EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Here are a few takeaways from Joe Judge’s introductory press conference as head coach of the New York Giants.
The Giants went all out
This is the third head-coach hiring for the Giants that I have covered. It was nothing like the first two. Those were held in the team’s headquarters with speeches in the auditorium.
This was different. It was held in the Coaches Club at MetLife Stadium. There were signs billboards lit up all over the facility welcoming the new coach. Even in the day leading up to the press conference, the Giants solicited quotes from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Alabama coach Nick Saban and others who had worked with Judge.
There was more glitz to this one. It was a different kind of hire for the Giants, and they treated it that way.
Co-owner John Mara said that the Giants were wowed by Judge to the point that they felt “this is our guy” when he interviewed on Monday. They were, however, still going to go through with the scheduled Matt Rhule interview on Tuesday. Until, that is, they heard the seven-year deal Rhule had from the Carolina Panthers that he was asking them to match.
“It was a seven-year deal. I had a brief conversation with Steve (Tisch) and Dave (Gettleman), and we agreed that we were not going there, for a number of reasons. One, we weren’t going with a seven-year deal with anybody. But more importantly, we had somebody we were excited about. So, we went ahead and made Joe the coach.”
Judge is all about fundamentals
He isn’t bringing a set offensive or defensive scheme with him. He’s bringing a physicalm, fundamentals first philosophy.
“What I’m about is an old-school, physical mentality,” he said, adding that he wants a “relentless, competitive attitude.”
“I’m not going to be the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator or the special teams coordinator. I’ll work with all three sides of the ball.
“The primary focus I’m going to have as a head coach is I’m going to make sure we are fundamentally sound, we are situationally aware and that we play with relentless effort.”
Judge believes in teaching
What does he want in assistant coaches? He doesn’t want a specific scheme. He wants guys who will teach players, and who will look for what they can do rather than what they can’t do.
“My priority is to put the right men around these players that they can come to work every day, they can be coached hard, they can be taught. I want good people. Before anything if you’re going to work in an organization you’re a good person. I don’t want any alternative agendas.
“I want teachers, not presenters. I don’t want someone who looks fancy in front of a screen who can sell you a lot of different sales lines. I want teachers. I want old-school people who can get to our players and give them the mental image of what it’s supposed to look like. ...
“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.”
He always doesn’t want to hear “can’t” from coaches.
“Don’t sit in a meeting and tell me what you don’t have in a player. Tell me what they can do and then we’ll figure out as coaches, because that’s our job, how we can use that. That’s our responsibility.”
Dave Gettleman has to love this
There has been so much talk about Gettleman being a dinosaur. About him being hard to work with. About the possibility some candidates might not even take interviews because of his presence.
Then, along comes a 38-year-old who will be the league’s third-youngest coach who appears to have a philosophy cloned from Gettleman’s belief about what’s important.
When asked about Judge Gettleman said “our philosophies mesh.” He added that he had never met Judge until Monday, but that he quickly felt comfortable with him. He said they see talent evaluation the same way.
Judge said talking with Gettleman has been “tremendous.” He expanded on how they see personnel in a similar way.
“You have to know who you can use with a limited menu ... I’ve got to know what everybody does so I can put those ingredients together and get the most out of them.”
He said he and Gettleman both believe in studying players “as a player and an athlete,” not necessarily in a position-specific way.
“I’m used to looking at things in a big-picture perspective in terms of what they bring to the team as a whole ... I want to know what kind of athlete this man is and how we can use his toolset to our advantage.”
The Giants will “practice with a physical attitude”
At least as much as the rules allow. Judge said the Giants will practice in pads and will practice live tackling, something we haven’t seen in a Giants practice in many years.
“Not to make a statement or because 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.”
Bringing a Belichick principle
I always remember a story ex-Giant Jonathan Casillas once told me about joining the Patriots in midseason and not being given a playbook. He was stunned to learn he didn’t need one. All he needed was to learn each week’s game plan, because it had nothing to do with what they had done the week before.
Judge sounded on Thursday like he wants to bring that philosophy to the Giants.
“Our philosophy is going to be to put pressure on our opponent to prepare for multiple things. Within that we have to have personnel versatility and we have to have flexibility schematically to make sure that whoever we play we can adjust our game play to maximize our strengths vs. their weaknesses ... We’re going to look for the best system to help us week by week.“
What about culture?
That always comes up, and Judge said Thursday that all he wants is “a winning culture.”
“What that means is everybody comes to work every day regardless of how they feel and puts the team first. Period.”
He’s not trying to be Belichick or Saban
Judge has worked for two of the greatest coaches of our time, maybe the greatest. But, he isn’t going to try to be them.
“I’m not trying to emulate anyone I’ve ever worked for. I’m trying to take what I’ve learned from them and what matches up with my belief structure and do it in my own personality.”
Judge thinks the Giants’ job is a great one
The Giants have lost some credibility in recent years. Judge, though, still sees the job he just accepted as one of the best available. He called it a “unique opportunity.
“There’s 32 teams in this league, that’s not a lot. The reality of it is there’s few of those that have a chance of winning. The reality of that is there’s very few2 of those that have a chance of winning that have tradition and history behind them,” Judge said. “I don’t take this lightly. There’s not 32 great programs in this league. The truth is the Giants are one of the top. That’s what makes this job intriguing.”