, what we have to correct and what we have to be going forward.
Q: Did (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) come through okay and what did you think of him?
A: I was really pleased with Saquon last night as far as how he went out there. Again, I haven’t seen him today. I’m sure every player has nicks and bruises after games, but I thought his football conditioning really looked good. That’s something we’ve had to really try and push and build him into. He’s done a really good job for us working to do that. When you jump over from rehab into practice, that’s a different animal, it just truly is. We try to do everything we can to simulate for our players of replicating a practice when they’re not with us as a team, but there’s just a natural change when you get the pads on and you get moving around with the team. He’s worked real hard at that. I was pleased at how he moved around last night. He did some good things for us in the game. He played tough for us. He ran the ball hard. He had the explosive run for us and did some nice things in the passing game. Obviously, he’s going to be a key part of our offense and our team. He’s a key leader on our team. We’ll keep finding ways to be creative and get it to him. Again, look, this guy getting out there, getting his feet wet the first couple of weeks and getting moving with it, I’m really encouraged with where he’s at right now.
Q: Just a follow up on that with Saquon, I think he played 85 percent of the snaps. How much was that the plan or how much was that just kind of the way it worked out there?
A: Well I’ve said from the beginning, it’s kind of when the doctors say you’re clear to go, you’re clear to go. So we’ve got to make sure we put a guy on the field right there that he’s going to be okay. Obviously, last week was a little bit different in terms of kind of getting him in there and getting rolling, and that was kind of controlled a little bit by the packages we were using him – not trying to go ahead and let him drink from a fire hose on his first day back. It wasn’t so much that he was on a pitch count last week, it was just more we structured how he was going to be used within the game to kind of let him build himself back into it. This week the emphasis was let’s put him out there and let him go play. We rotate all of our players for the most part. We roll guys in and out. Running backs are definitely one of those positions you’re going to see multiple guys at from really every team in every game. No different for us here. I was pleased with the way he responded on the short week and came back. Physically, he looks good. Obviously, like all players, he’ll get a little extra downtime, some rest, time to get their bodies back right now and then got to get plowing ahead going forward.
Q: With Kadarius, I know you said you didn’t see the social media post, but how much have you sensed any frustration with him? Obviously, he didn’t touch the ball yesterday, so he is playing probably a smaller role than maybe he was expected to, that he expected or that he is used to. How much have you seen any frustration with him, and have you had to talk to him about that at all?
A: I talk to all of our players all the time, especially our young players, in terms of getting in and how the game flow may go and differences in the league from college. But that’s no exception for any player. I would say in terms of KT, I see a guy that shows up every day and works hard. That’s what I see. So, in terms of trying to gauge somebody’s emotions, I judge them based on their actions and how they work, and I’ve seen a guy that’s come to practice every day and the meetings and (has) been attentive. He’s worked hard on the field. He’s going to continue to improve as a player and build himself in as an intricate part of our offense.
Q: So you would be surprised, based on that, that he was upset about his playing time already?
A: I’m not going to go ahead and react to anything until I talk to a player individually. So, whatever may or may not be out there, again, I’m not going to react to something I haven’t seen or talked about, so I’ll just talk directly with the players.
Q: First, just quickly, I want to finish up something on Kadarius. Football-wise he had 19 snaps, no targets, no touches. Football-wise, what is he not doing on the field to get the ball?
A: I wouldn’t put anything directly on that. We’ll just keep working within our system and schemes. Look, for every skill player, it’s not your job to go out there and manufacture a play. It’s when the ball comes your way to make a play with it. It’s that simple. So when the ball comes his way, we have faith he’ll have the ball in his hands and make a play. We’ve seen that before from him. Right now, we’ve got a lot of guys making a lot of plays and sometimes it’s just the way things are dictated by coverage or look. Sometimes that goes ahead and dictates where the ball is going to. He’s obviously a part of our team. We’re looking to involve him as much as possible and that’ll continue growing as we go forward.
Q: You talked about telling the truth and educating and using everything you can with your coaching staff to get these guys on the right page, but do you have to be an amateur psychologist or psychiatrist at times as the head coach? If so, do you have a team whose psyches are a little bit wounded here after these first two games?
A: I see guys that come to work every day and are working hard. Like I said, I judge people on their actions. I thought we came out yesterday, we had great energy, we competed for 60 minutes. You talked about guys who are down maybe, you don’t see that from guys when they’re out there fighting for each other. In terms of being an amateur psychologist, look, I just look at it in terms of more just knowing people. I think it’s a job to have relationships with people and understand where they’re at personality-wise and understand what’s going on in their personal life and understanding some things externally outside the building that may factor inside sometimes with their moods. But that all comes down to team building, establishing relationships with your players and making sure that you understand where they are on a daily basis. Look, there’s a lot of different personalities. Not everyone’s the same. In fact, you get a lot of different type of guys with different backgrounds, different upbringings, a lot of different things. The important thing is that you can identify where guys are at and get everyone centered on the team goals and have everyone understand they’re working together for a collective goal.
Q: You talk a lot about improvement week to week and obviously you want to get better, but do you understand the frustration from the outside that the bottom line is winning and that sooner or later that improvement has to end up in victories?
A: I don’t know if there’s anyone more conscious of that than me. I’m very conscious of we’re in a production business. I’m very conscious of what we have to do as a team. I’m very conscious of the things we have to improve on on a daily basis and a weekly basis. But the key thing I keep going back to is to have those results, to have those bottom-line results, you’ve got to improve. You’ve got to keep building as a team and you’ve got to be in a better place. Look, our job is to go out there and give the fans entertainment and to give them something to cheer for. That’s our job and that’s our responsibility. I say it all the time, we don’t ask the fans for anything. We have to earn it and when they give it, it’s been earned. I’m 100-percent onboard with the fans and what they want to see, and that’s what we’re working to give them is that product on the field. But when you want to get those results, it ain’t about being frustrated to get results, it’s about working to get results. We’re going to come back to work like we do every week, keep putting them together and making sure we’re improving as a team and at the end of the day keep putting a better product on the field. We took a step forward this week in a lot of ways and there’s things we’ve got to correct and clean up going forward, but the point with our team is we’ve got to keep improving on a weekly basis to get where we want to go.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum: