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Quotes 11/23: Coach Joe Judge, DL Leonard Williams, TE Evan Engram

Head Coach Joe Judge

Q: Get a little break?

A: A little bit. I got a couple days of being dad for a little bit. I saw a lot of soccer games. I thought soccer season was over. I was incorrect on that. We got to catch a lot of them.

Q: Any goals or no? Just a lot of 0-0s?

A: She was playing goalie. They had some high scores. She played alright. They won the game. It was good to see her.

Q: We have not talked to you since you made a coaching change to your staff. Looking back at that situation, I'm sure it was not something you anticipated. Is there anything you could have done differently to kind of patch this together? How unsettling was this whole thing for you?

A: I'll just say on the entire situation, I made this clear from day one, I'm always going to make every decision what I see is best for the team. This decision was no different. Look, there's been a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation. A lot of people have done a lot of digging trying to figure out details of the situation. I'm not going to rehash any of that. I'll just say on the whole thing, we wish Marc (Colombo) well going forward. The decision we made was in the best interest of the New York Giants, short and long-term.

Q: As far as bringing in Dave (DeGuglielmo), how much different are the techniques that he teaches compared to what Marc has been teaching them for the last however many months? Can you implement those within such a short period of time?

A: Yeah, we're not going to do anything to turn the offense upside down right here. We're going to continue focusing on technique and assignments and principles of what we want to do big picture wise. They'll be some adjustments here and there as we go. With six weeks left in the season, there is going to be a lot of continuity we're looking to keep in place and keep improving as we go through the rest of the season. Will there be adjustments as needed throughout the season? Yes. Are we going to look to turn everything upside down? No.

Q: One more thing on Dave. He kind of has an abrasive personality, for lack of a better term. Are you concerned at all with how the offensive line room is going to respond to a new voice like that coming in at this point?

A: No, no.

Q: I'm wondering how that affects, if at all, your relationship with Jason Garrett because obviously Jason and Marc are close and Jason obviously recommended Marc to you for the job. I'm wondering how you firing Marc affects you and Jason?

A: Look, we're all professionals here. We all have one goal in improving the team. Obviously, we've been working through a season. There are a lot of new guys coming from different spots. We're all New York Giants now. We're all working towards the same goal. There have been no effects in that nature right there. I feel good about going forward with everybody.

Q: There was a report out there somewhere that your offensive linemen were a little, I don't know, on edge about the change. Have you talked to them at all? I know there was an elongated bye week. Did you talk to them at all Wednesday, Thursday when you made this move, or is today the first time you've addressed them about it?

A: No, I spoke to the entire team last week. I spoke with the offensive line, I spoke with the captains, I spoke with people both individually and collectively based on the units. Again, we're pretty transparent as an organization. If something happens with the team, we keep it in-house, but I speak very openly with the team about it.

Q: I know part of the reporting had to do with you getting in at practice and kind of coaching up the offensive linemen yourself a little bit. I'm just curious how common is that for you in general? Do you do that around the team, like will you go in and interject and coach up guys in the way you think they should be coached?

A: Yeah, I have no problem at any point with any position stepping in and talking to a position. That being said, I let my coaches coach. I'm not going to comment too much further on the basis of the question you're asking. Again, there was a lot of information out there, a lot of misinformation out there as well. But I'm going to keep most things in-house.

Q: Separate from the Colombo thing, I know a few of your players tested positive for COVID since we last saw you. I'm just curious if you had any updates on if they have a chance of playing on Sunday or what the deal is there?

A: A couple of the guys will not based on just the timetable the league puts us in. There are going to be a couple of those guys who will have an opportunity, not just because the timetable allows them to have the opportunity. We still have to go through the week and the progression of where they are physically, how they handle the ramp up period, if the doctor clears them, all that good stuff there. The answer is yes and no. Some will have an opportunity to play, some will not.

Q: You talked about misinformation a couple of times. Is there anything you would like to get out there and clear up?

A: No. I think there are some common sense that people who want to read articles understand what does and doesn't actually happen within a professional setting and office building. I'm not going to go out and rehash a lot of different things that were out there. This was a professional move. We made the decision that was best for the team.

Q: Were you happy with the coaching, or how happy were you with the coaching in regard to technique that your offensive line was receiving?

