EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Judge's Chambers, a weekly interview with Giants coach Joe Judge exclusively for Giants Season Ticket Members:
Q: I asked you early in the season about your approach to the team and you said you always try to be the same person. Now we're playing a December game between division leaders with a clear path to the playoffs. Are you still taking the same approach with the team? Or has it changed, perhaps to show the players there's a greater sense of urgency?
Judge: "No, I think we start out and we do everything with a great sense of urgency. You don't ever have to feel like you have to change in that. But no, I try to be the same person every day. It doesn't mean I'm always in the same mood or the same temperament, but everyone knows who I am and what I'm about. I try to be that person every day for everyone so there's consistency with those guys. If you try to ride the emotional rollercoaster, guys don't really know what to expect. I'm just trying to be myself and that's all I really can do for this team."
Q: Doing things remotely or virtually has become commonplace. But if someone had told you the day you were hired, "Coach, we don't want players in the locker room, lunchroom and meeting rooms, and most of your meetings will be remote." You probably would have said, "that's never been done before, there's no way that can work." But it has worked. Does it surprise you at all?
Judge: "No, I think our approach is always we're going to figure it out whatever it is that comes our way. Whatever the challenge is, our job is to meet it head on and find a better way to do it than the competition. I'd say our guys started this thing out strong in the spring when we were completely virtual. We didn't make any excuses and we didn't try to find some way to circumnavigate what we were trying to accomplish and get installed. We weren't going to go ahead and minimize any amount of the material or the time we were going to spend on it. We went full tilt in the spring and made sure we mastered everything from program-building stuff to working with interpersonal relationships, into getting into the X's and O's installed football wise. I think it's all carried over, that our guys are used to working virtually. Ideally, you want to have players in-person, you want to have that camaraderie with the team, you want to build a lot of things. But the reality is that's not the way it is right now. We are not in a unique situation. Everyone is dealing with the same obstacles. We just have to do a better job than everybody else."
Q: It's not often you have the opportunity to watch the live telecast of your next opponent, which you did this week because Seattle played Monday night. You have said sometimes you can see things on a telecast that you don't see on tape. Did you get to see a lot of the game and if so, was it beneficial?
Judge: "It was beneficial, and I watched the entire game on Monday night. We kind of actually had some meetings going on virtually with the coaches, and we had the game on in the background and we were talking through some different things that were happening as we were kind of knocking off some other things getting ready for Wednesday's practice and the game planning part of it. But look, it's beneficial anytime you get a chance to get a different perspective on what the team's doing. The coach's copy shows you certain things. There's no volume, it shows you all 22, gives you great views of it. Then the TV copy kind of gets you a little more up close and personal, and there's just something to see in guys, how they talk on the sideline and react on the sideline, seeing the tempo of the game, that real-time speed as opposed to just looking at the coach's copy and just identifying 'this must have been a tempo play.' There are a lot of things you see, a lot of the details you can pick up. We try to watch the TV copies as much as we can. But to be honest with you, you can't watch every single play of every TV copy all the time, so it really was beneficial to be able to watch that game the way we did, especially knowing the Eagles, so you have a reference point of how different guys match up against familiar opponents."
Q: When you look for a backup quarterback as you did after you were hired this past offseason, is the first thing you ask, "can this guy go in and win a game or games for us?" Whether the answer to that is yes or no, what did you specifically like about Colt McCoy?
Judge: "The answer is definitely yes. Any player you bring on the roster, period, the object is to help your team win games. Look, I've known Colt through the league for some time now. He's a competitor, he has a lot of experience he draws on. But he's a gritty dude that finds a way to get it done. We love having Colt in this program. We have a lot of confidence in him. We're working on getting Daniel healthy right now and getting Colt prepared. But it's all hands-on deck every week for us. Whoever has to play whatever role, we expect to have results and production."
Q: I know you're not a stats guy, but if you look at Blake Martinez's numbers and Bobby Wagner's numbers, they're almost identical. They both have 101 tackles, Wagner has one more solo, one sack, they both have six tackles for losses. Do you look at them as kind of similar players, whether it's their skillsets or what they do for their team?
Judge: "I think they both bring impact for their team from a leadership standpoint, as well as production. I don't think you want to try to compare those guys as the same type of player skillset wise, but they both have obviously had a lot of production, they play very instinctive, they're tough players, and they've both seen their share of time in this league. Blake's younger than Bobby, but both guys have been productive. We have a tremendous amount of respect for Bobby Wagner. I think everyone in the league does. This guy has been a tremendous player for some period of time now."
