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Cover 3: First impressions of head coach Joe Judge

Three writers give their first impressions of Joe Judge, who last week was named the 19th head coach in franchise history:

John Schmeelk: The Giants have a new head coach in Joe Judge. For any head coach, his staff is paramount in delivering his message, carrying out his strategy and tactics, and doing the day-to-day work to develop players. Based on how Judge says he wants his team to run, it will be even more important. In his press conference, Judge talked about how he wants his game plans to adjust each week based on his team's strengths and his opponents' weaknesses. As a head coach that will not be a play caller, Judge will rely on this coordinators to fulfill that vision and be flexible in their scheme. He will also be dependent on them to teach and install whatever needs to be done to achieve those goals and play with new tactics each week.

Judge talked about one week potentially playing with big people and running the ball 40 times, and the next throwing 50 passes with a bunch of wide receivers on the field. On defense, he spoke about playing a 3-4 defense one week, and the next week playing a 4-3. It will be up to his coaches to get the players up to speed each week to be able to make those types of changes and be effective.

The position coaches are just as important. They are in meetings with their position group and working with them during the individual portions of practice. It is in these smaller settings where teaching takes place. As Judge said, every player learns in a different way and it is up to the position coaches to figure out how to reach every player in the group.

In addition to scheme versatility, Judge talked about the importance of learning what every one of his players is capable of and then playing to those strengths. It will be up to his position coaches to assist in learning what each player in his group can do athletically (strength, speed, quickness, length, power, etc.) and how to best use those traits to make them effective players.

The assistant coaches will be charged to stress the fundamentals, like blocking and tackling, and effectively teach them on the field and in the classroom. Judge talked about how good fundamentals are the key to good football, and it is the position coaches who teach those skills. They will also teach whatever strategic and tactical changes are installed by the coordinators each week.

Every great General needs officers in the field to carry out his orders and get his men ready to do what's required of them. It is no different for a head coach. It will be interesting to watch Judge compose his staff.

On the one-year anniversary, view photos of Joe Judge's first day after being named head coach of the New York Giants.

Dan Salomone: "Earn it." Those two syllables stood out in the 6,567-word transcript of Judge's introductory press conference. He didn't talk about history. He didn't vow to put a fifth Lombardi Trophy in the atrium at team's headquarters. He didn't gush over Daniel Jones. He's smarter than that. He knows it's all about what the Giants do each day from here on out.

You don't have to look far to find where he learned that mentality – and that's part of it, too. Judge has to earn everything moving forward. He is no longer coaching under Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. Now the wins and losses are on him.

"All I'm concerned about is the opportunity I have in front of me and what I have to do going forward," he said. "And I'm going to tell my players the same thing, it doesn't matter how you got there, it doesn't matter how high-profile you may be or may not be, it's what you do on a daily basis. If you're in a position, earn it. Earn it every day. And I appreciate the opportunity, I'm working every day to earn it. And our players have to do the same thing. The best players will play. I don't care where you got drafted, I don't care if you're an undrafted free agent, I don't care if you're old, young, traded, whatever you got there for. Everybody will have an opportunity every day to compete for a job on our roster. Every day. If you want to be on the field, be the best player. Outwork the guy in front of you. Prove your value to us, show you can handle the job, and we're going to put you on the field and give you an opportunity."

Lance Medow: Chief Executive Officer. That's the first phrase that comes to mind after listening to Joe Judge during his introductory presser. Judge's approach to coaching is to serve as the CEO and he made that very clear: "I'm not going to be the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator, or the special teams coordinator. I'll work with all three sides of the ball." There's no one right way to be a successful head coach, but delegating responsibilities to a strong staff you have hand selected isn't a bad way to go. When you transition from a coordinator job or positional coach to a head man, there are a number of other responsibilities on your plate, such as media, scheduling and oftentimes issues that have very little to do with the x's and o's. That's why Judge's game plan to oversee all facets of the team while empowering his assistants makes a lot of sense. 

Judge's structure will be a bit different than his two predecessors. Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur previously served as offensive coordinators and a big reason why they ultimately landed the position of head coach was because of their ability to call plays, so it's not surprising they kept those responsibilities with the promotion. On the other hand, Judge has never served as a play-caller, so those responsibilities will go to his top two assistants. On game day, his focus will be on all three phases of the team.

As a special teams coordinator, Judge has had plenty of experience addressing an entire team, not just one group or unit. He understands how fluid rosters are, which is why he stresses the importance of fundamentals and player development in building a successful team. Judge's background in education shouldn't be overlooked. From dealing with kindergarteners to professional football players, Judge has teaching experience at all levels and understands you have to a different approach to every player instead of a generic plan to get a message across to the entire team. Judge summed it up best during his presser: "I would say teaching is just to inspire learning. And I think what we have to do is, we have to identify how our players learn. Everybody learns different. Everyone learns different. We have to make sure that when we teach we hit the full spectrum of students in the classroom, the full spectrum of our players." Class is now in session in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but the lesson plan will clearly continue to evolve.


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