Dave Gettleman, Chris Pettit discuss upcoming season
The regular season opener is exactly two weeks from today, as the Giants will welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to MetLife Stadium on September 14th for a Monday night showdown.
It's been a tough offseason for everyone around the NFL, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused the entire league to alter its plans. Despite the unusual circumstances, coach Joe Judge has prepared his young team for the start of the season.
General manager Dave Gettleman spoke to NBC's Bruce Beck during Friday night's Blue-White Scrimmage and offered some encouraging words about the first-time head coach.
"It's obviously been a very hard time, the spring and this training camp as well," Gettleman said. "Joe is a great communicator to begin with. He's really in-tune with these guys and what's going on. He's done a really terrific job of connecting with them despite all of the obstacles."
One of Gettleman's biggest moves of the offseason was the placement of the unrestricted free agent tender on outside linebacker Markus Golden. Golden led the team with 10.0 sacks in 2019.
The move led to Golden re-signing with the Giants towards the start of training camp, adding him to a talented group consisting of free-agent acquisition Kyler Fackrell, young edge rushers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, and 2020 draft choices Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin.
With Golden back in the fold, Gettleman feels good about the pass rush heading into the regular season.
"Lorenzo's getting better, X-Man's getting better, Dexter Lawrence is getting better. They're all improving," Gettleman told Beck. "A pass rush is really a group effort. With Markus added, we're confident."
Another area of the roster that the front office addressed during the offseason was the offensive line.
Gettleman added several intriguing pieces to the o-line room, but none more promising than No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas. The former Georgia Bulldog enjoyed an incredibly successful career in his three seasons playing in the SEC, and director of college scouting Chris Pettit has liked what he has seen out of the rookie tackle so far.
"That's what Andrew is all about, is facing challenges head on," Pettit told Beck. "He's a competitive guy, played at the highest level in college in the SEC, went up against the best week after week. Coming into here, he starts right off this season going against some of the best rush ends in the league. Andrew's done a great job. He's come in, competed every day, he came in shape. He's ready to rock."
When asked about what he would say to Giants fans heading into the 2020 season, Gettleman's message was clear and simple.
"We're putting a very competitive NFL team on the field," the general manager said. "You're going to be assured of that. Joe and his coaching staff are going to get every ounce out of this group. Better days are head."
Notebook: Judge analyzes scrimmage; 14 days left
Joe Judge was pleased with his team's performance in its Friday night scrimmage and with its progress in training camp, but with 14 days remaining before the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has numerous unsettled issues to address. One of them strikes at the core of his team's readiness to compete.
"Our number one focus right now is we have to improve our football conditioning," Judge told reporters today on a post-practice Zoom call. "To be honest with you, our guys have practiced extremely hard. They've done everything we've asked them to. The reality is, there just hasn't been an opportunity to build into a full game's length of conditioning, so we have to find ways to supplement our team to allow them to really build into that four-hour window that they're going to have when they play their first game on the 14th. That's the number one note we really have as coaches."
In the scrimmage, the blue (offensive) team defeated the white (defensive) team, 23-22. The notable performers included running back Wayne Gallman, who scampered for a 43-yard touchdown, and linebacker Lorenzo Carter, who unofficially had four sacks.
"I was pleased with the effort," Judge said. "For the young guys, it was really their first experience of being on that game field moving around at a high tempo. I would say the simulation of the in-game adjustments, the crowd noise, the officiating, everything that goes with the game, definitely gave a different feel than we create at practice. I thought our guys really embraced that. You could tell there was a good energy and juice in the locker room throughout it. It felt like a game. You can tell for the young guys, their first time being out on the field, there were a couple of things they have to clean up in terms of embracing the job and execution and kind of getting out of the moment and the excitement. But that's natural for any first game right there, even though it was a simulated one."
The offense certainly would have preferred to score more points, but Judge saw much that he liked.
"I thought they did a good job of stringing some drives together," Judge said. "Like I said the other night, there's a lot of restrictions we put on the team in how we had to play the game and the tempo of the half. That eliminates a lot of what you can do on both sides of the ball. We understood that going in as a coaching staff. We knew what we were looking for specifically from the units, along with certain players, so no, I came out very encouraged."
Watch the Blue-White TV Scrimmage Special
With no preseason games this year, Joe Judge and the rest of the coaching staff have had to find ways to prepare the team for the start of the regular season. In order to get as close to a game situation as possible, the Giants held a Blue-White scrimmage at MetLife Stadium Friday night.
Check out the Giants Blue-White TV Scrimmage Special below for highlights, exclusive interviews, and Coach Judge mic'd up during the intrasquad scrimmage.