A: Yeah, I appreciate the question. Again, I'm going to keep most of that stuff in-house in terms of how we handle things. Obviously, we made a move and we're all working in that direction.

Q: Have you been around a situation kind of like this where you had to move on from a coach in the middle of a season? How would you describe what the transition is supposed to be like in that situation?

A: I think everything is different based on the team and the situation that it occurs under. Yes, I have been around moves as a player and as a coach where there has been transitions in-season. I think the biggest thing for everyone to understand is just keep on moving within the direction of the head coach and trust that there's a plan in place.

Q: Just kind of wanted to piggyback off that a little bit. At some point, you brought in Dave DeGuglielmo as kind of a consultant with the offensive line. Was there something that you saw that made you want to go in that direction and bring in another voice?

A: Look, I'm always looking to do anything that's going to help the team at any point of the year. The decision I made was in the best interest of the team, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Q: What does DeGuglielmo bring to the group and why were you excited to hire him in particular?

A: Yeah, he brings some experience in this league. He's done a good job. He's coached some of the guys that are on the team already. He's worked with a number of guys who are on staff already. There is a level of experience that carries over into that. That's great, but all that really matters now is how each one of us coaches individually, and how he coaches now that he's with the New York Giants. I'm excited to have him on staff with us moving forward. Obviously, we're shifting all of our focus over to Cincinnati right now.

Q: Some of the reporting looks like it is kind of pigeon holing you together with guys you coached with in New England as Judge and his former Patriots assistants, etc. Is it alarming for you to see someone accusing you and your staff of functioning in that way? Like, for lack of a better word, like in a clique type of way? Is that one of the inaccuracies you're discussing? How do you feel about that characterization?

A: Look, I've said the entire time I've been here, I'm not interested in any other program I've ever been a part of. I'm interested in the New York Giants. Everyone here has worked somewhere else at some point in time. Every player has played somewhere else at some point in time. All that matters is what we do for the New York Giants from this point forward, and that's all we care about. That being said, if you look at the bios of my staff, you're going to see a lot of pieces connected through different places prior to coming here. The notion that we're concerned about anywhere else we've been or that we'd base anything based on where we've been, everyone has experiences that you draw on. That would be it. But there is no internal division or struggle or anything that's being referenced right there or that anyone's trying to create. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Q: I know you've been talking about sudden change and adapting from the beginning since you got the job, really. How has your schedule been forced to adjust from the initial test with Graham (Gano) last Monday? The way you guys have had to operate the last week or so, now not getting back on the field collectively until Wednesday, what have you done or what will you do to make sure that this team is ready to come off a bye and essentially have three and a half days on the field before you go play Cincinnati?

A: Like you said, sudden change is always an emphasis for us. That's on and off the field. I think if you kind of live in that world of sudden change, it makes all these adjustments you had at the beginning of the year and whatever comes our way, we're going to handle and we're going to thrive in adjustment. Last week, obviously, we had plans to go on the field for Tuesday and Wednesday. That was changed with the news of a positive test. We got further news last week that kind of altered some of our plans for today. But we've taken all the precautions necessary. We've met virtually instead of in person. We'll continue to meet virtually throughout the remainder of this week instead of in person. We'll do walkthroughs and practices with all the protocols being met. We'll stay outside as much as we can, obviously, even during the walkthrough sessions of what we're doing to make sure it's open air, improve the ventilation. We're going to work in some smaller groups or pods a little bit in terms of the entire team being together. Try to chop it up and keep guys spaced out. But this has kind of just become normal for us. Our guys understand that whether it's on or off the field, we had made plans to do something, but sudden change happens. We just go ahead and we thrive on that.

Q: Can I quickly ask you about (Xavier) McKinney and (Oshane) Ximines, who you guys have designated to return. Are they close enough where they're a possibility for Sunday? Is the shortened week not being on the field all together going to compromise your decision-making in terms of that?

