EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Judge's Chambers, a weekly interview with Giants coach Joe Judge exclusively for Giants Season Ticket Members:
Q: Did you ever celebrate your first head coaching victory with your family, or because it's a short week, just watched the game tape and went right on to Philly?
Judge: "I watched the tape at my house, so first, I went home and had dinner with the kids and was able to catch up with them. I hadn't seen them all weekend getting ready for the game. I had two sons that had played games that weekend, so I spent a lot of time asking them more about their games. They got to watch my game. But it was good seeing them after the game."
Q: Did they win like you?
Judge: "They both did, yes. They both won."
Q: What are the biggest challenges you have playing a game in a short week?
Judge: "I think the biggest thing is just the quick turnaround health-wise with your team. You want to make sure you do the right thing by the players to get their bodies back. I know everybody does different schedules getting ready for these things. I've been in a couple different versions of what we're doing this week. But the emphasis for us is mentally to get them as prepared as possible. I think our guys are attentive enough and receptive enough and do a good enough job working that the amount of material you can present to them and get them caught up to for the game, that doesn't have to be significantly reduced. Although you try to boil it down a little bit to just the critical things, and always save yourself a little bit of room for what we can install at halftime if we need to make some adjustments. Physically, it's what do we have to do to make sure all our guys can get to the field and play full speed on Thursday night. For us, that's always been a little bit more of walkthroughs and kind of get them into the weight room, get some blood pumping or flowing, get some extra treatment, massages, things they do to get their bodies back. But really, the biggest challenge is the physical element of getting these guys back because there's a lot of wear and tear that happens on their body on a Sunday. There are a lot of weeks where you get guys who really can't even practice until Thursday. Now you have to play a game on a Thursday. It's a tight turnaround for a lot of guys."
Q: Since you have so little time on the field and your players are so accustomed now to working remotely and doing things without actually practicing, does that help them prepare for this week?
Judge: "I don't know if the remote learning applies at all this week because we're still doing the meetings in person like we normally do. It's heavier meetings than it is on the field. We're going to do actually two sessions (Tuesday) on the field. We kind of split the day in half of having a Wednesday, if you will, in the morning and a Thursday in the afternoon. Then Thursday is kind of a Friday/Saturday in the morning. I think that the way we're handling it is productive for the players that we want to limit some of the time on their feet. On Tuesday, we let them kind of get caught up. It's a lot of mental work. The attention to detail they have to have in meetings and the interaction is key. But we are doing a lot of things to be cautious and conscious of how we treat their bodies right now."
Q: If you beat the Eagles, you'll essentially be tied at the top of the division. Is that something you talk about with the players or is it too early to start thinking about that?
Judge: "No, I don't really get into those kinds of things. Our goal every week is to be 1-0, and right now, our goal for this week is to be 1-0. But we have a division opponent, a rival, so that's all of our focus right now."
Q: Daniel (Jones) is leading the team in rushing. He has more than 200 yards, he averages almost eight yards a carry, he had a 49-yard run on Sunday. Did you anticipate that he would be so productive as a runner, or is that something that developed as the season unfolded?
Judge: "That's something we knew about, that he had a skillset for. He had been productive through college and in his rookie year with using his legs to make plays. It's just whatever is presented by game plan, situation and opportunity. Jason (Garrett) has done a good job of looking to mix that in and use it when the opportunity comes up, and Daniel's done a good job when his number's been called of executing and being productive with the ball in his hands."
Q: That 49-yarder was the longest run by a Giants quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
Judge: "Is it really? I wasn't aware of that. I'm happy for Daniel on that one."
Q: Do you have to be careful not to overuse him as a runner because of the potential physical toll?
Judge: "I think we have to do whatever is best for the team. But I think within that, Daniel has to be smart at certain points of knowing when to go ahead and push forward and initiate some contact, and when to be smart and either get out of bounds, slide or dive and make sure he stays off the hits. We've talked to Daniel about that a number of times. Probably the toughest thing with Daniel is he's a hard-headed dude and he's a tough dude, so when he gets running, he's not really looking to slide and show somebody he's backing down. We just need him to understand that, 'Hey look, we need a lot more from you than just some extra yards sometimes.' But in a got-to-have-it situation, he's the guy that's going to put it on the line for us."
Q: In the Washington game, you had 112 passing yards, one offensive touchdown, 16 first downs. Do you come out of that game thinking, "We made the plays we needed to win, but we left plays on the field there and that's something we have to get better at going forward?"
Judge: "I thought the way we needed to play the other day was the formula going in that we were looking for. Obviously, when you get the opportunity for a shot like we did the other day with the touchdown to Darius (Slayton), you take them. We want to finish drives more consistently. You always want to finish with touchdowns more so than field goals, but it's important to get points and that's what Graham's (Gano) been doing a great job for us of putting the ball through the uprights when we call his number. But I'm pleased with the way the team played the other day. They worked hard, they battled through a lot of things. Obviously, there's always something to correct and clean up, and there's always good football to build off of."
Q: When Kyler Fackrell signed in the spring, a lot was made of the fact that his sack total dropped so much in Green Bay last year (from 10.5 in 2018 to 1.0). He had about 200 fewer snaps than he had the previous year. Did you look at the tape from both 2018 and '19 and say, "This guy can still be the impact player he was two years ago?"
