INDIANAPOLIS – Joe Judge will not publicly smudge his clean canvas.
Since he was hired as the Giants' head coach on January 8, Judge has refrained from commenting on any of the players he inherited, most notably quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. At his news conference at the NFL Combine, Judge was queried about his evaluation of Jones and other players. His response was an explanation as to why he is not willing to reveal that.
"I'll be very upfront with everyone right now in terms of how I'm going to deal with analyzing specific players," Judge said. "I want you to understand this because it's important to me. Every one of our players is going to come here with a blank slate and be able to compete from the ground up from day one. I'm not going to establish any kind of status or hierarchy within the individual players or position groups by spending a month talking about individuals. That's important to me, and I want you guys to understand my reason for that. I can't tell everyone that they have an equal slate and they show up on April (6) and I've spent a month talking about a specific player. Everyone is going to have the same opportunity on a daily basis to compete. So, I respect the question about the individuals.
"Trust me, we've analyzed everyone top to bottom, inside out. We've talked about it. Coaches, scouts, personnel, player development, team security. We're getting to know everything we can possibly know about who we have on our roster, as well as everyone we're looking to bring in and join our roster as well. But my reason for not going into individual players at this point is it's important that our players understand, the only thing that's going to be relevant is how they perform from day one moving forward. That the past is irrelevant."
Judge was asked a follow-up question about constructing an offense based on the quarterback's strengths.
"We have to build around everyone's skillset," he said. "Yeah, you're right that every position has to add to what you do schematically. But every position is going to be competition every day. Every position."
General manager Dave Gettleman, who selected Jones sixth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, has been an enthusiastic supporter of Jones. When he spoke to the media two days after the season ended, Gettleman said, "Daniel had a terrific year, came on, did some great things and we have seen great things for him in the future."
Given that the Giants have a new head coach, new offensive coordinator (Jason Garrett) and Jones will be working in a different scheme, Gettleman – who attended Judge's news conference - was asked today, "where do you stand on that?"
"Nothing's going to change," Gettleman said. "Really and truly, I'll address that question, offense is offense, right? Somebody snaps it, somebody catches it, and then you either run it or throw it. Defense, there's a little more nuance in different systems. Because we had moved to a base-five on the line system, it's really not going to change a bunch on defense. But no, we'll be fine."
Asked if he considers Jones a "franchise quarterback," Gettleman said, "I view Daniel Jones is going into his second year and learning how to be an NFL quarterback."
Jones became the Giants' starting quarterback three games into his rookie season. Although he missed two games with a sprained ankle, Jones set franchise rookie records with 459 passes, 284 completions, 3,017 yards and 24 touchdown passes. On the debit side, he committed 23 turnovers (12 interceptions, 11 lost fumbles).
As he spoke, behind Judge – and all six podiums in the media center – was a multi-colored Combine backdrop. It came in handy when Judge was questioned whether Jones will be the team's first quarterback when practice begins.
"Our depth chart is on that board right there right now," he said, pointing to the canvas. "No one has a spot."
Not even the sixth overall selection in the most recent draft? Free agency begins in less than a month. Gettleman was asked if he "plans to maneuver" the draft and free agency with Jones as the team's starter. That answer is clearly yes.
"Let me ask you this question," Gettleman said. "Who is the guy who took the last snap in the last game? Ok? So, I've answered the question."
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