Despite having to navigate through his first year as an NFL head coach and during a pandemic no less, New York Giants head coach Joe Judge still managed to build up enough of a foundation with his players to where they fought for him right down until the very end.
Now in Year 2 of his head coaching career—and with the ability to run more of a normal football spring program that has included on-field work and OTAs—Judge's goals are simple.
He's not only looking to have the team build on what it started last year, but he’s also looking to strengthen his relationship with his players while also building a two-way street of trust with the new guys added to the roster over the off-season.
According to SI.com’s Albert Breer, Judge is still finding ways to push the players’ buttons but is doing so in an organic fashion. Breer revealed that during Friday’s OTA practice, Judge challenged the offense and defense on a fourth-and-goal scenario at the end of practice, promising the winning unit that they would be excused from running post-practice sprints.
“I could hear the defense chirping, I could hear the offense chirping, I had guys in and out of huddle turning back to me, smiling, laughing—We get this, no conditioning, right?” Judge told Breer.
“But when they went out there and broke the huddle, boom, it was all business. And that’s what I want it to look like. I want it to be good competition, enjoying the game, really loving football, and at the same time, when it’s time to work, time to be ready to go, they’re tuned in, they’re locked in, they’re ready to go. It [wasn’t] like, Let’s get this out of the way and we’re on to the weekend. They were having fun with the situation.”
Make no mistake. Judge is about as buttoned-down of a coach as they come. His intention isn’t to run a country club, and he also isn’t there to allow for individual egos—players or coaches—to swell to the size of hot air balloons.
But contrary to the understanding of some outside national media who have never witnessed a Giants practice as run by Judge, he hasn’t assumed the role of a drill sergeant, nor has it been a case of Do as I say, not as I do.
Consider that the Giants had approximately 70 players in attendance at their OTAs—and Breer revealed that the number might have been higher had some guys not been held out due to a stomach bug—and that’s pretty impressive considering Judge didn’t have to dangle the carrot of lessening the intensity of the off-season workouts as some teams around did to get people into their buildings.
While all this is a positive development, it’s also important to remember that the Giants are in the early stages of their 2021 season preparation, a stage that will move to the next level this week when the entire team (minus those players who are still rehabbing) will hit the field for the three-day mandatory minicamp that begins Tuesday.
But even when that event begins, don’t expect Judge and his staff to make any decisions regarding roster spots or starting jobs once the three-day camp is over.
“The first part is, see where our players are at physically," Judge said at the start of the OTA period this year. "Until I know these guys can go out and operate at 100 percent and stay healthy and protect themselves on the field, soft tissues, and we want to avoid collisions at this part of the camp. Until we know that, we are not really going to go ahead and keep this as a competitive drill.
“You have to take the mental steps forward in terms of the understanding of the scheme and you have to develop chemistry with the communication on offense and defense. This is a great time of year to have it. You're not preparing for an opponent, and you can take it day-by-day and challenge the players in different ways and see the interaction grow with young and old guys.”
MORE COVERAGE FROM FRIDAY’S OTA
- Offensive Lineman Brett Heggie Ready to Compete for Giants Roster Spot
- New York Giants TE Evan Engram is Ready to Move on From Last Season
- Nick Gates: Giants O-line Coach Rob Sale a Good Teacher
- What Does Kenny Golladay Bring to the New York Giants Offense?
- New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge is Pleased with Rookies' Progress
- Things We Learned from Friday's New York Giants OTA Practice
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