Joe Judge sat down in his office at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. He resumed his normal duties for the Patriots in an offseason that began abnormally early by their standards.
The special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach returned the night before from his interview in East Rutherford, where he met with Giants president John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman, vice president of football operations Kevin Abrams and other staff at the team's headquarters about their vacant head coach position. That day, the phone rang. Mara was on the other end and offered the job.
In that moment, Judge joined an exclusive fraternity of men who know the thoughts that immediately rushed to his head. And no one else but them can understand.
"It was very humbling," Judge said in his introductory press conference. "I think when you get past the initial wave of excitement, and then you realize the task at hand you have, you realize that it's time to go to work. There's people depending on you and that's a humbling feeling."
After pouring himself out in the interview process, the real work began. Here is what Judge needs to accomplish in the coming days, weeks and months:
Form a staff
Judge said Thursday he has some names in mind, but he will take his time. He wouldn't get into specifics, just what type of coaches he wants to assemble.
"My priority is to put the right men around these players that they can come to work every day, they can be coached hard, they can be taught," Judge said. "I want good people. Before anything, if you're going to work in an organization, you're a good person. I don't want any alternative agendas, I'm making that clear right now. There is not going to be a coach in our organization who has nothing but the best interest in the players at hand and isn't going to come to work every day and put their butt on the line for the guys who are going to work hard for them.
"I want teachers, not presenters. I don't want someone who looks fancy in front of the screen that can say it with a lot of different sales lines. I want teachers, I want old school people who can get to our players and give them the mental image of what it's supposed to look like. I want them to demonstrate on a daily basis the work ethic of what it's going to take to do it successfully day in and day out."
Right now, Judge has an outsider's view of the organization. He has competed against the Giants and studied them from the outside in as he prepared for the interview. That includes the players.
"We have a lot of talent on this roster," Judge said. "It's been assembled that way for a reason, I don't want to sit here and try to give you expert analysis without having done my due diligence and homework to sit down and thoroughly investigate each one of these players. They all have ability. I'm excited to work with every player on our roster. Every player on our roster has talent, and every player on our roster will compete for whatever they get. Nothing will be handed out."
Before he could be asked, Judge knew one of the questions would be about the offensive scheme. It's natural a year after the Giants drafted Daniel Jones sixth overall and the quarterback set every franchise rookie passing record.
"Well, I can answer that of all three systems – offense, defense, and special teams – our philosophy is going to be to put pressure on the opponent to prepare for multiple things," Judge said. "Within that, we have to have personnel versatility and we have to have flexibility schematically to make sure that whoever we play, we can adjust our game plan to maximize our strengths versus their weaknesses. So, while there may be some games that we throw the ball 50 times, there's going to be other times we may throw it 10 times and run the ball 45 times. So, I don't have a crystal ball, Miss Cleo can help you better with that, but we're going to look for the best system to help us week by week."
On defense, Judge was asked if he will stick with the 3-4 scheme that was implemented two years ago under the former coaching staff.
"We'll do whatever fits our personnel versus specific opponents better," he said. "3-4, 4-3, man, zone, we're going to look at the best path, and that could change week by week. So, we want to build in versatility with our players and be able to use multiples on all sides of the ball."
Meet team and set the tone
Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2019 regular season may begin offseason workout programs on April 6. That's when Judge will meet with the team in a group setting for the first time. It will include a group of newly-acquired free agents (free agency opens March 18) but not the rookie class yet. The Giants hold the fourth overall pick when the draft begins April 23 in Las Vegas.
"I want this team to reflect this area," Judge said. "I want the people that pay their hard-earned money and the neighborhoods of New York, North Jersey, South Jersey, to come to our games and know that the players on the field play with the same attitude they wake up with every morning. That is blue-collar, it's hard work, it's in your face. We're not going to back down from anybody. We're going to come to work every day and grind it out the way they do in their jobs every day, and they can invest their money in our program knowing it's worthwhile. They put a Giants uniform on, they put a Giants hat or jersey on, that it's not representing just the 53 on the field, but it's representing their neighborhoods, their communities and their families with the values they have instilled in their children."
In setting the tone, Judge revealed he will practice live tackling.
"You cannot get by with some kind of magic scheme or new gimmick or think you've reinvented the wheel," Judge said. "The same things win football games that have always won football games. It's fundamentals. Those fundamentals will start for us in the classroom. They'll start with being in meetings on time, they'll start with being on the field on time in the proper dress. They'll start with knowing your playbook, they'll start with being out there and stretching the right way and warming your body up the right way that you prevent any kind of soft tissue injuries on the field.
"Then they'll carry over to the fundamentals on the field—it's running, it's tackling, it's ball security. It's a contact sport, you can't get around that. It's meant to be a physical game. It's for tough people. We will practice with a physical attitude. We will practice in pads, we will practice live tackling—not to make a statement that we're trying to be tough. We're going to practice live tackling because I believe in doing it safely. You want to make your players safer, you start by instructing them how to do it. We're going to work on everything we do. Everything we ask them to do at full speed on Sunday at a competitive level we're going to make sure that we have practiced, corrected, and re-practiced before they have to do it at a live pace. There are not going to be shortcuts with what we have to do. It's a tough division, it's a tough division and the city is full of tough people and they expect to see a program, they expect to see a product, that represents them. I'm going to do everything in my power, every day, to make sure the people of this city and this area turn on the TV or sit in the stadium seats and are proud to say that we're their New York Giants. Now, from this point forward, any questions you may have I'd be happy to answer to the best of my ability."
On the one-year anniversary, view photos of Joe Judge's first day after being named head coach of the New York Giants.