Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: We've shifted our preparation today into Tampa. Obviously, this team is an explosive team really in all three phases of the ball that you have to account for. I think Coach (Bruce) Arians has done a phenomenal job of really bringing in a staff with a lot of continuity, guys that have played for him, guys that have worked for him in the past. It was easy for him to get a quick jump in this program. He's added a lot of dynamic players since he's been there, and he's really gotten these guys rolling this year.
Bruce's aggressive mentality, you can see it on all three sides of the ball. It starts on offense, obviously. They're running the ball extremely well with (Ronald) Jones. They're doing a great job with the play action pass and setting up the shots with Tom (Brady), and they're doing a great job in all the situational football. Red zone, third down, they're really a team you have to prepare situationally for.
Defensively, Coach (Todd) Bowles does a phenomenal job of really spinning the dial on you. You're going to see a lot of pressure, early down and third down. You're going to see a lot of situational calls in the red area, third down and two-minute. But the thing these guys do is they play disciplined and they play really, really hard. That's got to be definitely a trademark of Coach Bowles' defense, and we have to make sure we can handle the movement and the pressures up front. It all starts with that.
Special teams wise, Keith Armstrong is a guy I've known for some years. I have a lot of respect for him. Keith does a really good job of taking the players he has, creating matchups on your players. Then he does a good job getting his guys to play hard and physical, and that's really his trademark right there. All three sides of the ball, we have our work cut out for us. We'll start today on preparation and that will build into Monday night. With that point, I'll open it up to any questions you guys may have.
Q: Can you just kind of give us a timeline of everything that's gone on with the COVID situation? When you find out about Will's (Hernandez) positive test and the close contacts and everything the last 12 hours or so?
A: What time is it now, about noon? Yeah, about 13 hours ago. About 13 hours ago, I was notified there were some issues, maybe a little bit longer than that ago. We got the list of names of the players, we made adjustments, we had a couple of coaches involved. We've been fortunate in that there's really no high-risk guys within the tracer contacts. We have some precautions we have to take as a team. We're optimistic to get all these guys back. We're operating that we're going to have them back right now. In terms of what we're going to do and adjust as a team, I'm going to change the post-practice meetings to meet virtually. We've made some adjustments on the field to incorporate some face shields and some masks during practice, which has not been required before now. But we're going to make sure our players are wearing the masks during the actual activity. That will be different for our guys right there. But we'll meet post-practice virtually. I'll determine as the head coach how we're going to approach tomorrow's morning and afternoon meetings. But we're going to plan on practicing in person tomorrow regardless. I'll make that decision later on today and I'll talk to the team about it.
Q: Then just as far as Will Hernandez, how is he feeling? Does he have symptoms or anything?
A: I haven't spoken to him yet. Ronnie (Barnes) has been in contact with him, so I couldn't answer that question.
Q: Has your message to the guys changed in any way just in terms of the danger, the contagious nature of this virus and what we're fighting here, not only as a football team but as a nation, as the world?
A: No, the message has remained constant. We just need to remind each other constantly. Look, it's all about being safe. It's all about making sure we put ourselves in the right situations. It's about the social distancing in the building, the protocols with the masks and PPEs. We just need to go ahead and stay consistent with that throughout the season and make sure we put ourselves in the best position possible. I think it starts with our facilities. Ronnie (Barnes) and the facilities director (Victor McLoughlin) have done a great job of setting up where we have them meet. We've transformed our indoor facility into really our meeting space for this year. That's really allowed us to remain spaced out in more of an open-air situation to help with the players and ventilation in terms of having the protocols set up to make sure we're spaced out in meetings and to be able to still have in-person meetings. That's really been something that we've benefited from and it's helped us along the way.
Q: You alluded to it in your opening, but given the Bucs get after the passer in terms of sacks second only to the Steelers in this league, how much of a concern would it be if your offensive line is compromised at all? My follow up would be you mentioned having all the guys back. Does that include Will Hernandez?
