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Judge's Chambers: 'This is truly a one-game-at-a-time league'


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Judge's Chambers, a weekly interview with Giants coach Joe Judge exclusively for Giants Season Ticket Members:

Q: The Giants have been in the game in the fourth quarter in four of their five games. Do you have a sense that you're knocking on the door and once you go through it, you can really get on a roll? Or are you not a big believer in momentum and it's a one-game-at-a-time league. What are your thoughts about getting that first win and what it could do for your team?

Judge: "This is truly a one-game-at-a-time league. All of our focus right now is on preparing for Washington and putting everything into it and getting ready for Sunday. The guys have been working tirelessly, they've been doing everything we ask. They're working hard, they're very resilient. We have a tough group of guys. Look, we're just focused right now on improving as a team week by week. We've shown them a lot of visible evidence on video that you can see how we've progressed as a team. Obviously, there are things we have to clean up and do better, and they understand that. That's what we're coaching them to do and that's what they're working hard to execute."

Q: Both Jerry (Schuplinski, the quarterbacks coach) and you talked this week about Daniel (Jones) and his mental toughness, his work ethic, the progress he's making. But he is 23 years old, and he has not had the success that he has wanted. It's perfectly understandable if he is a little discouraged. Do you take his emotional temperature daily, weekly, to make sure he's not getting down and he's not taking these defeats as a personal burden?

Judge: "No, I think this guy comes to work every day with the same effort, attitude and urgency he does the day before. Look, whatever measure of success or measure of improvement you need to make, we all come in every day with that focus in mind. Daniel is no different. He does a great job every day of starting anew, absorbing the information that we're giving to him and going out on the field and practicing as best as he can."

Q: Jerry and Jason (Garrett) and you work closely with him. How helpful do you think it's been for Daniel to also have (backup) Colt McCoy, an older player who's also had some ups and downs in his career?

Judge: "I think Colt's a good player. He's been in this league for a long time, so there's a lot of experiences that he can share with really the whole group of skilled players and things he's been through. Again, Colt's working to be in our offense as well. He comes to work every day and he prepares and gets himself ready to play."

Q: Darius Slayton started the year with a big game, 102 yards and two touchdowns, 102 yards. Last Sunday, he had eight catches and 129 yards. In between, he had three three-catch games. Does he just need to be a little more consistent to maybe get to that next level of wide receiver?

Judge: "A lot of things happen in different games by different opponents and game plans. We're trying to keep all of our players involved in the game as much as can be. The emphasis is always get the ball to the open man. Sometimes it ends up being certain guys, sometimes it ends up being somebody else. But he's doing a great job right now working for us. We're pleased with the production he gave us last week. He's been working hard this week to continue going on and helping the team."

Q: When Marc Colombo spoke the other day, he said in regard to Andrew Thomas, 'We have to start taking leaps. There have been baby steps, and that's something we have to fix.' He did say Andrew is capable of being a dominating left tackle. Are you pleased with Andrew's progress? Does it need to be accelerated?

Judge: "Yeah, I'm very happy with how he works every day. We've seen improvement, we've seen a level of learning he's had to go through. At this point, we have a lot of young guys on the team who are making progress and helping us. We need to keep bringing them along and help improve this team."

Q: When the season started, the assumption was your outside linebackers most of the time would be Zo (Lorenzo Carter) and X (Oshane Ximines), and now they're both on I.R. and you've got Kyler (Fackrell) and Markus (Golden) coming up. On a very basic level, it seems you've traded athleticism for experience. Is that too simplistic a way to look at it?

Judge: "Yeah, I'd say that's too simplistic. Look, all four of those guys you just mentioned have unique skillsets and we use them in different ways. We also have other guys on our roster that bring things to the table. We have different ways of using our personnel from different positions to complement different packages we may have in by game plan. Everyone brings their own unique skillset to the table. We have to use them as best as we can."

Q: Markus Golden probably wasn't playing as much he would have liked early. He played a lot the other day. What was he like during those first four games?

Judge: "He was working really hard. That's what we asked of him and that's what he was doing. He was working hard to learn the system, get caught up with the team and do what he can to help the team win."

Q: The younger players behind them, Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin, they have yet to play a defensive snap. Are they ready to go if you need them this week?

Judge: "I think both guys have worked hard and have been productive in the kicking game. When their number is called on defense, we'll expect them to go out there and do their job."

Q: How much of a sense of security does a kicker like Graham Gano (who has four field goals of 50+ yards) give you as a coach, particularly when you're kind of in that grey area when you can go for it, punt or try a field goal?

