EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Judge's Chambers, Giants.com's weekly interview with Giants head coach Joe Judge:
Q: You're practicing here at the University of Arizona, where you hoped to work in a warm climate to better prepare you for playing Sunday in Los Angeles. But it's actually pretty cool out here.
Judge: "I'd say relatively speaking, it's warmer than it would be in Jersey. In terms of keeping our guys in good climate and having some warmth, they had some heat the other day going out on the field. We're definitely getting the experience of the desert climate, the hot, cold, and range of temperatures throughout the day."
Q: Did you conceive of this trip pretty soon after the schedule came out?
Judge: "Yes. When we looked at the schedule from the beginning, we knew we had a West Coast trip coming up. We knew we had some longer trips. We wanted to see how they coincided with each other. Any chance you get to eliminate some jet lag time on the players, you're going to look and go ahead and take it. I thought it's a good opportunity to get the guys out here, get together, get working together, and also save on some of the travel expense, talking about the expense on their bodies that is."
Q: You spoke specifically about why this is a good trip, and this is a good place. In general, did you make these trips when you were with the Patriots, and do you think it's good for the team to get away like this?
Judge: "I do. From my experience, I've been on a few of these trips as a team. We had a trip one year where we played the Packers at about this time of year. We were just coming off Thanksgiving, and we played the Packers in Wisconsin. Then, we came out to play the Chargers in San Diego. We stayed in San Diego for the week. Then, we had one in 2017 where we played on Sunday Night Football against the Broncos. We went down the next week and played in Mexico City against the Raiders. In both opportunities that we had, we stayed out in the location. From our experience, it's always been very beneficial and positive for the team and team building. It's always been good weeks of practice. It's a good opportunity to get the guys bonding together. It's a good opportunity to get the guys away from some of the noise that they get at home sometimes. They can set their mind back fresh and really enjoy the game."
Q: I know (linebacker) Blake (Martinez) is here. Did you bring basically everybody, even the injured reserve guys?
Judge: "We brought everyone who could travel. There's a number of guys who had to stay back for rehab reasons or where they are in their recovery. I would've loved to have Pep (safety Jabrill Peppers) and those guys out here. With where they're at in their recovery, they couldn't make the trip. That's unfortunate, but we had a couple guys, Blake being one and (cornerback) Darnay (Holmes) being the other, who aren't going to be involved at this point with the team but could make the trip. They wanted to be a part of the team."
Q: You have a lot going on with the quarterbacks. It looks like Daniel (Jones) is not going to play and Mike (Glennon) is in the concussion protocol. You have three other guys. The quarterback coach (Jerry Schuplinski) is still remote (because he tested positive for COVID-19). When you have that much going on at the most important position, do you just focus on what you have to do that day and worry about tomorrow when it arrives?
Judge: "You just control what you can control. We've been working in terms of virtual meetings remotely for some time now, so in terms of Jerry meeting with the quarterbacks virtually, that's really nothing new for us. We've got people following them around in practice with the iPads and the cameras, and Jerry is actually in the practice communicating directly with the players, watching the plays, seeing what's going on, and answering questions. So, we do our best in terms of what we can do with that. After practice, he can be directly linked in with the practice film and talk through corrections or different thoughts, so that's all very fluid. We've done that in the past with other coaches as well who have been removed for some period of time for COVID reasons. In terms of guys practicing and playing, we're getting everyone ready to play. It's our job, and that's the approach we're taking."
Q: Is it unusual to have five quarterbacks to work with at this point in the season?
Judge: "The volume of quarterbacks on the practice field, that's definitely something that's new. Normally, we don't have that many. But obviously Daniel's situation is uncertain, Mike's situation is uncertain, Jake (Fromm) is just joining the team, and (Brian) Lewerke being young and just learning his craft, as well as with Jake. Then, (Clayton) Thorson was one that we brought in because he's familiar with our program. He's been with us before. If something were to hit in terms of COVID that would eliminate Mike, Jake or Lewerke, I wanted to have somebody in here working with us. So actually Clayton is working remotely in terms of the meetings, but he's on the field with us in practice."