A: I can just tell everyone on the call, obviously, the word is out on a lot of things that are going on. We've been told internally that we can't comment on specific names until they come out later on today, which everything will be on the injury report. In terms of the main name you're referring to, I'll have to wait and see how the testing goes these next couple days. But I'd say the optimism on all the players who are only related through tracers is very high right now. Their amount of exposure to this was really on the minimum level to be registered in this category, so that kind of eliminates them from being high-risk guys. That's been good. Most of it came from passing, sitting near each other in team meetings, things of that nature. But it's been a low amount of time. It's kept us away from some of the high-risk stuff. We're very optimistic right now we're going to have our players back. Obviously, it's our job to make contingency plans. But getting on to the Bucs, their front is very dangerous. They're very explosive, they have a lot of talent. Todd does a great job with creating combinations. Ideally, you want to have all of your guys back. But it's our job to prepare everyone available and it's their job to be ready.
Q: What's the concern level at this point that the game might not be able to be played on Monday night?
A: Yeah, we have none right now. We're expecting to play Monday night and that's our mindset.
Q: With the two assistants out for today, I know you've been using guys who aren't necessarily on the coaching staff to help out. Do you have a couple names that you know are just going to step right in and coach those position groups, or is that not even necessary for a practice?
A: Everyone will coach today who's actually a member of our coaching staff. We've talked before about those contingency plans of all throughout the building, people went through spring and training camp with us, learning different positions in case it were to come up, some kind of a mass lockout or some kind of major numbers concern. We don't have that today. The guys who are going to coach are guys that are on that side of the ball to step up and just help out. We've already crossed over a lot of coaching throughout the season through different drills and periods and how we meet. It's not a drastic change for us today.
Q: As far as the contact tracing devices you guys wear, are players and staff required to wear those outside of the building? Did Will Hernandez come in contact with anybody who might have been out and about the other night at dinner in Manhattan?
A: I don't believe so on that right there. As a far as contact with tracers outside the building, we're required to wear them throughout the entire work day. That's at practice, in the meetings, in the cafeteria, in the locker room. You always have it on at all times. Some guys wear it in a lanyard, I keep mine in my pocket at all times. You always have to have it on you.
Q: As much as you have prepared for a situation like this, obviously calls start going out last night. When you're meeting with the team this morning, which I assume you have already but maybe it's been virtual contact. How do you approach it with the rest of the team? Is it just business as usual? I have to imagine guys are kind of antennas up. This is really the first time you guys have had to deal with this really since the beginning of training camp.
A: There's always some kind of adversity we're going to have to deal with. To us, this is just a sudden change. We just keep on moving forward. We emphasize working on what we can really accomplish as a team. We get everyone ready who may part of the game plan.
Q: I know there is limited things you can say about the names of the players. Obviously, we know that's it's Will Hernandez and the likelihood of him playing on Monday night just based on the protocols is small. Assuming any of that is true, is Shane Lemieux the next guy up for you at guard? How ready is he if he is asked to have a bigger role?
A: Shane has been doing a good job really improving for us throughout the season. He's done a really good job in practice. We were planning on really working him in throughout the games anyway, to be honest with you, in terms of just like we kind of worked Matt Peart into games as well. We have confidence in Shane. He'll be in the mix with different guys that may factor into that position. We'll see where it goes by the end of the week and where everything leads going into Monday. We have confidence in Shane, I would expect him to play regardless of what the scenario is.
Q: I know he's on the other side of the country, but does any of this affect Saquon and his scheduled surgery this week?
A: Not that I'm aware of right there. Obviously, Ronnie (Barnes) is going to make sure we're in contact with different guys but not that I'm aware of.
Q: Marc Colombo yesterday was talking about Shane Lemieux. He said that when he started out, he was maybe a little over aggressive because he was out there trying to fight everybody. He said he's gotten a lot better with that and his technique and stuff. Have you noticed the same things and his mindset that he just wants to go out there and hit somebody?
A: Shane is definitely an aggressive player. He's definitely got that bruiser mentality to it. He's settling in a lot technically. He's shown a lot of improvement throughout the year. We liked him from the jump. He's definitely a guy that wants to get after it, wants to play physical, wants to play aggressive. He's really made good adjustments to a lot of the movement schemes and also the speed of the game of how it comes to it. His communication inside has really improved throughout the year. With the centers and guards inside, that's definitely a critical piece for everything they are going to do, because the multiples they'll see inside. He's really shown a lot of growth for us.