A: No, I think both have a chance for Sunday. Today was the first day getting them both back out there. I'd say both moved well, both were really flying around the field today doing what we had to do. But it was mostly individual type work today. When we get into Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, kind of see them in a more team setting. Wednesday, we'll have the pads on, see them pop the pads a little bit and see how their bodies respond to it. That will really tell the story for the weekend. I don't want to rule anybody out in that nature. I thought both guys really came back, did a great job rehabbing with the trainers and physical therapists, and both guys moved around well today. I always want to be fair to the player and put him in a team setting before we go ahead and try to rule them in or out for a game. But I'd say based on today, they would have a chance. We just have to see where they are when we get into a team setting.

Q: Is it different with McKinney because he's a rookie and he hasn't had any game experience?

A: No. I think whatever role we select to play him in, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. We can minimize his role a little bit and kind of get him in. Again, this is a guy that hasn't had any experience on the field in a game setting this year. To me, in terms of him being a rookie, I'm still just looking physically how is he moving around and are we being fair to him in whatever we ask him to do that he can go out there and be successful in doing that.

Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams

Q: How excited are you to be playing meaningful games during the month of December where a division title is on the line?

A: In terms of football and football knowledge and awareness of the season and how it goes, people always say the realest football is played around these months after Thanksgiving. This is definitely the time where you have to play some of you best football. We didn't really have preseason this year, so those first few games of the season were kind of like the warmup games. We're kind of past that halfway marker, so we just have to tighten things up a little bit tighter. Make adjustments and just keep moving forward. We just came off of a bye week, so people should be feeling fresh and ready to attack the rest of the season. 

Q: Is there more of an excitement for you? This is like playoff football going into December. Every game is important.

A: Yeah, for sure. I haven't been to the playoffs yet, I got close one year when I went 10-6 with the Jets my rookie year. Since then, I haven't really been close to going to the playoffs. That's kind of far down the line still. Like I said, we just finished close to midseason. It's kind of hard for us to look that far ahead. If we do something like that, we might mess around and overlook a team. We really have to focus week by week. Right now, we have the Bengals and we're looking to go 1-0 after this bye week. Try not to look too far ahead like that. 

Q: When you watch yesterday's game like I assume you did, is it a disappointment to see a guy like Joe Burrow go down? Were you interested to see him on the field? Is there a fear that there might be a letdown now that you're facing a backup?

A: To answer that first part of the question, I think it does suck to see any type of player get injured in this game. I know you hear it a lot, people say it's above the sport. No one wants to see someone that we play with, we respect their grind and everything like that, to get hurt. I was definitely looking forward to playing against him. He's a great talent. Hopefully he recovers really fast.

Q: Is there something going on technique wise or coaching wise that is helping you finish plays that maybe earlier in your career you weren't able to kind of get home?

A: Sometimes a lot of stuff plays a part. We have a good secondary that can help the quarterback hold the ball for that split second longer when we have corners plastering their guys. We have a lot of different blitzes that help out. We're moving around. I'm playing three technique, I'm playing five technique, I'm playing outside, moving all around. I think a lot of that stuff goes into it. Coach Spence (Sean Spencer) and coach Pat (Patrick Graham) have been doing a good job coaching.

Q: You have stood up on a couple of plays. Have you ever stood up?

A: I don't prefer to stand up. I think it just depends on what type of look I'm getting from the offense. Sometimes when I'm out there at defensive end they will put tight ends or receivers in a crack position to where they get flexed out from the line, but they are still tight to the line. They are looking down at you, that's when I will be able to stand up and fill it and read it a little bit better. When I see that tight end or that guy that's flexed out trying to crack me a little bit better when I'm standing up compared to when my hands are in the dirt. That's the only time, it's just situational football.

Q: Is that a haircut?

A: No, I had practice today. I just braided it up old school.

Q: With what happened to Joe Judge and Marc Colombo last week, is there something about the Joe Judge style that is more demanding, more serious, more buttoned up? Is it something where maybe some players will take to it and some players will not take to it?

A: I don't really know what part of the question to answer. I don't think him and Colombo had anything to do with the way he coaches. His style of coaching is good for players who want to win and want to play hard, practice hard, and understand that your practice is reflective of how you play. Guys that are willing to buy into a program are going to do great under a system like that. There's obviously some guys who are a little bit harder to coach and little bit harder to get to buy into systems. They might be a little bit harder to fall into line. At the same time, when you're a part of this team, you kind of feel the atmosphere of everyone buying in. Even those guys that are a little bit harder to coach, once they see the rest of their teammates buying in, they will come along eventually, too. I think it's a great way, the way we practice. I think it shows we have a tough team. I feel like after losses or wins we go right back to work. I think it's a hard-hat type of team that wants to work and grind.