Q: Kyler Fackrell went on IR this week, the third outside linebacker to go on IR. You've got (Jabaal) Sheard, (Trent) Harris, and the young guys, (Cam) Brown and (Carter) Coughlin. You talk a lot about next man up, but it seems at that position it has really come into play this year. You've talked about the importance of depth. Is that especially true at that position right now?
Judge: "Yeah, that's the reason we coach every player on the team all the time. We're always trying to develop everybody to improve us as a team. Again, everyone is responsible to know what to do in the game, and they're responsible to execute when their number is called. That position has done a good job this year of kind of moving a lot of guys in. We've gotten production from a number of guys. Bret (Bielema) does a great job with his players of keeping them ready and prepared and mentally in-tune to the game. We don't want to see anybody hurt. Kyler's out, obviously, working his hardest to make sure he gets back. In the meantime, until we get him back, we'll have a number of guys that will give us production on that part of it."
Q: The rookies, Brown and Coughlin, you've talked about them a little bit. But are they prepared for a bigger role if need be now?
Judge: "Yeah, if need be, we're going to play everybody in there at all times and give them an opportunity to get in there and make plays for us. Those guys have been working hard, along with Niko (Lalos), along with Trent Harris, we have a number of guys and the other backers inside as well. Devante (Downs) and (David) Mayo, these are guys that all play a variety of roles for us and have done a good job of responding to game plans week in and week out."
Q: Saquon (Barkley) spoke publicly this week for the first time since he was injured. Just curious with Saquon and even the other guys that are sidelined long-term, like Lorenzo (Carter) and X (Oshane Ximines), and even the guys who might come back like Devonta (Freeman), Ryan Lewis, how often are you able to check up on those guys and get a progress report on those guys and speak to them if you can from time to time?
Judge: "The trainers constantly give us reports on these guys and how they're doing and how they're progressing in their treatment and rehab, like we do with all of our players on our team. They are in the building, they are working. We kind of stagger the hours a little bit to thin out the numbers with the COVID protocols, but I have been able to see Zo and X and some other guys that are working to get back, and Saquon. Obviously, it's not as often as you'd like, and obviously, you'd prefer to have them on the field playing, but they're all working really hard to get back. Tremendous amount of respect for the attitude they've had the entire way. These guys have really been receptive to the medical team and the trainers and are doing everything they're asked to do to the best of their ability."
Q: Logan Ryan is the team's nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award nominee. It's given to the guy who best demonstrates the qualities of outstanding sportsmanship on the playing field, including fair play, respect for opponents and integrity in competition. You've talked about Logan. He's obviously a very good player. You have known him since he came into the league. Would you talk about the kind of person he is?
Judge: "He's just a phenomenal person. He's always been very direct, very honest. He's just a genuine person. He doesn't have a lot of time for fluff. He's going to look you in your eye and tell you what he thinks, and that's really what you ask of a man. But he's a guy that puts his team first. He does a lot of things in the community that he keeps very quiet because he's doing it for the right reasons, not for some kind of public acknowledgement. He has a tremendous wife, a tremendous family behind him. I think that says a lot about him, obviously, the people he's closest to and what kind of people they are. From knowing the guys that he's closest with on this team and other teams, they're always guys that are very high character. I think that rubs off on the guys on our team. He's a great vet to have in our locker room. You talk about guys who can lead by example. He's definitely a guy who comes in every day and works his absolute hardest. He empties the tank, and we couldn't ask for anything more from him."
Q: Next week, Dalvin Tomlinson will be announced as the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. Just a few words on Dalvin. I guess he possesses a lot of the same qualities as Logan.
Judge: "Yeah, you're kind of talking about the same kind of guy. It's tremendous to have multiple players on your team like that. Dalvin's a guy who he really puts the team first and he puts his priorities outside of this building in the right order. Again, he's another guy who comes from a very strong background in terms of making the right decisions, doing the right things and who he surrounds himself with. He really rubs the right way on the guys in the locker room. He's a leader, he knows how to put his arm around a guy and pull him aside and talk to him. He's also not afraid to tell a guy directly in front of someone when they have to go ahead and pick it up. He's able to do that because of the way he works on a day in and day out basis, and because of the kind of strong character he possesses, guys trust him."