Q: With regards to the number of close games you guys have had and obviously you haven't finished on the positive side of those. Is it a double-edged sword there? Do you feel like the more you're involved in those, the guys will get a little more experience and get over the top? Has it become a confidence issue when you are in those close games and a 'here we go again' element to it?
A: I think our job is to play every game as its own entity. Every game is a different circumstance, different situation. We play every game to win every game. There's things we have to clean up and correct. We have to do a better job coaching, have to do a better job executing as players in situations. To me, the guys have responded every week. In terms of the confidence issue, it's been a question guys have answered repeatedly. That's not an issue with our guys. Our guys come to work every week, they see improvement. We show them marked improvement on the tape when they see themselves play, when they see the units perform. We just have to keep stringing together and improving as a team. Get the results we're working looking for.
Q: When you do get over the hump in one of these close tight games, whether it's the last play of the game or whatever, what can that do for the morale and the confidence, the psyche of the team? Maybe start a trend in the other way?
A: I'm going to be honest with you, I'm not a huge believer in that to begin with. In terms of does one game affect another game, I don't really think so. I think you have to show up and whether you won last week or lost last week, it's about what you do preparing this week and how you execute on the field for 60 minutes. That's going to dictate the results of that game. I respect the question, I understand exactly where you're coming from. My personal mindset and philosophy doesn't really tie too much into how one game affects another one.
Q: You mentioned earlier in the call some of these changes you're making to practice in terms of guys wearing masks and then also going all virtual with your meetings. Will those be permanent changes for the rest of the year or until this thing clears up here?
A: Definitely through this thing clears up. We'll see how it works out with the team. We'll see what the league protocols mandate us to do. We just want to make sure we make the best decisions for the players at all times. We've been pretty good up to this point. Been fortunate to avoid one of these tests. We're a long way into the season at this point. We want to make sure we get through this patch, keep our players safe. When we feel we're out of this patch with the league's guidance and our medical team's guidance, we'll make the best decision for the team.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: This is the first time we've gotten to talk to you since the video came out. Can you just take us through that evening? Do you think you violated any COVID protocols? Did you put yourselves or teammates or anyone in any kind of jeopardy? Do you regret what happened?
A: I certainly respect the question and acknowledge the importance of it. But Coach (Judge) spoke about it the other day. We have a way of handling those things. We're going to handle it internally here. Our focus is on the Bucs this week and being prepared to play Monday night.
Q: Was anything that came out of that misrepresented or something you would like to clear up so people know whether you were in the wrong or not?
A: Coach commented on it. There is some information, but like I said, we're going to handle it internally and prepare for the Bucs this week.
Q: Two-parter. Do you expect to be disciplined for anything that happened Friday night or have you been disciplined?
A: Like I said, we're going to handle it here as a team. I've talked to Coach. I've certainly talked to Coach and dealt with it here inside. That's our policy there. I don't have much to add on there.
Q: Do you regret not wearing a mask? You were inside at a bar, which whatever, but you were not wearing a mask inside and drinking in that. Do you regret that part of it?
A: Yeah, I had PPE and certainly need to make sure I'm wearing it. But like I said, we're not going to comment anymore on it. Coach has certainly addressed it.
Q: I just have a question about the close games you guys have been involved in, most of which you have not come out on top. I'm just wondering how you view that, whether it's a positive that you guys have been in every one of these games until the end, or negative that you have not been able to come over the top and win these things? Just as a follow, what would winning one of these things, I know you did against Washington, but what would winning one of these things do in terms of the confidence level of this team as it moves forward?
A: I think it would certainly do a lot for us. When you look at a lot of these games this year, like you said, we've been close. It's come down to a couple plays or a possession there at the end. When you look at it, you have to look at the entire game. I think you can see a lot of positives, a lot of things we've done well. Like you said, we have to find a way to finish. I think you can take good from it, you can certainly take a lot of positives from it and learn from what's led to us ultimately not getting the results that we've hoped for. I don't think it's black and white. There are positives to take from it and we have to build off those. We certainly have to correct the things that have kept us from winning those close games.
Q: When you look at this Tampa Bay defense, they're pretty stout across the board. But I'm just wondering how susceptible do you think they are to the deep pass? They're very aggressive and I'm sure there are ways to exploit that. But do you see a lot of susceptibility to get the ball down the field against this defense?
A: Like you said, they're a good group. They have a lot of good players across the board. Their scheme and what they're doing from a strategy perspective or a scheme perspective is good, too. But we'll be prepared for it. Yeah, that's part of any plan for us each week is to push the ball down the field and take shots when they're there. We'll be prepared and ready to go on Monday night.
Q: Not necessarily related to the COVID stuff, but when you're missing a regular starting offensive lineman for whatever the reason, how much does that affect what you do? The communication, the feel?
A: Missing anyone causes you to adjust a little bit and prepare for it. But I'm confident that we'll have guys step up and play well. They'll be prepared going into the game. I think that's the case when anyone goes down. We've dealt with that this year at times at other positions, so we'll be ready for it and we'll be ready to go.
Q: I have two questions. The first is about Golden Tate. You hit him for the touchdown the other day. He's a guy that makes a lot of contested catches, kind of like the one he made there against the Eagles. Does that sort of redefine for a quarterback how you see somebody getting open? He might not necessarily have the separation, but you can still throw him the ball there? Do you have to get him the ball more? There hasn't been a lot of opportunities for him the last few weeks.
A: Golden is a big part of our offense. He's, like you said, someone who catches the ball in traffic really well and can go up and make those plays for us. We'll continue to try to get him the ball depending on how the defense is playing him and what they're doing from a defensive perspective and how that dictates the reads and where the ball goes. But we'll continue to use him as a big part of our offense. I certainly have a lot of confidence in him catching the ball. Like you said, he's a great contested catcher, he's a great guy in traffic catching the ball and making a play.
Q: My second question was sometimes with young teams when they go up against a team, I guess a Tom Brady team, there's a tendency to sort of be a little awed and be a little intimidated by that. Maybe your team was like that last year, I don't know. But this year with so many people in the building who are so close to him and know him and have such intimate knowledge of him, does that help to take that away a little bit?
A: We'll certainly be prepared. He's a great player. Obviously, he's accomplished a great deal in this league and has had a tremendous amount of success. At the same time, we're preparing for the Tampa Bay Bucs. We have to play a good defense. On offense, we're preparing for that and we'll be ready to go. Obviously, a ton of respect for him and who he is as a player. But we have to prepare to play a Tampa Bay Bucs team that has a lot of good players on offense and defense.
Q: What's it like when you're out there in the rain and you're looking at the group in front of you and basically you've got one starter? What's your level of concern about, probably Will (Hernandez) won't come back, but getting the other guys back?
A: We have to be prepared regardless of the circumstance. It's tough to predict what's going to happen. But as players and certainly in my position, all you can do is take advantage of the time you have and attack the opportunity or the challenge and get the most out of it. I thought guys did a good job today at practice doing that and brought a lot of energy. I thought we were able to get a lot done.
Q: If the other guys don't come back, are you thinking of opting out?
A: No, we'll be ready to play Monday night
Q: Last year when you guys played up in New England, you and Tom had a moment after the game. I'm just curious if you could share kind of what you talked about or what he said to you, just in terms of that experience, if there's anything that you've carried with you off of your rookie year coming into this year?
A: Yeah, I spoke to Tom just for kind of a brief moment after the game last year. Really just wished each other luck going forward. Not a whole lot really from that conversation. But like I said, I have a ton of respect for him, watching him growing up and all the success he's had in this league. I look forward to getting out there Monday night.
Q: Just as a quick follow up, looking forward to Tampa Bay, this was obviously the team that you played in your first game. Any of your notes or the work you did last year carry over to preparation for this year as you prepare to see that defense again?
