On the day he took over as head coach, Joe Judge was adamant about not putting the cart before the horse when it came to player evaluations and expectations. That even included starting quarterback Daniel Jones, who led all rookies in touchdown passes last season.
At the Senior Bowl, Judge respectively declined. At the NFL Scouting Combine, he was asked if the lack of public support might be taken the wrong way. "He'll understand over time how much we're going to support all of the players," said Judge, who added, "Well, what have I given any other player that would make that person feel that he's been slighted?"
It was Judge's way of being fair to Jones and the rest of the team. He wanted the 22-year-old first to have the opportunity to learn the offense, one that he has never taken a snap in, and progress at a rate that meets the expectations that are internally set.
But now, as the team wrapped up the second week of its virtual offseason program, Jones' blank slate is starting to fill up. To no surprise, it's nothing but gold stars.
"I love working with this guy every day," Judge said during an interview with Giants’ all-time leading rusher Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney on CBS Sports Network. "He's got a fire that burns in him. He brings other guys along with him. He shows up every day. He knows what you're going to teach before you're teaching it in terms of being prepared on material. He sets the tone for the room, and I'm very excited [for] when we finally get these guys in person and get with him."
Before the facility closed in the wake of the pandemic, Judge and Jones had the opportunity to meet face-to-face.
"We had a lot of conversations, a lot of conversations," Judge said. "Let me tell you something right now, sitting down with him and talking his philosophy on the program and where we're going to go, what his goals are in his career, I'm glad he's on our team. Let me put it that way. I'm really glad he's on our team."
The same goes for all the players.
They're anxious to get on the grass and play, and the coaches can't wait to get on the field and coach them. Until then, they do what they can with what is now a full roster. Between free agency, 10 draft picks and more than a dozen undrafted rookies, the Giants reached the 90-man offseason limit this week.
"The first thing I love about the roster is we're young," Judge said. "I really love that. I love that we have young talent. We have a lot of eager players looking to come in and compete and make their mark – and that, to me, is the biggest thing that jumped out. We have a lot of young guys with talent, and we've got to develop these guys and get them going."
Once they do that, the winning will follow for a hungry franchise – and fan base.
"Let's not pretend all 32 teams are the same," Judge said. "This is a tremendous opportunity. This is a great market. Growing up in the Northeast, the one thing I've always valued is the fans. You want to be somewhere where it's important. You want to be somewhere where the job you put work into is valued. New York, this is one of those towns. This is the town that, on Monday, they're talking about everything you did in the game – and that's important."
View photos of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones throughout his NFL career.