EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – NFL head coaches and their quarterbacks are always joined at the hip, because they depend so much on each other for the team's success.
Throughout their long history, the Giants have benefitted from many such collaborations, among them Jim Lee Howell and Charlie Conerly, Allie Sherman and Y.A. Tittle, Bill Parcells and Phil Simms and, most recently, Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning, who were together for 195 regular-season and postseason games, including two Super Bowl victories.
On Monday night, the youngest and newest of those tandems will make their shared debut when first-year coach Joe Judge, 38, and second-year quarterback Daniel Jones, 23, lead the Giants into their 2020 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers in MetLife Stadium.
When he speaks with reporters, Judge prefers not to dwell on individuals and prefaced the following with, "I try to have special relationships with all the players." But it's clear the bond he shares with Jones will be particularly significant.
"The quarterback and the head coach have to be able to talk," Judge said today. "Him being one of our captains obviously puts him in a position that we're going to have a lot of conversations. Not all involving football but involving all aspects of the team. That should open the platform to him and myself to talk a lot throughout the weeks. You have to have a good relationship with all your players that are signal callers especially. You have to trust them, and they have to trust you.
"When it comes to the signal callers, and I'm talking about the quarterback, the center, the mike linebacker, whoever the safety is on the back end that's making the calls, the personal protector on the punt team, these signal callers are critical to the units they are on. Ultimately, they are the quarterback when they are on the field. Whether it's the quarterback or defensive player or special teams player, they have to see the game the way you are presenting it to them. You have to see the game the way their lens is on the field. That only happens through a lot of conversation."
Jones attended Judge's introductory news conference in January. They began communicating regularly during the offseason program that began in March but had to do so remotely because of the pandemic-induced restrictions. They have continued to strengthen their connection on the field together since training camp began in late July.
"I certainly feel like I have a good relationship with coach," Jones said. "I've enjoyed working with him and learning from him through camp and into this season. Like we've talked about a lot, he's a very detailed coach. He's clear. The way he communicates, the way he says what he wants is very clear and purposeful, and you can feel that. Guys respond to that. As far as him and I's personal relationship, we have a good one. Like I said, I've enjoyed working with him."
During those months, has Jones showed Judge anything the coach didn't expect?
"I think the thing that some people may miss on Daniel is he's quiet natured at times because he is not just up there spouting out," Judge said. "He's not a quiet guy. Daniel, you get him going, you get him talking, you get him in the huddle, you get him around the guys, Daniel has a very big personality. He's a great dude. Until you spend a lot of time with him, you can miss that depth of him as a person. That's been a really pleasant surprise. I always knew he was intelligent, I knew he was respectful, I knew he was a hard worker. Until we really got time to be with each other and spend a training camp together, you don't really see those layers in people."
Judge has seen them in Jones. It is part of a multi-dimensional partnership the Giants believe will be long and successful.
*Judge will coach his first game Monday night. Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, who became a head coach in 2007 at age 34, has coached in 223 (including the postseason). He led the Steelers to a pair of Super Bowls and when they won Super Bowl VLIII, he became the youngest coach to win the game, a designation he still holds.
Tomlin has an admirer in Judge.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a coach for what he's done for me personally in my career," Judge said, "giving me the opportunity as a young coach to tag along at times and impart to me some of his experiences that have helped me develop my own career."
Judge was a young coach at his alma mater, Mississippi State, when his relationship with Tomlin began in 2006.
"Very simply put, when he was an assistant in the league at the time with Minnesota, I got to meet him simply by answering phones when I was GA'ing for Amos Jones (now the Giants' assistant coach for special projects and situations). He would call Amos sometimes, Amos would say, 'Grab that phone and talk to Mike for a minute.' I got to meet him briefly through the phone.
"Shortly thereafter, he was a head coach in Pittsburgh. To be honest with you, I immediately became a Steelers fan because amongst him and some other people that have been good to me that were good enough to give me the opportunity to tag along with them. I was able to visit them early in his tenure in Pittsburgh when I was a GA. There were times at the combine he allowed me to be a fly on the wall, sit there and have dinner on his check, so I'm very appreciative of that. But he was always very open for a conversation, very open to share some advice when it came up. I have a lot of respect for him as a person, I have a lot of respect for him as a coach. He's done tremendous things in his career.'
*Jones on being an elected a team captain in his second season:
"Being voted by your teammates is a tremendous honor," Jones said. "It's something I don't take lightly at all and I appreciate the responsibility that the position comes with and what it means. I'm certainly grateful to be in this position to be elected. Like I said, it's a serious job. It's something that I don't think you can take lightly. You have a responsibility to your teammates and to your team to represent them and do what you can to be their voice and lead."
*Fourth-year defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson joins linebacker Blake Martinez as the Giants' defensive captains.
"It's an honor to be a captain," Tomlinson said. "To have my peers and everybody vote me in to be a captain is a great honor, I guess you can say, because just to see all the other captains in the past are just great players. I always try to lead by example. I feel like I can't be a captain if I don't go out there and give it my all each and every day. That's one of the biggest things that I feel like every captain has to do."
The Giants will hold a virtual Season Kickoff Event presented by Investors Bank featuring several players and team executives Thursday, September 10, at 7 p.m. ET. The event will stream LIVE on Giants.com, the Giants Mobile App, and the Giants YouTube channel. CLICK FOR DETAILS
View photos of Wednesday's practice ahead of the Giants' Week 1 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.