View photos from practice at the University of Arizona as the Giants prepare for their matchup against the Chargers.
Q: Mike Glennon received some criticism last week because the offense didn't get in the end zone. He stood his ground in the pocket when faced with pressure and made some good throws. What did you see specifically about Mike that you liked?
Judge: "It's everybody's responsibility to get in the end zone, it's not one player. But Mike did a lot of positive things last week that I thought gave us a chance. There are some things that we obviously have to clean up and do better, both individually and collectively. In terms of Mike, Mike stands in there. He looks to deliver an accurate ball. He's not afraid to take a hit. He's got a good presence at the line of scrimmage. There were a lot of different rush looks that we saw last week. Mike did a good job of controlling the protection, putting us in the right place, checking to the right beaters for certain coverages, and giving us an opportunity. We've got to do a better job collectively of making the plays in front of us and being productive."
Q: There's so much attention about Jake Fromm coming in and having to learn the offense very quickly. When you have a young guy come in during the middle of the season trying to learn the offense, do you want him to reach a certain level of confidence with the base stuff before you start working on situations like two-minute, goal line and third down, or do you try to give him a little bit of everything right up front?
Judge: "The answer is yes to both. You want him to be comfortable within your base concepts and things that are going to apply to the game plan. You want to really focus early on in the process on that. Then as you start building the situational things, they have to gain experience within two-minute, they have to gain experiences within different situations. Now, you want to go ahead and cater as much as you can to what they're comfortable with. But that's really no different than any quarterback or any player. We work our best to make sure that whatever we put in front of them, they can handle it. Some guys that are new to the program, you may reduce the volume or load that they're responsible for to a degree, and some guys can handle more. We'll see as the week goes on if Jake has to play and where we are with the game plan in terms of what we're going to ask him to do."
Q: In your initial 10-day impression of him, is he picking it up well?
Judge: "He's doing a good job studying with Jerry, (senior offensive assistant) Freddie (Kitchens) and the other coaches and is coming along. There are still a number of things that are new to him. You've got to make it as similar as it can be to the things he's comfortable with in his past, but he's done a good job coming along."
Q: (Cornerback) Aaron Robinson played every defensive snap in Miami. Obviously, that was due to (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) not being available. But we're talking about a rookie who missed camp and the first seven games (after undergoing core muscle surgery). For him to come on like that and be able to handle that much pretty quickly, what does that say about him?
Judge: "He's a good player. He's a developing player. He's a young player. He's got the right mindset, right motor and right work ethic. He's going to be a good player for us. You can see him getting better every week, getting more comfortable being out there. He definitely plays fast. He plays aggressive and physical, so we're pleased with the way he's progressing."
Q: Your rookie class as a whole, there's been some injuries, but every one of the draft picks have played. (Linebacker) Quincy (Roche) has contributed and (Defensive Lineman Raymond) Johnson (III) has contributed. To have eight young guys who have contributed, what does that mean to your program?
Judge: "I think that's the core principle of the program. We're going to develop all of our players, bring them along, and play them. We're not afraid to play anybody, regardless of age, experience, and how they got here. How you get into this building is totally irrelevant. It matters what you do when you get here. I'm very pleased with the young guys and how they're coming along. The guys in these first two years that we've been able to pick up through the draft, through waivers in free agency, and in training camp have all been guys that have made pretty good contributions for us. It's our job to keep working personnel and know who's available on the street and always go ahead and see if they will upgrade our team, but the development is the most critical part. You see it with young players. They've got to be able to come in and make some contribution early, but ultimately grow into their role and keep improving as the season goes along."
Q: Logan Ryan is the Giants' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee and James Bradbury is the team's Art Rooney Citizenship Award nominee. Can you talk about them as players, leaders and teammates? What are the similarities or differences between them?
