Three-time SB Champion Devin McCourty believes Joe Judge is 'made to have success in New York'
At 38 years old, Joe Judge has enjoyed a lot of success already in his young coaching career. After winning two BCS National Championships in three seasons at Alabama, Judge joined Bill Belichick's staff in New England, where he would go on to win three Super Bowl titles from 2012-2019.
When Judge first joined the Patriots as a special teams assistant, Devin McCourty was entering his third season in the NFL. The safety had already been named to a Pro Bowl and selected as a First-Team All-Pro, but up to that point, he was only being used on defense. Right before the start of the 2012 season, McCourty was named the starting kick returner, which lead to him spending a lot of time with Judge.
McCourty returned 27 kickoffs for 654 yards (24.2 yards per return) and a touchdown that season. While it was the only year he would serve as the team's primary kick returner, the veteran still spent plenty of time on special teams during Judge's stint with the Patriots. From 2013-2019, McCourty played at least 110 special teams snaps each season, and was on the field for over 30 percent of the special teams snaps in six of the seven campaigns.
The three-time Super Bowl champion joined MSG's 150 At Home to discuss several topics, including his thoughts on Judge taking over as head coach of the New York Giants.
"He's straight to the point," McCourty said. "He's a guy that's from Philadelphia originally. He's made for that area. You talk about that New York, Philly, being up here in Boston, sports are huge and the criticism is huge. But Joe's a guy, to me, for the six to eight years I've been around him, he's meant for that. He has no problem challenging people. But he also has no problem motivating and being, not really friends per se as a coach, but having that strong bond and relationship with guys.
"I've talked to Nate Solder and different guys at events we had earlier this offseason, because whenever players get together, it's like 'Hey, tell me about this guy Judge. Is he good?' I've had conversations with guys, and even as they had some early contact with him, I think guys are excited to have him. I think he'll do an awesome job in New York. He has a lot of guys that I was coached by at one point in time and I have relationships with them and know what they're about. I wish them the best luck, other than when they have to play us in different years. I think Joe Judge is a guy made to have success in New York."
Carter Coughlin applauded by Pro Football Focus
Giants seventh-round pick Carter Coughlin put together a strong four-year career at the University of Minnesota. After playing in 11 games as a true freshman and finishing with 24 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks, the linebacker stepped into the starting lineup during his sophomore season. In 12 games in 2017, Coughlin registered 37 tackles (29 solo), 6.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble and was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. However, it was his performance in 2018 that garnered him some serious praise.
Coughlin played in 13 games as a junior and recorded 48 tackles (34 solo), 9.5 sacks, 15.0 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. He earned a selection as Second-Team All-Big Ten after leading the Gophers in sacks, but Coughlin's 2018 performance goes beyond what the stat sheet shows.
Coughlin earned a 92.2 pass-rush grade from Pro Football Focus that season. According to PFF, that is the third-highest pass-rush grade among all Big Ten EDGE defenders since 2014. The only two players to finish with a higher grade than Coughlin were 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young (96.5), who had 16.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles last season, and 2019 NFL Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa (92.2).
Finishing right below Coughlin was 2016 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year winner Joey Bosa (92.1).
The Minnesota-native would go on to have another strong season as a senior, registering 49 tackles (29 solo), 4.5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and four passes defended. He was once again named Second-Team All-Big Ten.
View photos of former Minnesota LB Carter Coughlin.
Judge encouraged by team's effort in virtual offseason program
Joe Judge has had far from a typical offseason for a first-year head coach. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, along with all NFL team headquarters, have been closed since mid-March. Judge and his entire coaching staff have had to install the team's new offense and defense remotely while not being able to see his players actually step onto a field. However, he is confident that the team has built a strong foundation that they can build upon once training camp kicks off towards the end of July.
"I'm very encouraged with the way our players worked this spring," Judge said in an interview with Bob Papa. "I'm very encouraged with how the staff was able to adjust on the fly and really adapt to the circumstances. Our focus wasn't on what we were missing. Our focus was on what we had available to us to use. We really put the focus on accomplishing everything we would in a normal spring without being able to go on the field together. I'd say as we left, I believe we accomplished that. We got our systems installed. We were able to build on the offense, defense and special teams. We got a lot of team-building accomplished as well. We were able to build in some competitive aspects of our program. That's all been very positive.
"I'd say the biggest challenge that we went in really wondering how we were going to get accomplished was the team-building aspect of it. I think our players, being as resourceful as they are, and the coaches, we were able to really break down a lot of the virtual walls that we felt were between us at first. We were able to adjust on the fly and really get a good feel for each other. But I'll tell you what, going into training camp, we're not going to have strangers walking through the hallway. We know each other as coaches and players. We know each other as a team, so when we get together at training camp, we can focus on getting the football moving and we're not trying to make introductions as far as being a new rookie or a new free agent or a new coach to the staff. We can move forward."
Judge explained some of the broad goals he wanted the team to accomplish during his introductory press conference back in January. He discussed wanting the team to properly represent the tough, resilient New York/New Jersey area, both on and off the field. Talking to Papa earlier this week, Judge said those goals remain the same.
"We want to be a smart, tough, fundamentally sound football team," the head coach said. "I've been saying that and you're going to hear me say that for a long time. Those are collective criteria. At the same time, we have to be a tough team. You talk about tying us to the region. There's physical toughness and there's mental toughness. I think this area has demonstrated that continuously throughout time, but specifically in the immediate months that we've just gone through. There's been a lot of physical toughness going through the COVID. There's been a lot of mental toughness going through the societal issues we're dealing with right now, as well as a lot of the COVID with people being out of work, going day by day. We have to be a team that reflects that same work ethic and resilience when we get on the field. What I'm expecting from our team when we get back is to show up every day and to work hard and make decisions that affect the team in a positive way."