EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Judge's Chambers, a weekly interview with Giants coach Joe Judge exclusively for Giants Season Ticket Members:
Q: Coaches like to say, 'there's no better coaching and learning opportunity than a game." Now that you finally have your players on tape in live action, how important is that this week as a teaching tool?
Judge: "It's huge, because it's the first time we were able to go out against foreign competition and really get a taste of different schemes, different concepts, and see our players in true, full-speed game action. I think some things held up. I think our players are in good condition. That being said, there's not a team in the league yet that's in full game condition. I think everybody at this point, including ourselves, are working to get in that full, 60-minute game condition. That's definitely a focus of ours. We have to make a lot of improvement going forward from Week 1 through the course of the season. But I'm pleased with the energy and urgency our players played with. They've been out there, we've had two good days right now of working, building into the Bears. Eager to get out there on the field today and work with them."
Q: You said yesterday that playing quarterback in the NFL is the toughest job in sports. And you spent eight years watching Tom Brady up close. As you try to develop Daniel (Jones), you've worked with Brady, as has (quarterbacks coach) Jerry (Schuplinski), Jason (Garrett) worked with Tony Romo and Dak Prescott - can you point out things that you saw these quarterbacks do as a way to help teach Daniel?
Judge: "I don't think there's any merit in really comparing any two guys publicly. But there are things you learn from being around some guys who are very accomplished in what they do. Everyone is obviously unique in their own skillset and approach to the game and also within the system we're working. But, obviously, things that Jason can take from his own experience in that system, working with other guys, things that myself or Jerry can take from working with guys who we've had experience with over the last eight years, we'll share with the quarterbacks. We're always trying to make sure we give them the opportunity to learn from other peoples' experiences. But ultimately, they have to get on the field and figure out for themselves in terms of how they have to do it. You can't carbon copy any players. There are always lessons to learn. We watch a lot of league tape, we go through a lot of situations in terms of how things are handled around the league. It's important our guys see what other people have done, both successfully and unsuccessfully, and learn the lesson before they have to make a mistake."
Q: You talked about how Daniel stood in there and how tough he was. When people talk about the attributes they look for in a quarterback, it's arm strength, intelligence, reading defenses. Where do you rank toughness among the qualities you look for in a quarterback?
Judge: "I've said over and over, we want to be a smart, tough, fundamentally sound team. I think with the quarterback, who has to be the focal point of really getting everyone going on the offense because he touches the ball on every single play, toughness is obviously a key attribute that they have to have. Daniel has demonstrated that to us repeatedly, mentally and physically being tough. He works tremendously hard in the classroom. He carries that same work ethic over onto the field. This guy battles through any adversity that comes his way, and I think it's just really put on tape as evidence. You watch him the other day playing against a tremendous defense (vs. Pittsburgh). He took some hard shots. He never backed down. This guy wasn't throwing off his back foot. He was standing in there and delivering strikes. We talked to him about how he had to play aggressively, and he definitely did that on the field. I'm proud of the way he played."
Q: Pittsburgh was very blunt that their priority on defense was stopping Saquon (Barkley) and pressuring Daniel. This is a copycat league, so given what transpired, do you expect future opponents to emulate that until you can be consistently productive against that?
Judge: "I don't think there's any opponent we're going to play in the entire league that doesn't go into a game with the approach of stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback. I think that's just a universal principle everybody has to have. With a guy like Saquon, that's not going to be any different. All of our backs, Saquon, Dion (Lewis), Wayne (Gallman), are all capable with the ball in their hands. Obviously, this is a quarterback-driven league in a lot of ways, so you have to put pressure on the guy with the ball every play. We don't expect anything different for the rest of the year. We're focused internally on what we have to do to improve going forward. Obviously, this game plan is different than last week's game plan. But we have to make sure we approach it with the principles of getting all aspects of our offense, defense, kicking game going in the right direction."
Q: After the linemen and Daniel, Evan Engram played the highest number of snaps of any offensive player. After a camp with high expectations, he had a quiet night. What happened there and is he a guy you need to get going?
Judge: "He's working tremendously hard and I can't wait to get him on the field this Sunday."
Q: Two rookies played a lot. (Andrew) Thomas played every snap and Darnay Holmes played 47. You were asked about Thomas, How did Darnay play?
Judge: "I thought Darnay learned a lot of valuable lessons the other night. Look, he had an extremely tough matchup going against one of the top receivers in the league with JuJu (Smith-Schuster). But he battled, he played tough, he made some good plays for us. There are some valuable lessons you can only get from being in game action like we talked about earlier. But I'll tell you what, one thing about Darnay is he has a lot of resilience. He's a mentally tough dude. He's a guy who's shown improvement every day in practice, and he's a guy we expect to improve game by game throughout this season."
Q: Everybody played on defense. You used a lot of combinations, front and back. Is that going be a hallmark you think of your defense, multiplicity?
Judge: "No one's getting a free trip to stay in the hotel. If you're on the work trip, we expect you to come work."
Q: Playing in an empty stadium, did Daniel have to change the way he called plays? Or when a coach instructed players from the sideline, did they have to change how they did it in a silent atmosphere?