Q: Is it more demanding that maybe some other guys you've played for?

A: I wouldn't say it's crazy strict or way too demanding. It's what you would expect out of a football team. It's always a little bit more demanding in season. At the same time, I feel like I do work hard, and I feel like the team works hard. I feel like everyone is bought in, which is the most important part to me. I think the leadership that he has, you feel literally the whole team is bought in. Like I said, after a loss or a win you feel the energy of guys ready to get back to work. I feel like that's a little bit rare. I've been on teams where we will be losing, and you will immediately start feeling guys start to go their own way, tetting upset with stuff and start to fall apart a little bit as a team. Even in the beginning when stuff was going rough, guys were sticking to together and staying close and fighting through stuff together. I think that's important.

Q: You might get Tae Crowder, (Xavier) McKinney and (Oshane) Ximines back this week. Or soon if not this week. What will that do in terms of boosting the defense in terms of reinforcement?

A: It will definitely help our defense. Our defense has been going in the right direction. Those are just more weapons to add on. They're all young players. Tae Crowder has definitely improved and stepped up in the beginning of the season and did a lot for us. Zay (Mckinney) is finally going to be able to come back and play with us, which everyone is excited about. I know they are going to bring a lot of energy and are excited to be back with us as well.

Q: This defense is not full of Pro Bowlers or star players. I think if I'm not mistaken you are the only guy who has ever made a Pro Bowl. Have you guys rallied around the no stars, all as one, kind of overachieving mentality?

A: I don't know if it's like the no star mentality. I don't think we look at it in that aspect. Something the coaches have implemented in our mind is when you walk into that door, leave your ego out of it. We don't care where you came from. If you were a first rounder, if you were a non-drafted guy, everyone is coming in here to work today. We're going to treat everybody fairly and everyone the same. I think that type of system is what makes people bought into one big picture. I think the fact that our defense has all 11 guys that are bought in on one big picture makes everyone play better. The better we play up front is going to help our linebackers. The better the linebackers play and we play is going to help the secondary. Vice versa, like I was saying earlier, sometimes when the corners are plastering the guys, it helps us get home up front. I think it's just one big working system.

Q: As a player on the team, when you first hear there is a coaching change in the middle of the season, what goes through your head?

A: I think it's definitely a shock. I don't care what type of job you have, if anyone gets fired, it's going to be a shock to anyone in the workplace. I really don't understand what was going on, so I feel like it wasn't in my place to try to figure out what was going on. That being said, I didn't really pick it apart or try to find details about it. I just figured it was something between them and something that had to happen upstairs. It's not really in my payroll. I just come to play defensive end in the defense. Try to be the best leader I can be in my position. It was definitely a shock, that's really all I can say. 

Q: From a defensive perspective, what do you think this defense needs to do in order for you guys to be a playoff team?

A: Just play four quarters. I think a lot of times we show signs of greatness and we can be great. I think there's times on third downs with some teams we will be lights out and just unstoppable on defense on third downs. There's times where we give up too many plays on third down. I feel like that's just the nature of the game. It's not a perfect game, but you just want to work as much as possible to make it a full four-quarter game. Start fast, end strong. Red zone, all the big things, just try to finish.

Tight End Evan Engram

Q: I know you don't play offensive line, but given what happened last week and what we all reported on that situation with Joe Judge firing Marc Colombo, how do you as a player and how do you guys as a team react to that?

A: Yeah, that entire situation is definitely above my pay grade. As a player and as a team, we know that with Coach Judge, every decision he makes is in the best interest of the team. I know me personally and a lot of guys loved working with Coach Colombo and obviously wish him the best. But like I said, that's the thing with Coach Judge. His best interest is always with the team. 

Q: Did you watch the games, the Washington, Dallas and Philadelphia games, yesterday? What is your reaction to looking at the standings right now and seeing everybody has three wins and it's kind of a sprint to the finish here?

