The initial glow of Joe Judge’s excellent introductory press conference as head coach of the New York Giants has begun to fade. The hard work of backing up those words and turning the Giants into a winning team is just beginning, and despite the optimism Thursday created there is no guarantee he can make that happen.
Still, as I think back on what we saw and heard on Thursday and a few of the things that have happened since, there are a few items worth discussing. So, here are 5 things I’m thinking about on this extremely warm Sunday here in upstate New York.
Judge never mentioned quarterback Daniel Jones by name on Thursday. Asked for his first impression of Jones, Judge didn’t give one.
“I have an outsider’s perspective. We have a lot of talent on this roster. It’s been assembled that way for a reason, I don’t want to sit here and try to give you expert analysis without having done my due diligence and homework to sit down and thoroughly investigate each one of these players,” Judge said. “They all have ability. I’m excited to work with every player on our roster.”
I just hope no one is reading that as “I’m not a Jones guy and we need to draft Tua or get another quarterback.”
I just read it as a guy who was reluctant to offer platitudes or empty praise without real study. I doubt that Judge — or any coach — would have taken the job without belief in Jones.
Steve Tisch’s role
It was interesting that Tisch, after saying when Pat Shurmur was fired, that he “would like to be more involved” and “will be here (Giants’ HQ) more physically,” really seemed to be a background player in the hiring of Judge.
Tisch was not present for the Monday meeting with Judge, though he did meet privately with him on Tuesday. He was also barely visible on Thursday. Tisch does have equal authority to Mara, but indications from this search would be that despite his earlier proclamation his more secondary role in the day-to-day isn’t changing.
I think Judge made terrific decisions by reportedly deciding to keep special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey and wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, who were both part of Pat Shurmur’s staff the past two seasons.
In my view, they were two of the best — maybe the two best — assistant coaches on Shurmur’s staff.
Both McGaughey and Tolbert seemed popular with and well-respected by players, and are veteran coaches who have filled their current roles for several teams. As a whole, Shurmur’s coaching staff was less than impressive. These two were not the reason.
Judge and analytics
The new coach wasn’t asked about analytics during his main press conference. During a side session afterward, he was. I did not initially see these remarks because I was in a group talking to John Mara at the time, but here is what Judge said when he was asked about analytics.
Here is what he said:
“I’ll tell you what, the analytics is more of a buzz word right now. I think everyone is doing a version of analytics already, using data to find trends in your opponent and self-scout and find a better way of doing things. I think if you use that along with teaching as well — now, it’s easier for us as coaches because we can tangibly see the outcome on Sundays and then see our final record at the end of the year. We can reflect back and find those trends.
“On a daily basis, you have to just kind of self-scout through practice as to what you’re doing, maybe it’s the loads you’re giving your team throughout practice, how you might have to push that forward, trim it back. If there’s a certain area you’re deficient in, why are you deficient, what can we adjust in order to correct that?
“So, I learned a lot — my mother is a principal of an elementary school and I actually reflect back on her a lot in terms of what her teachers are doing currently, how interactive they are with their students, what are some of their different methods. I watch my own kids come home from school and do their homework, very different from what I grew up doing, but it’s closer in age to the players I’m coaching than when I was in school. So, I learn a lot from my children and my mother when I talk to them about what’s going on at the lower level of education as to what I can do to help players right now.”
So, analytics is a “buzz word.” That sounds to me like a guy who wants the data to use as part of the whole picture, but who is more concerned about getting the hands-on teaching aspect of the job right.
Something learned from Belichick
I have probably written this already, but I have to mention it again. Perhaps the thing I have always admired most about Bill Belichick is the fact that he has never been married to a single scheme or philosophy on offense or defense. He has won with a variety of offensive and defensive styles. He’s won with great offenses and adequate defenses. He’s won with great defenses and adequate offenses. He’s willing to change from week to week or half to half based on what he sees as the best approach to win that game.
I have often wondered why more coaches and coaching staffs haven’t taken that to heart. Ben McAdoo knew one way — run ‘11’ personnel, throw quick passes. Pat Shurmur insisted on slamming one of the best in-space running backs in football up the middle over and over and over and was constantly criticized for being outmaneuvered by opposing coaches during games.
I like the fact that Judge will be a CEO not involved in the down-to-down play-calling. Perhaps what I like most, though, is what Judge has said about flexibility of approach and not being enamored with one way of doing things.
“Listen, we’re going to play whatever is best for our team and our personnel. 3-4, 4-3, man coverage, zone coverage, we’ll find out what fits us best and we’ll wait until we play against our opponents,” Judge said. “Running the ball, throwing the ball, it’s, again, whatever is best week by week by opponent is how we’ll address it.”