EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Judge got philosophical today in his daily Zoom call with reporters, and in the process opened a window on some of his core beliefs as a head coach.
First, some background. Like all coaches, Judge likes to keep all football-related issues in-house.
On Monday night, Golden Tate caught a touchdown pass late in the Giants' loss to Tampa Bay, turned to a television camera and said, "Throw me the ball." His wife, Elise, soon posted a long message on Instagram that essentially made the same request.
Judge was asked about all that early in the call.
"I spoke to Golden at length today," said Judge, whose team will return to action Sunday in Washington. "We're dealing internally with a lot of things. We have a walkthrough today. He's not going to be at the walkthrough today, but he will be back in the building and practicing with us the remainder of the week. It will be business as usual. We're going to deal with this internally, and that's all I'm really going to say about that."
After fielding questions about other subjects, he received a query that included, "In general, what is your philosophy when a player goes outside your 'team first' philosophy for the Giants? How do you handle that, how do you approach that?"
Rather than declining to comment or deflecting to a short, perfunctory answer, Judge responded with candor and detail while demonstrating an understanding of the demands faced by the reporters on the call.
"I can kind of tie it in real simple and kind of answer a couple things," Judge said. "I know a lot of you guys are probably looking at me wondering if I'm dancing around a lot of issues. First off, it has to be team first for everyone in this building. Every coach and every player has to be team first. There's no exceptions for that. I'm not going to tolerate and put up with any kind of selfish behavior from anybody, coach or player, it's not going to happen. Number two, there's no secret, I'm very general on a lot of things I talk about. I'm not very forthcoming with a lot of injuries, because I don't like the expectations that puts on players. Not because I'm trying to always hide things from the bookmakers in Vegas. I don't want someone going ahead and putting something on a player that they want to be the stay-at-home doctor and tell us that someone's hamstring should only be a four to six-week injury. When it goes seven weeks - they must not be tough or working hard enough.
"When it comes to discipline, I don't believe in holding trial on any one of my players or coaches, for that matter, in the public eye. While that may be inconvenient a lot of times for fans who want to stay connected and I understand it's a tough job you guys all have in terms of there is information people want and want to be connected. I choose to deal with things internally because as a head coach, it's my job to protect the team. It's my job to make sure we can handle things internally, that we have a family structure in this building, that everyone understands there are consequences for our actions. At the same time, I've got to be the one that can take bullets for the team, and I'm fine with that. I've got to make sure I do the right things by all the players and the coaches. They can come to work, they can work aggressively. When we make a mistake, we can correct it and understand we don't always have to be the subject of public criticism. We bring that on ourselves enough already, that's just the nature of the business. We're an entertainment business, we understand that. The fans deserve a good product on the field. We want to always do something to give them what they deserve to see. It's very important to us that people in New York and New Jersey see something that represents them. On that note, I'm going to be very direct any time things like this come up that I'm going to deal with things internally. You guys have dealt with me already on that. That's not by accident, I'm just being very forthcoming with you. I just don't want everyone having to go through the trial of public opinion right now. We're all different, that's just my philosophy."
Judge was asked if, because of his experience as a coach, he is confident the team will "move past this."
"Every situation is obviously different," Judge said. "There's things you deal with internally that obviously the team reacts to differently. There's a lot of situations that come up, but I'd rather us deal with it internally and be able to move forward as a team than have everyone else weigh in on a situation that they may not have all the details to the exact circumstance of what exactly happened. That's not an indictment on anyone trying to write a story. I know everyone on here has a very tough job to do. You guys are demanded to come up with something different on a daily basis with limited information. I know I'm not always the most generous when it comes to giving details of things that help you with that. I appreciate the hard work you do. I don't try to be deceptive, but I am very direct in letting everyone know that I'm not going to put my players on blast publicly. I will criticize them very openly and bluntly in squad meetings. I'm going to hold everybody accountable. That starts with myself. I'm the first one to tell everybody when I screw up because I demand every player to look in the mirror and have the same criticism of themselves. We're never going to look at each other and say that wasn't your fault, sometimes it is your fault and sometimes it's my fault. We're going to be very open and honest with each other. We've got to correct what happens and move forward without it becoming a distraction that pulls us back throughout the year with external factors affecting our guys internally. That's why I do what I do, that's my philosophy. Right, wrong or indifferent, that's just what I believe in."
*As Judge noted, the Giants held a walk-through today, so their injury report was an estimation. In addition to Tate, two players who missed the Tampa Bay game due to injury did not participate: running back Devonta Freeman (ankle) and defensive back Ryan Lewis (hamstring).
"We will see Devonta with the trainers a little bit more moving around. Made a lot of progress," Judge said. "I'll check and see after this like I do every day with Ronnie (Barnes, the team's senior vice president of medical services) and see where he's at today. The ability to get him on the grass and move him around kind of gives us a better window into where he may be going into Sunday."
*Second-year linebacker Oshane Ximines has missed the last four games and is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
"He's making a lot of progress," Judge said. "We're hoping to see him sooner than later. It won't be this week for him right now. He's making a lot of gains. I think the biggest balance with those guys is balancing with the trainers at what point can we put him out there and know he can properly defend himself and execute aggressively. He's been working with the trainers very hard. He's been getting some work in the weight room done and those have been positives. We've got Washington and Philly and a bye week coming up. Somewhere in that window hopefully we get him back."