EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – If Daniel Jones is to meet his Giant expectations, he must first master the little obligations that are vital to all successful NFL quarterbacks.
That was evident when Joe Judge was asked on a Zoom call today where he is looking for improvement this season in his second-year quarterback. The Giants' coach didn't say anything about victories or scoring points or mention statistics like completion percentage or passer rating. Instead, he stuck to the mastering of the basics of the position.
"I think the biggest thing he can work on right now is just being out there with the team," Judge said. "Calling a play in the huddle, breaking the huddle, getting to the line, identifying the defensive front, making any checks at the line of scrimmage and then executing a cadence that everyone can work off of. Things that may seem so small are the fundamentals he has to start every successful play with. The biggest thing he can do is just to be in a groove with the team and hear his voice."
Judge said backup quarterbacks Colt McCoy, Cooper Rush and Alex Tanney face the same challenge.
"Along with Colt, Cooper and Alex, it's very important for everyone to hear our quarterbacks' cadences," Judge said. "They are all unique in their own way. We have to make sure they get used to hearing the play called in the huddle and get used to hearing the cadence at the line of scrimmage. This time right here is the most exposure our players are getting as far as working at a whole tempo with each other is in our on field conditioning periods. We are allowed to use footballs in some of those periods, as far as agilities it allows to run some routes on air. Building in the timing with his teammates is good. Remember it's a new year for everybody. It's a new year for Daniel and the receivers. The have to get some chemistry established and built whether they were together last year or a new guy on the roster, that's important for everyone to understand."
All NFL teams are limited to how much they can currently do on the field by the agreement between the NFL and the Players Association. Much time in these early training camp days are spent on strength and conditioning and working in position groups or with the offense and defense split up. But the Giants do have full-squad walk-throughs.
Jones is no different from the other offensive players in that he is trying to master a new scheme. But his performance will largely dictate how successful the team is in executing it.
"We are starting completely over right now, and we have to start from ground zero," Judge said. "I'd say with the quarterback, there is never just one thing. All of our players are looking for total improvement as a player. With a quarterback, it's all a mental game. It's really the grasping and the understanding. If it was somebody's second year in the offense, you would want to see their command of the offense on the field. For Daniel, we have to be fair. It's a new offense, a new system we have schemed for him. He's had a limited amount of walk-throughs of actually being on the field to do this. At this point, I am just looking to see his progress day by day and not looking to compare him to where he was last year."
Judge said Jones will call plays similarly to how he did as a rookie in 2019.
"Obviously, there's a unique communication set," Judge said. "He has Jason (Garrett, the offensive coordinator) calling plays in his ear now, then he has to call a huddle, he has 10 guys looking at him and they have to hear it a different way. The difference in the language always ties into how you can say it and present it to the team. You want to say it in certain rhythm so they get used to hearing everything from the personnel, to the formation, to the protection, the play call and then what the cadence is going to be before they break the huddle.
"While that sounds very simple, this year will be a little different, but imagine doing it in front of 85,000 people screaming in your ear as you're doing it. It's important for the other 10 guys in the huddle to understand how he presents the play and how he breaks up the phrases so it all works and runs together. It's important in a huddle that everyone understands not every word speaks to me. You have to decipher and pick which direct words speak to you on each play and tells you what your assignment is. It's important that he develops that cadence in the huddle of how he presents those plays. In terms of how he did it last year, I wasn't here. I would say the generalities of receiving a play and giving a play, that's obviously right there something he has experience with."
*The Giants had the option of keeping their roster at 90 players until full-pads practices begin on Aug. 17 but chose to reduce it to 80 this week.
"Long story short, I think it was best for us to be able to evaluate everybody as a whole as they go through the progression," Judge said. "Ultimately, I wished we could have gone with 90 the entire way through like a traditional camp. That's not the rules in place right now. (Having 90 players) presents some logistical issues for you, both facilities wise, how you can map out coordinating different players working with each other. We wanted to make sure we gave everyone a chance to get out there on the field and really take a look at them at work. After a duration of time we felt it was in the team's best interest to move to 80."
*Defensive tackle Leonard Williams (hamstring) was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list soon after arriving at camp.
"I am going to give him the opportunity day by day," Judge said. "He's working with our trainers, he is doing everything he possibly can to get on the field as fast as possible. We know he is doing all the right things. I'm not a doctor, when they tell me he is cleared to go, we'll go ahead and (put him on the field)."
*The Giants had several veteran kickers to choose from after releasing Aldrick Rosas last week and chose Chandler Catanzaro, who didn't play last season after announcing a retirement that lasted less than a year.
"He is in here to compete for a job like everybody else," Judge said. "I have some experience in the league with Chandler, I have gone against him. It's a small league, there are 32 kickers per week on rosters, you know who is out there. He has had some very good seasons, he's had some very good seasons in this (MetLife) stadium. Chandler is someone who I have known about for a long time going back to when he came out of Clemson. We're excited to have him here. He has an opportunity to go on the field and demonstrate what he is capable of doing.
"In terms of retirement, that was something that once he decided he wanted to make a comeback, we were notified he was off the retirement list. He was somebody we had talked about and we thought he was a good fit to get going."
View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.