Judge: "I'll tell you what, it's something in this league when you find a good kicker, it's important to recognize you have him and use him as a weapon. I think Graham has really done a good job for us. He's a vet, he has a lot of experience. He comes to work every day and he works his butt off, and that pays off in the games. This guy has been very consistent for us, he's done a tremendous job, he's fun to coach, he's fun to be around, the guys really respond to him, and obviously the other day, he came through on some long field goals and that was big for the team."

Q: A few questions about Washington. Any team that has Ryan Kerrigan listed as a backup on its depth chart must have a pretty good front seven. I know a lot of the attention goes to (Chase) Young and (Montez) Sweat on the ends, but (Jonathan) Allen and (Daron) Payne always seem to be in the middle of everything.

Judge: "They have a very, very talented front. For them, it all starts up front. We've seen a lot of teams like that this year. This team is extremely talented, maybe the most talented, and that says a lot. They have explosive players on the edge who can play with speed, they're athletic enough to counter and come back underneath. You have to protect and prevent these guys from their counter moves and double moves. Inside, obviously, there's the size. But it's not just the size of their D-tackles. It's really the athleticism and the short area quickness and power they can play with to shed single blocks, work through double teams, and keep pressing the pocket back into the quarterback. They've very, very talented up front. I don't care who you put in there. Whether it's the four that may be listed first on the depth chart or anybody else they have on their roster, they're all very, very capable players."

Q: (Jon) Bostic and (Kevin) Pierre-Louis are their two leading tacklers. They've made a lot of plays. What do you see in those two linebackers?

Judge: "These are two athletic linebackers. Pierre-Louis brings a real explosive element of speed to him, and Bostic has some athleticism in short space. He does a good job of seeing and diagnosing and playing around blocks and inserts where he needs. They play with a good aggressive mentality on their second level, whether that's their linebackers or whether that's (Landon) Collins coming up and playing along the line of scrimmage. Where they recognize run, they'll plug right away, and they really do a good job. When they see pass, they're athletic enough to react, get back and sink into their zone drops. This team does a good job."

Q: Their leading rusher is Antonio Gibson, a third-round rookie. Not a big name but he's really done a lot of good things. What kind of runner is he?

Judge: "He's a tough runner. This guy is tough to tackle. He really does a good job playing through arm tackles, runs physical, he has good vision and instincts, he knows how to extend the plays by getting on the edge of the defender and really just driving and getting more yards after contact. This guy is a very savvy player. He may be a young player in the league, but this guy brings a lot of experience, obviously, through what he's done in his lifetime to get here. He's not new to the position."

Q: You talked yesterday about (Terry) McLaurin and his ability to turn a short pass into a long gain. Do your defensive backs have to be very cognizant this week of keeping him in front and not letting him get past them after he catches a short pass?

Judge: "We have to do a good job of tackling in space. That's a reason they've made a ton of plays. This guy is extremely gifted. He's an explosive speed player who does a really good job of getting open. But they have a lot of other weapons as well, and you can't fall asleep on them. (Tight end Logan) Thomas, and you can't fall asleep on (wideout Dontrelle) Inman and those guys. They make a lot of plays themselves. This is a dangerous team in the red area. But out in the field, you really have to be alert for the catch and run type plays."

Q: Ron Rivera, like you, kept the special teams coordinator who was with the team when he was hired, Nate Kaczor. In the fraternity of special teams coaches, how highly regarded is Nate and how well do you know him?

Judge: "I know Nate very well. Like you said, it's a very tight knit group. There's only 32 in the world, so I've known Nate for some time. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach from going against him. I enjoy when we get to Indianapolis during the Combine talking some ball with him and sharing some ideas. He's a good person, he's a good family man. He's a tremendous coach. I have a ton of respect for Nate. His teams always play hard and they play very well prepared."

Q: Their punter, Tress Way, had a 46-yard net average on 10 punts last week. What kind of impact can a punter like that have on a game?

Judge: "It's field position. Not only is he a big leg guy, but he's extremely fast with his operation. That's something that, you can try to rush him, he's made a career of beating the rushes. You can try to sit back and return it, he's going to give you a long punt with a lot of hang time. They have extremely talented gunners who get down the field fast. You have to do a good job of trying to get in front of them and give your returner a chance to get started. But this team right here, they have two big leg specialists with Way and (Dustin) Hopkins, and they do a tremendous job of flipping the field all the time."

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