Judge: "I think the similarities come into how they put the team first, and they show up to work every day. I think that's the thing that makes them leaders on this team. First off, to be a leader, you need to do two things. You need to put the team first, and you need to do your job at a high level. Those guys do both. To watch how they come in as older players in this program and set the tone for younger players in terms of how we practice and how these guys play through injuries, how they play with some discomfort, how they battle through adversity, or how they make a team-first decision, that's something that you want to be recognized for. Logan was chosen as a captain by his teammates, so that's, to me, the highest award. When your peers select you for something, that's an honor. James has been a good player in this league, he's been a good player for this team, and he plays the game with the right mentality, right mindset, and does things the right way."
Q: He's one of the most unflashy guys you can have, isn't he? He seems soft-spoken and quiet - is he different around the team and you?
Judge: "James' smile can light up a room. He's got a bigger personality than maybe you see sometimes, but he's also not looking to come in and be the loudest in the room. On the field, he lets his play talk."
Q: (Wide Receivers) Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are in the COVID protocol. You're preparing as if they're going to play, I assume?
Judge: "We expect both of those guys to play."
Q: You're not a stats guy, but when you look at the Chargers, they have a lot of numbers that jump out. (Quarterback Justin) Herbert has 27 touchdown passes, (running back Austin) Ekeler has 15 touchdowns, and Allen has 86 catches. It seems like when this offense is functioning well, it could be as productive as any offense you face this year.
Judge: "You have to understand how they attack it. It is a very, very talented quarterback who can make every throw. They've got a lot of very talented skill players, starting with Allen, Williams and Ekeler. Those are really the three top targets that account for, I think, 63 percent of all the targets on their team. You have to understand where these guys are because the quarterback has a comfort level with them. And schematically they set up situations to get them the ball."
Q: Is Herbert physically and stylistically much different than the guys you've faced the last two weeks (Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa)?
Judge: "I'd say as a big picture, yes, just in terms of play style. But I think there's a common trait in the three of those guys in how they compete, how they can use their skillset, and how they play to their strengths. Hurts' skillset is that he can throw the ball, but he can use his legs to make plays. He's not afraid to go ahead and do that. Tua is extremely accurate. He's making very good decisions very quickly. You can see that through the last five weeks for the Dolphins. You're looking at Herbert in terms of having a big arm, being tough in the pocket, extending plays, and pushing the ball downfield. He's definitely playing to that strength."
Q: This is a team that likes to go for it a lot on fourth down, with a high success rate. Does it put more pressure on your defense when they might go for it on fourth down at any time?
Judge: "You have to be aware of how they may play the game. But ultimately if they go for it on fourth down, we have to be ready to stop it."
Q: Defensively, they have (Joey) Bosa up front, (Kyzir) White at linebacker and (Derwin) James (Jr.) in the back. When you have a defense that has a star at every level, how difficult is that?
Judge: "They're extremely talented. They do a good job putting pressure up front, and they do a very good job in the back end of eliminating explosive plays. So between the pressure up front, how they play their secondary to match you, and being very aggressive to take opportunities for turnovers, it's a very dangerous team."
Q: Lastly, two guys on specials, (wide receiver) Andre Roberts likely is the best midseason pickup in the league this year, and (linebacker) Nick Niemann is kind of a prototypical sixth-round draft pick who came in and made his mark early on special teams. He's one of the top three in the league in special teams.
Judge: "Nick is a guy we liked out of draft last year. He plays with a high motor, and he moves very well. He's very productive and has good instincts. I've known Andre for a long time competing against him. You have to have a great respect for a guy that has his ability and his production, but then also the way he plays the game. This guy is a good teams player. He's the kind of guy who you want to compete against. He plays the game the right way, and he's very dangerous with the ball in his hands. We're talking all week about this guy, about how dangerous he is back there. He's very aggressive and makes the plays. Historically, this guy has been one of the best in the league for how many years counting back right now. When he's on the field, you have to be aware."