A: There are some similarities in terms of personnel, and obviously, the coordinator is the same. We've gone back and watched that game. I think we can take certain things from it here and there. But they are a different defense. They're calling it a little bit different and doing a couple different things. We'll have to prepare for that. But yeah, I think last year's tape and some of the notes from last year are definitely helpful going in.
Defensive Back Logan Ryan
Q: You weren't obviously a part of the spring, so I don't know if you have had any virtual meetings yet today. If you have, what has it been like? If not, how much do you think that will change the game preparation?
A: So far everything has been normal. Practiced out there on the field, meeting as normal. How we have to adjust is just what the NFL protocols will be. I wasn't here in the spring, but I am familiar with the zoom app, I am a millennial. I'll turn it on and make sure my kids aren't doing backflips. I'll have to mute myself a little bit. I'll be super locked in. It's important, it's a big game. It's Tom Brady and the crew coming to town. I'll definitely be in the meetings, prepared and ready to go.
Q: Was it odd practicing with a mask on?
A: As comfortable as you would think. Not too comfortable, but this is 2020. A lot of things we have to adjust for, a lot of curveballs. I'm not complaining, got the best job in the world. I got used to it petty quickly.
Q: What's it been like kind of navigating through the circumstances you guys are in? You guys only had four offensive linemen practicing today. Just having to deal with all the protocols and all that stuff? What's the scene been like for you? As a veteran in the league, it's obviously different than anyone has ever experienced before.
A: It's a year I'm going to remember, for sure. Everybody is going to remember this. Everyone has to adjust in every walk of life. That comes to NFL players, that comes to NFL practice. That's definitely been an adjustment with a lot of things. You know you have to take it for what it is. This is what we signed up for. I didn't opt out, I signed up to play. I knew there was going to be some curveballs in there. I think that Joe has been extremely flexible. I think the Giants have done a great job handling everything the best they can. We just have to go with what the NFL protocol is. Whatever they tell us is what we have to do, is what we've done. We're not the first team to go through this, we won't be the last. We just have to handle it the best we can, which I feel like we have. It's definitely going to be a year I remember.
Q: What's Xavier McKinney been like behind the scenes? He's a rookie and he's injured but the coaches are talking about how they're trying to make him be an active part of the meetings and stuff. As someone in that room, what's been your impression of him?
A: X is doing a great job, he's working hard. (He's) here every day, attending every meeting, listening, learning. I haven't got to see him play yet obviously, I came here after his injury. He's asked me a lot of intelligent questions. He seems like a smart player. I'm excited to help him the best I can when he's ready to go. He's doing everything you can ask him to do at this point. Like I said, he's locked in tune to every single meeting. He was out there today in the pouring rain standing around getting wet, so he's definitely committed.
Q: Nobody knows Tom Brady better than you on the field. What do you see when you look at him on film this year? To follow up a little bit, you were the last guy to pick him off up in New England. Did you kind of reach out to him in the offseason, kind of give it to him a little bit?
A: To answer the first question, what I see in Tom Brady is Tom Brady. Like fine wine, he keeps getting better. Twenty years of experience, arguably, I think the best player to play the game, the best quarterback. He does everything he can to figure out the defense. He's a great point guard in this league where he just distributes the ball to his playmakers. He has everyone playing well for him. They have a guy Scotty Miller, number 10, who's running past everybody. Mike Evans, Godwin, Gronk is back to old Gronk form. He brings the best out of his teammates. He is one of the greatest teammates I ever had. He makes everyone around him better and that's what I see in Tampa. The same old Tom Brady to me and that's excellence. Definitely the interception was a big play in my career, a big play in both our careers. He reached out to me afterwards. I had dropped one earlier in the game and he said why can't you drop them both? I said even though I like you, I can't drop them both. We have much respect for each other. To me, he's the ultimate test as a player. He's like the final boss in Mario or whatever game you might play when you're on the last level and they have hammers and cannonballs and everything going off in the game. He presents every threat to you possible. You have to stay super locked in. As a competitor, I feel like he brings the best out in me because I know I have to be my best in order to compete with him. I love playing against him because it's the greatest challenge in football, definitely mentally, and physically, as well.