A: I had the little Red Zone channel on yesterday, going back and forth from all the games. I definitely had my eye on the division guys. Yeah, it's a unique opportunity for us. The focus is on getting better each and every day and attacking each day and preparing ourselves for that game each week coming up. Yeah, it's a lot of meaningful football for us. We're heading into it with the right mindset, getting ready for it. 

Q: What is that change? You haven't really played any meaningful football games in your three-year NFL career here. What's the difference right now versus what you're usually feeling on November 23rd?

A: It's definitely, like I said, a unique opportunity. It's even more unique coming off a bye week and having that motivation and having that sense of urgency and opportunity that's ahead of us is different. I know as a team, we're really looking forward to it. It's definitely going to push us to work even harder, even coming off a bye week when we kind of got away from it for a little bit. 

Q: Are you interested to see how you and your teammates respond to big games in November? A lot of times at this part of the year, especially if you're 3-7, there are individual goals, you still want to win but there is no playoff carrot out there. This antes it up for everybody, doesn't it?

A: Yeah, definitely. Like I said, when it's meaningful football and the playoffs are involved, everybody's, like I said, sense or urgency goes up. For me, it's different being here the last three years in the situations that we've been in. I know it's different for a lot of the young guys that are here that are just coming into the league and getting their opportunity to play meaningful football. Like I said, our motivation right now is getting better each and every day and attacking each opportunity going into the week, like we have now going against Cincinnati. But it is a special opportunity that a lot of guys are ready for. 

Q: Did you take an opportunity, advantage of this little break to kind of look back at your first 10 games, look at what you did well, what you didn't do well, and kind of reassess? If so, what did you see and is your head more clear moving forward maybe?

A: Yeah, that's always kind of been the way I approach the bye week. Just kind of early on in the break, breaking down the first half of the year, or the first 10 games, seeing things that I've improved on, seeing the things I need to continue to improve on. For me, it's the small things. It's blocking technique, it's little things I've seen that I've gotten better at. Then there are things, like ball security and even staying more consistent in the blocking game, that I need to continue to get better at going forward. A lot of small things that I'm always trying to work on. I always kind of evaluate myself before the bye week. 

Q: You guys have had some guys test positive for COVID. Some star players around the league like Myles Garrett had to sit out. 10 weeks into this thing, how much of a distraction has this been? How different has this been for you? How has it changed your preparation week to week?

A: This year has been different in all phases for everybody. Just the possibility of catching COVID, when you have guys test positive, it's definitely some adversity and it's a hurdle we have to overcome as an individual and as a team. There's a lot of things that we deal with during the football season and obviously having these circumstances is a new one this year. I think we do a good job of kind of working through the adversity. I'm keeping my mind focused on what's ahead of us and that's opportunity of attacking and playing that game that Sunday. 

Q: With Thanksgiving being this week I know a lot of you guys have family coming to town. From your perspective, have you had a change in your plans? What will you do this year based on the guidelines and restrictions that are out there? Are you able to bring some family and friends up to enjoy the holiday with you?

A: I think this year is definitely different for me just because my family knows what's at stake. My family is really tuned into how strict we have to be, and I have to be. From my availability and being safe from the virus and stuff. They kind of understand that this is a different year of taking visits up here and coming to see me. My family, they get up here any time they can in the past years. They understand this year is kind of different. This year I might just be by my lonesome on Thanksgiving. I know we will probably have a FaceTime reunion or something. Like I said, they understand the circumstances.  

Q: As a tight end, how much do you guys actually work with the offensive line coach?

A: In practice, there is individual periods where we work combo stuff with the tackles. Small running game things in some of the run schemes that we do have to work with them. A lot of it is kind of working on our steps. Knowing what the goal is for the type of scheme or type that we're running and kind of get to our aiming point. There are times in practice that we work with the tackles. 

Q: How much different was the technique stuff that you learned this year compared to years past or was it?

A: It's not really that much different. We have some different run game stuff in. Terminology and definitely new coaches that coach it a different way. It's kind of all really the same. 

Q: Aside from winning games. What do you think this team needs to do in order to be able to say at the end okay we're going to be able to win this division?

A: I think it's just attacking the moment we're in right now. Not look ahead, not worry about what is going on in the other games and the other teams. Kind of just letting everything play out. For us, worry about what's on our plate and the opportunity we have in front of us in that moment and in that week.

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