Judge: "I'm going to be honest with you, we didn't have to adjust too much. There are obviously things we're talking about going forward and what different environments may be. I thought the atmosphere of the game itself, the feeling from our sideline at least, there was a lot of energy, there was a lot of intensity, the players are very into it. There was nothing that kind of, whatever you want to call it, the pumped-in crowd noise, whatever it was, I didn't feel like it was a situation where you could just hear everything being said on the field at all times from either sideline or either team. There was a feel to it. I can say this, when you're on the sideline, you're really zeroed in, especially when you're on the field, you're really zeroed in on the people on the field. You don't really notice as much of what's going on around you. But to answer the question, are there adjustments we always consider and are able to make? Absolutely. But that's whether it's a full stadium or an empty stadium."
Q: Without Golden (Tate), you also had (C.J.) Board and (Damion) Ratley out there for the first time. What did you think of their performances?
Judge: "Damion is obviously just getting with us for a short time. He's making a lot of growth in this offense, and we're going to keep building on his role going forward. C.J. is a guy who's made a lot of plays for us through training camp. He has a very explosive skillset that we're going to look to really incorporate going forward. I was very pleased with the way he came out and the urgency and intensity he played with."
View photos of Thursday's practice as the Giants gear up for their first road game of the season in Chicago.
Q: A comeback like the Bears had last week, scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat Detroit, do you think there could be carryover momentum from that? Is that something your team has to be aware of going into Sunday's game?
Judge: "I'm not a big believer on momentum, to be honest with you. I think every play has its own history and life based on how you execute on that play. Every game has its own existence in terms of how you operate in that game exclusively. It's amazing. As far as momentum, that kind of stops when that game is over. Maybe some emotional ties may carry over from game to game, but ultimately, it's a different opponent, it's a different week of preparation, and all that's going to matter for any team in this league is how they play on any given Sunday."
Q: You spoke very highly of (Mitchell) Trubisky yesterday. What do you see in him? They had a quarterback competition and he emerged, and then he had that big comeback the other day.
Judge: "It's not my job to pick who their starting quarterback is. But I know with Mitch on the field, this guy presents you with a lot of issues. He obviously can throw the ball down the field, he has a good arm. But this guy makes a lot of plays with his feet, whether it's tucking and running the ball or whether it's some of that quarterback keep type stuff they design for him, moving the pocket in the passing game or just extending plays in the passing game. He's elusive, he's a tough runner, he's strong. We really have to do a good job tackling this guy. He breaks a lot of tackles in the pocket and extends a lot of plays. He's similar but different to Ben (Roethlisberger) with the extended plays. But this guy is really a weapon for them, and you have to have a lot of respect for this guy on the field."
Q: They have a lot of talent at running back and wide receiver, but they really upgraded their tight end group it seems with (Jimmy) Graham, (Demetrius) Harris and (Cole) Kmet. Graham is the only one who caught a pass the other day, but do you see that as a position group that they've upgraded this year?
Judge: "I'll tell you what, their entire roster on offense is very explosive. They have the three backs (David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Ryan Hall). They're all very different, but they're all very explosive, very capable players. The tight ends are the same thing. They're different, but each one has a skillset that gives them dynamic ability. Then all the receivers, at any point, they're a homerun threat. Their tight end position, you have to be aware of not just is there a tight end on the field, but who is on the field and how they're going to use that guy. Jimmy Graham has been a really good player in this league for some time now. He has size, he has that good, long speed when he gets those legs moving, those long strides, he has good hands. This guy, you have to be aware of where he is, especially situationally on a third down, red area, two-minute, those things right there. Obviously, when Jimmy Graham is on the field, you better be aware."
Q: Defensively, you're going from the team that allowed the fifth-fewest points in the league last year to the team that gave up the fourth-fewest points. Are there schematic similarities between Pittsburgh and Chicago defensively?
Judge: "I think you can draw some similarities with any two teams in this league. I think the biggest thing that stands out is, obviously, the impact their front really brings and how opportunistic their backend is. There are dynamic edge rushers on both sides. They have the size that pushes inside with (Akiem) Hicks and those guys. They have good, solid linebackers. But their DBs with (Eddie) Jackson and (Kyle) Fuller, if you make a mistake, they're looking to make you pay for it. They make a lot of plays. It starts in the frontend, and they're opportunistic on the backend. There are a lot of similarities between the two in that."
Q: You talked early in training camp about if the players didn't have numbers on their jerseys, the coaches should be able to identify the players. I was wondering, if the Bears did not wear numbers in a game, could you pick out Khalil Mack pretty quickly?
Judge: "I could pick him out in gym shorts walking down the street. You're going to know who Khalil Mack is."
Q: Is he that noticeable on the tape as you watch him?
Judge: "Absolutely. You need to know where this guy is on the field. He's not hard to find. This guy is an explosive player, he's very dynamic, plays with a tremendous motor. He's very active to the ball, makes a lot of disruptive plays with strip sacks, chase down plays, pressures on the quarterback. He has great effort and hustle when the ball goes down the field to chase and pursue and make plays from behind. Look, this guy is one of the top players in the league for a reason. You have to know where he is. With (Robert) Quinn on the other edge, that's another guy you have to account for at all times. This guy is bendy and twitchy. He has a great motor. Obviously, he had great success when he was in Dallas. Those two guys on the edge present you with a lot of problems."
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Chicago Bears.