Q: You're a guy that digs in all the time. You're looking for any little tendency or tip that you can get. I know it's a different offense that he's now running than the one you studied for last year and the one you played against in practice for years. When you go up against the quarterback, how much is it the offense and how much is it the tendency of the quarterback? Can you go into this game kind of giving your teammates tips about what Brady likes, what he doesn't like? Is it strictly based on the Tampa offense?
A: I think I have to give my teammates the best of what we can control. I can't control what they decide to run, but we can control what we decide to show him. Try our best to disguise and make things hard on him. You don't out-trick Tom Brady. He's made a 20 career and a lot of money of not being tricked. At the same time, we have to line up and execute well. I think the biggest thing to Tom Brady and the biggest thing I can tell guys is that it's his guys. It's the guys around Tom Brady that he knows how to utilize. We have to understand Mike Evans, we have to understand Gronkowski. We have to understand Scotty Miller, we have to understand Cameron Brate. We have to understand Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy. You go down the list, I can name the whole roster. We have to understand how he uses those guys because he uses all his players to his strengths. As much as this is about Tom Brady and Logan Ryan and all that stuff, it's lot about his guys and how he's going to use his guys and their weapons. He's going to make his players do what they do best. He's going to give them the ball in their best ways. We have to find a way what their best ways are and give them some trouble in order to get to Tom Brady as well. I think it's about his weapons and me in the back end as a safety, it's about my weapons, too. Try to line it up so we kind of attack him that way.
Q: Regarding the close games you guys have been involved in which obviously you have not come out on top in. What has that done to your confidence as a team? How much would winning of those things have you guys go the other way once you get over the top there?
A: We won one against Washington. We're up in our division games in all fourth quarters. We lost two, we won one. It makes me go back out there. The L.A. Rams, the Chicago Bears, the great Pittsburgh Steelers, we played with all those teams. To me, it shows me that as a team as we're trying to get better, we're competing every week. These guys aren't outclassing us, they're not on a different level of talent, they're not something that we can't compete. I'm telling these guys, 'look, we've played with some of the top teams in this league. This quarterback that we face is one of the top quarterbacks in this league, and Tampa Bay is one of the top teams in this league. We're going to go out there and compete with them like we did.' Six minutes left in the fourth quarter and we have to decide to put us back out there and see what happens. That's the only way you can learn from these instances is to be in them. We've been in them enough, we had chances and opportunities to win maybe four or five of the games this year and we didn't. At the same time, all you can do is learn from those experiences. I can't say to these guys, 'oh, we have no shot, we're going to lose by 50' because we haven't done that this year. We haven't done that.
Q: With regard to James Bradberry, did you know him much prior to getting here? What have you made out of the season he's had so far?
A: I told you guys the first day I signed, I obviously know a lot of players in the league. I didn't know James personally, but I knew of James and I knew he was a really good player and I really liked his technique at the line of scrimmage. He has patience and he has length. He's got this calmness and this poise about him that I've seen in some other guys that are elite corners in this league and he's one of a kind. I said he made a living and made a lot of money covering number one receivers in the NFC South, which is the hardest division to be a number one corner in. in my opinion. With the Mike Evans' of the world and the Michael Thomas' of the world, and Julio Jones. Those aren't three slouches there. He covered them twice a year and he looked pretty well against them. I believed in James Bradberry before I ever met him. When I play with him, I am his biggest believer, I'm his biggest fan. I'm hyping him up. I think he is the best corner in the league and I'm going to tell him that every day. I think he is playing like it.
Q: What do you see from Gronk and are you not surprised or surprised that he came out of retirement?
A: I see Gronk as Gronk. He's catching touchdowns, he's having fun. That's Gronk, he's an elite tight end. He has a great rapport with Brady. What I see is what I've always seen, it's what I'm used to seeing, is greatness. Guys have to be willing to take the challenge of him and Tom. Coming out of retirement, I was shocked like everybody else. I had no idea. (He was) making a lot of money, doing well. People love to see Gronk. He went in there and went to WrestleMania and he went to go back with Brady. That's a pretty cool career he's got. That's Gronk, there's only one Gronk. I'm excited to compete against him and excited to go against those guys.
View rare photos from the all-time series between the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.