Legendary Giants coach Bill Parcells' advice to Joe Judge: 'Be yourself'
Being a first-time head coach in the NFL is tough in a normal year. Having your first year as a head coach occur during a global pandemic takes those difficulties to another level.
Hall of Fame Giants coach Bill Parcells knows all about first-year struggles. Parcells took over as the head coach of the Giants in 1983, leading the team to a 3-12-1 record that season.
He admitted to trying to do too much in his first season leading the team, which is why he offered some simple advice for Joe Judge: "Be yourself."
Judge has done a great job of handling all of the adversity thrown at him over the last six months. However, the biggest obstacle still lies ahead of him, as he will have to cut the roster from 80 players to 53 over the next few weeks without the benefit of seeing them play in preseason games.
"I think it's very difficult for a first-year head coach," Parcells told Steve Serby of The New York Post, "and I also think it's very difficult for first-year coordinators. There's a lot happening in preseason besides the players. The coaching staff has to get itself organized. Game communication: Who's where? Who's doing what? Who's in charge of substitution? Who's watching timeouts. Who's doing this, who's doing that? They don't even have a chance to practice that under real game conditions."
While this may be Judge's first go-around leading an entire team, several members of his staff have head coaching experience. Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens led the Cleveland Browns in 2019, while outside linebackers coach/senior assistant Bret Bielema coached Wisconsin and Arkansas for a total of 12 years. Additionally, senior offensive assistant Derek Dooley spent six seasons at the helm for Louisiana Tech and Tennessee.
But possibly the biggest boost provided to Judge this season will be the decade of head coaching experience offensive coordinator Jason Garrett brings to the table, which Parcells described as "invaluable" for Judge. Garrett went 85-67 during his time in Dallas, leading the Cowboys to three division titles in addition to taking home the 2016 NFL Coach of the Year Award.
Judge will have to lean on his veteran assistants over the next couple of weeks, as the Giants and the rest of the NFL, will get only 14 padded practices before the regular season kicks off.
"We had 24 practices before our first preseason game," Parcells said. "And 50 before our first regular season game. And these guys are gonna have 14 padded practices before your first regular season game. I used to have that in 10 days."
Judge has already begun to implement some old-school coaching methods in training camp. If a mistake is made during practice, the player who made the mistake is charged with penalty laps around the field. This goes for the assistant coaches, too, as Judge is trying to teach everyone on the team about accountability.
Another technique the new head coach has incorporated into training camp is the removal of last names from the back of players' jerseys. This move seemed to impress Parcells, a two-time Super Bowl champion who also used this technique when he was a head coach.
"You want your coaches, first of all, on the film to be able to identify the players by what they're doing, not by what number they got," Parcells said. "You gotta know 'em by sight."
Must-see photos of the Giants in action with training camp now in full swing in East Rutherford, N.J.
'X' marks the spot on Giants' new defense
X twice marks the spot on the Giants' defense this season.
In 2019, Oshane Ximines joined the team as a third-round draft choice and the first player ever selected from Old Dominion University. Called "X Man" by just about everyone, he played in all 16 games and had 4.5 sacks as a rookie.
This year, the Giants' second-round selection was safety Xavier McKinney from Alabama.
So, the question now is, which defender now gets the nickname?
"We both have it," Ximines said today. "We're both the X-man. X is a good guy, I like him.
"Yes, I do call him X."
Both young players could be essential contributors in defensive coordinator Pat Graham's scheme – linebacker X hopes to deliver a most valuable commodity, a persistent pass rush, while safety X is competing for a starting job and playing time in the back of the defense.
As a rookie, Ximines finished with 24 tackles (11 solo). He twice sacked Carson Wentz in a Monday night game in Philadelphia and his 4.5 sacks tied him with second-year linebacker Lorenzo Carter for second on the team, behind Markus Golden, who had 10 sacks.
"Rookie year was great, I learned a lot of things," Ximines said. "In year two I'm just looking to do whatever I have to do to help the team win. Coming in learning the playbook and doing whatever I have to do every single day. Getting better and being an asset to the team.
"After playing a full season I kind of already know what to expect when it comes to camp and different schemes on the field and things like that. It's good going into year two, you feel a lot more comfortable."
Notebook: Joe Judge's takeaways from scrimmage
Giants coach Joe Judge often avoids specifics when asked to evaluate players, but today he offered insight not to his conclusions, but the process by which he reaches them.
Judge, who oversaw his first intrasquad scrimmage on Friday, was asked if he assesses both an individual player's progress and how he works within his unit.
"Absolutely," Judge said. "In fact, when I go back and I watch the tape from the scrimmage, you watch it three different times. First, you watch it schematically. Then you watch it fundamentally. Then you watch from a personnel standpoint. As you watch it every time over and over differently, you try to pick up as much as you can and continuously write down notes. There were several players coming out that we had to address some fundamental corrections today. We made sure we took time individually to walk through the techniques. Tomorrow, we'll be out there full-speed tempo so that we can go ahead and take those same techniques and execute them again. These guys are less than two weeks in to playing football in 2020, so we can't take for granted that they need the fundamental work on a daily basis."
Judge continually stresses that his coaches must be good teachers.
"That's how we approach everything," Judge said. "To us, they have to hit every player individually and however they learn best. We spent the spring virtually on computers looking at each other. Some guys absorbed more than others. You get them in person now, some guys can sit in a meeting and absorb it. Some guys have to watch tape of examples of it being done the right way. A lot of guys need to be on their feet and experience it to really understand the concept. Now that we're in person, we're looking to hit every way of teaching with every player possible."
So…what were some of Judge's takeaways from the scrimmage?
"I like the way everyone came out and competed," he said. "That definitely showed up on the tape. Guys were flying around, guys were playing fast. I thought we had good communication on both sides of the ball. We had a lot of substitutions situations at both sides handled accordingly. You saw a lot of young guys step up and play faster on Friday than we had earlier in the week. You can tell they're getting more confident and comfortable within the scheme. That was definitely something that showed up right away."
Photos: Giants back in action at training camp
Check out the gallery below to view photos from Sunday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
View photos from Sunday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center