View photos from Giants practice as they gear up for Week 13 vs. Seattle.
Q: If you look at the Seahawks, they're very good at scoring early in each half or late. They're a good two-minute team, they score off turnovers, good first down team. Is this a very complete offense in your estimation?
Judge: "Yeah, absolutely. There's a reason this is the top scoring team in the NFL. They have an absolutely great quarterback, and he's complemented by some of the most dynamic receivers in the game. I'm talking about (DK) Metcalf and (Tyler) Lockett and (David) Moore and what those guys can do down the field with the ball in their hands. He has a lot of really talented tight ends, from (Greg) Olsen to (Jacob) Hollister and those guys. They can really do a number on you in the passing game. Then he's got strong, aggressive, downhill runners and he has a big, powerful offensive line. You talk about that as an offense, that's a pretty complete offense right there. They can run the ball when they want to, they can throw the ball at will. I think (Brian) Schottenheimer is doing a great job of really mixing up the calls. He's creating plays for his players. He's also giving Russell (Wilson) the opportunity to improvise and really to play to their strengths. It's no accident that they've had a lot of success, and it's no accident that they're a top offense in the league. We have a tremendous amount of respect for this team. It's going to take everything we have. Going out there to Seattle, it's going to be a very tough game. But we're preparing every day the best we can to get out there and do our best."
Q: Metcalf leads the league with 12 30-yard receptions. When you played the Rams, you said Aaron Donald was a guy who can ruin your birthday party in a hurry. Is Metcalf an offensive party-ruiner?
Judge: "He's definitely in that category. This guy is one of the top players in the league for a reason. He's truly dynamic. He's a big play every play. You have to know where he is at all times. You can't count on one guy to take care of him. You have to give help. This guy is just a great competitor. There are not a lot of people in this world walking around who are physically as gifted as him and who can also go out there and make the plays with the skill level he has. Tremendous amount of respect."
Q: Their defense is ranked low, but I would think that's misleading, especially since they got (Carlos) Dunlap. They have 19 sacks in the last four games. Do you see them playing a lot better defensively the last month or so?
Judge: "Yeah, statistics are really irrelevant with that. You turn the tape on, you know what kind of team this team is. Obviously, Pete (Carroll) does a great job getting his team going. Him and Ken (Norton) put this defense together. Their players play aggressive, they play fast. It starts upfront with really how their defensive line can vertically penetrate and disrupt your passing game and run game. They do a tremendous job on the backend of really playing with awareness in how they need to play. They have those long, strong corners. They have some good speed in the backend, and they have two extremely good linebackers. Look, this is a very, very productive team. They do a great job. They're hitting their stride at the right time. Yeah, you can take those statistics and throw them out the window. They're irrelevant."
Q: Lastly, you mentioned their special teams this week. To my untrained eye, it looks like (kicker Jason) Myers and (punter Michael) Dickson are really the guys that stand out. Dickson is having a really good year, and Myers is the only kicker with a longer consecutive success streak than Graham Gano. It looks like they're both playing well.
Judge: "Yeah, both very, very talented guys. Both big-legged guys. Not only big legs, but they can pin you down there close. They can force the kickoff returns by placing the ball on the one-yard line or the goal line and making you return it if they want to. Or they can bang it out of the back of the end zone if they want to go ahead and have a touchback. Dickson, his plus-50 punting is as good as it gets. He'll hit that midfield zone going towards the end zone. You just have to go ahead and factor and account that, hey look, their offense is good, it's going to move the ball. They have a very talented punter. You're going to start your offensive possession several times in the game really inside the 15-yard line. That's just the nature of what it's going to be against this team, so you better get your mind right and understand what you're going into."
Q: For a long time, when teams won the coin toss, they took the ball. Now it seems whoever wins the coin toss defers. Why do you think that's changed? Why do you like to defer?
Judge: "There are different reasons for every game, so there's not one specific reason. You see a lot of teams, what they try to do is get the ball at the start of the second half and see if they can't double up on the scores in a lot of ways. The points before the half, the points to start the second half, a lot of teams take that approach on it. Look, there are different times you want to take the ball and either start strong or aggressive with your offense. Maybe sometimes it has to do with the elements outside you're playing with. There are different reasons you want to go ahead and either kick off or receive or defer. I can't speak for every other organization. While there are multiple reasons we may want to defer in specific games, we have different strategies every game. It just so happens that the few we've won, we've selected to defer."
View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks.