Dave Gettleman will turn 69 years old next month. Many consider him a dinosaur with antiquated philosophies in an NFL that has changed. Joe Judge just turned 38 and is now the third-youngest head coach in the NFL.
Yet, somehow the New York Giants have found a general manager and a coach who see many things about the game on the field and the personnel you need to collect to play it the same way.
“Our philosophies mesh,” said Gettleman, the embattled general manager, on Thursday.
That certainly appears to be the case.
Consider some of the following.
The basics of winning:
Gettleman always says there are three basic tenets to winning — run the ball, stop the run, rush the passer.
In an exclusive interview with Bob Papa before Thursday’s introductory press conference, Judge you have to “run the ball, stop the run, cover kicks” to win.
Gettleman: “The bottom line is, there’s an old saying in coaching, ‘The last guy with the chalk wins.’ At the end of the day if you’re not fundamentally sound, and you look at the teams, me as an evaluator, watching the teams that are in the playoffs, they are all fundamentally sound.”
Judge: “The margins of error in this league are too small. You cannot get by with some kind of magic scheme or new gimmick or think you’ve reinvented the wheel. The same things win football games that have always won football games. It’s fundamentals.”
Judge said he has an “old school physical mentality.” He also mentioned “old-school” when talking about wanting “teachers, not presenters” as assistant coaches.
Gettleman said jokingly that it “doesn’t bother me” that Judge talked about an old-school approach.
“Old school to me means you’re always going to be strong with the basics. The fancy schmancy is nice, but you get to that when your basics are sound. To me, that’s what old school is.”
Gettleman: “First of all, he has to coach the team the way he feels comfortable. The biggest thing was when he came in and said, ‘You have to run the ball, you have to stop the run, and let’s play special teams.’ There’s a toughness that you develop when you build your team to do those kinds of things. People say it’s a passing league, I get that, but that graphic on Sunday afternoon should not have been lost on everybody. Top four passing teams were not in the playoffs, the top four rushing teams were in the playoffs. Don’t quote me but most of the teams were in the top I think 12 in terms of rushing. Again, it’s a physical, violent game and if you don’t build your team to do that late in the year when the weather’s lousy and it’s mush out there, the tougher team is going to win.”
Judge: “It’s a contact sport, you can’t get around that. It’s meant to be a physical game. It’s for tough people. We will practice with a physical attitude. We will practice in pads, we will practice live tackling — not to make a statement that we’re trying to be tough. We’re going to practice live tackling because I believe in doing it safely. You want to make your players safer, you start by instructing them how to do it. We’re going to work on everything we do. Everything we ask them to do at full speed on Sunday at a competitive level we’re going to make sure that we have practiced, corrected, and re-practiced before they have to do it at a live pace.”
Gettleman: “What’s happened is the college football game is not our (NFL) game. It’s a completely different game. Bottom line is I’ve had this theory for a while and I employed it down in Carolina. It’s about in college looking at the guy ‘is he athletic, is he smart, is he competitive, is he tough, is he strong, is he explosive, does he have play speed.’ You’re looking at the whole, you’re not picking at ‘how does he use his hands, how does he doe this, how does he do that’ because fundamentally they don’t teach that stuff on the college level. That’s how he (Judge) looks at it, so that got me excited.”
Judge: “I couldn’t have been more excited walking in here than sitting down with Mr. Gettleman. It’s been tremendous. Listen, from a scout’s view, from a coach’s view, the one thing that I’ve been privileged to do is my role in New England when I first went there was heavy on personnel. Being a special teams coach, you have to know every player on your team inside and out because you have to know who you can use with a limited menu. It’s kind of like when you’re hungry, you go to the fridge, your Dad says figure out a way to make a sandwich. You know it’s in there, but you’ve got to find a way because you’ve got to eat. So, I’ve got to know what everybody does so I can put those ingredients together and get the most out of it.
“So, what I’ve prepared myself for was leading into every draft I studied every player in the draft as a player and an athlete. I didn’t look at them as a receiver, I didn’t look at them as a tight end, I didn’t look at them as a linebacker. I want to know how they moved — are they stiff in the hips, are they a straight-line speed guy, do they use their hands, what kind of short area quickness do they have, what kind of top end speed do they have, do they turn down contact. So, I’m used to looking at things from a big picture perspective on players in terms of what they bring to the team as a whole. You can turn around and say, ‘How good is this guy as a running back?’ Well, there’s different kinds of running backs. I want to know what kind of athlete this man is and how we can use his toolset to our advantage.”
What does it all mean?
Whether you like Gettleman, whether you believe the “old-school” beliefs are still the right ones, or not I think you have to view this meshing of philosophies as a good thing.
A GM and head coach have to be on the same page about the type of team they are constructing and the type of players they need to construct it. I have said before and it’s worth reiterating that I felt one of the problems in Tom Coughlin’s final years was that he and Jerry Reese simply didn’t have the same vision. Not that one was right and one was wrong, but if you have different visions it becomes difficult to build a functional roster.
It doesn’t sound as though that is going to be an issue.
The Giants’ power structure is going to remain essentially the same as it always has. Judge will coach. Gettleman will handle personnel.
“It’s certainly not business as usual when you hire somebody as a first-time head coach who’s 38 years old,” co-owner said John Mara said on Thursday. “But I think he and Dave will work very well together. Dave does not go to a coach and say, ‘Here are your players. Go coach them.’ It’s a collaboration. It’s a partnership. They talk it out, they watch tape together and then they come to an agreement. I’ve never had to step into a situation and break a tie, because (Dave) believes in working towards an agreement, making it a partnership, and I’m confident that it’s going to work out that way here.”
Gettleman said the idea that he will dictate the roster without input from Judge and his coaching staff regarding what and who they want is nonsense.
“It’s going to be collaborative. I don’t understand where that notion comes from. That notion has got to be coming from people that have never worked with me,” Gettleman said.
“At the end of the day, it’s about building consensus and it’s about getting to the right place. I’ve been doing this long enough with Ron (Rivera) and then Pat (Shurmur), whatever. We’re going to get to the right place. It’s not … It’s about the right answer.”
Consensus, of course, is easier to reach when you start from a common set of beliefs. From what we heard on Thursday, it seems the unlikely pair of Gettleman and Judge have found that common ground.
It’s a good place to start as they work together to, in Judge’s words “put a product on the field that the people of this city and region are going to be proud of.”