Judge: "We watched all the tape of Kyler before signing him. He wasn't a guy I had coached before. Pat (Graham, the defensive coordinator) had, he had a lot of confidence in him, which is what kind of drew us to him. But he has a good skillset with a lot of versatility. He helps us in the pass game, whether he's dropping into coverage or rushing the passer, and does a good job against the run of setting the edge and really making sure he plays off the blocks to the ball. But he's a guy that we know has a lot of versatility in his game, so we'll look to change it up with him, give him opportunities to rush or drop in the pass game, and he definitely capitalizes on some opportunities."
Q: You just mentioned Graham Gano. What was behind the decision to deliberately have him kick the ball short on the kickoffs the other day?
Judge: "Without going into too much depth for opponents, it was just something that ended up happening throughout the game. Sometimes we do that by design, sometimes we do it just by the way the ball comes off his foot. But Graham's a guy who has a big leg. He can put it through the back of the end zone or he can move it around the field and kind of place it up, let our coverage get down there and play, too. We do what we think is best for the team every time."
Q: This may be off the wall, but does it help develop a more aggressive mindset when you have a shorter kickoff, because the coverage team is not just jogging down the field knowing it's going to be another touchback?
Judge: "Yeah, there are times Graham might catch a ball and it goes as a touchback that we're not intending for it to travel as far as it can. He just hits a sweet spot. But look, I'm obviously a big believer in covering kicks. I'm a big believer in the kicking game having an impact in the game. We're not looking to take any plays off."
Q: You spoke this week about the early prep you did on the Eagles. Was that at all mitigated by the Eagles having so many personnel changes due to injuries? They have many different players than the ones you studied when you first looked at them.
Judge: "The personnel may change a little bit, but there are other guys that will be coming back. I think it's important to really study (head coach) Doug (Pederson) and what he's done throughout his tenure there. One thing he's done a phenomenal job of every year is they've always had to make a lot of personnel moves. They've been nicked up and banged up and they plug and play guys, whether it's the bigs up front or whether it's the skill players. They find a great way of really balancing out developing their players and getting them ready for game action. They don't have too much of a drop off no matter who's in the game. They're a very explosive team who can score points, and they're very good on third down, two minute and the red area, so we have to be very good in situational football this week."
Q: Is it safe to say when you talk to your players about them, you don't focus on the injuries but the fact that they came from 18 down in the second half and almost tied the score against Baltimore on Sunday?
Judge: "I think it's important to understand what kind of explosive team this is. This is a very good team. This is a very, very explosive and capable team. They're loaded on defense up front. They can really affect your running game, get after your passer. They have really aggressive and opportunistic defensive backs on the back end. They do a great job of stripping and punching at the ball creating turnovers. Offensively, whether it's the run game with explosive runs, the pass game, and that's throwing to the running backs, the tight ends or the receivers. They do a great job of that. They have a two-headed monster at the quarterback position with how they're using Jalen (Hurts) and getting him involved in the game. Carson (Wentz) can make throws anywhere down the field and he can extend plays and make plays down the field like we've seen time and time again, especially this last weekend with his legs. It doesn't matter who has the ball in their hands. Every player on this offense is explosive, every player on their defense plays with great effort, energy and technique. (Defensive coordinator Jim) Schwartz does a phenomenal job of getting his guys ready, that rush-crush-chase mentality in how they play."
Q: When Hurts is in the game, they average 10 yards a play. Does he present a much different look than Carson when he's in there?
Judge: "I think they just do a great job of using him how they're using him. I think both guys are very capable runners and passers. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jalen and what I know about this guy from his time in college, of not only what kind of leader he was on the field, but this guy won a lot of games in a very tough conference. He then went to another team through different circumstances and won games there as well. This guy is a winner through and through. You know when he's on the field, he's a competitor, and Carson is an excellent quarterback. You have to know who's on the field with the ball in their hands, but they do a great job of using both guys."
Q: (Defensive linemen) Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham have a combined 20 years in the league. Brandon had a couple of sacks last week. Are they still wreaking havoc up front?
Judge: "Absolutely. They're still two of the top players in the NFC. Look, Fletcher Cox on the inside, this guy is a wrecking ball. He plays with great effort. He's explosively strong and he's really instinctive. He knows how to get to the running backs or the passer in the backfield. He creates a lot of negative plays. Then Brandon Graham, this guy is just heavy at the point of contact. Here's the thing that people don't always realize unless you really watch the tape, this dude is powerful. When he leans on you and he drives through you, this man can move whoever he wants to. You have to really anchor and play strong against this guy. He's a phenomenal player. They play with great effort and energy, and they really set the tone for the defense."
Q: (Punter) Cameron Johnston is second in the league in gross average and fourth in net average. Is he a field-changer for them?
Judge: "Yeah, absolutely. The thing he does is he works very, very fast back there. It really helps (Dave) Fipp (the special teams coordinator) and negates a lot of the rush you can have on the punter. He does a great job of getting that thing out, and he has a big leg to boom it on down there. Dave's units have always played very, very aggressive and very productive. I have a world of respect for Dave and how his special teams play. I've gone against him personally numerous times. He always has his guys prepared, ready, they play with great technique, they're an aggressive rush team, and he's always been very productive in the return game, no matter who's back there. They have multiple capable players on their roster to take back those punts and kickoff returns."
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