Joe Judge taking no prisoners in Giants culture shock
He resembled a masked Big Blue bear wearing long white sleeves, prowling from this drill to that drill, growling when he saw something he didn’t like.
He interrupted one drill to drop more than a few F-bombs on laggards in the secondary, he ordered laps for players and coaches who failed to do things in what is now expected to be The Giants Way.
Welcome to Camp Detail.
Camp All Ball.
Joe Judge is the new sheriff in town, all right, and everyone knows it.
The Giants needed a culture shock to change the culture — and Joe Judge is giving it to them in spades.
You don’t win NFL football games in a country club environment. Joe Judge comes straight from the Bill Belichick Football Factory and he is methodically and painstakingly erecting one in East Rutherford.
He cuts an imposing figure in a Bill Parcells kind of way, is able to command a room as wide as the great outdoors, a teacher and a drill sergeant at the same time, never forgetting the priceless lessons he learned under Belichick, specifically what a football team is supposed to look like, behave like and ultimately play like.
And similarly why there is no need, only 28 days before the opener at home against the Steelers, for names on the back of jerseys.
“We know who they are,” Judge said. “To me it’s important to know who the players are on the field across from you and by their body type and how they move, more so than having to see nameplates to identify your teammate. We should know each other as coaches and players by how we move, the way we carry ourselves. The numbers and name stuff, we’ll do that on game day.”
Saquon Barkley could not remember the last time he witnessed penalty laps.
“I always thought I was a detail guy,” Barkley said, “but now I’ve got to be even more the way that we’re being coached, which is great. We’re really focusing on being a detailed team and holding each other accountable, and the little things matter. It comes with the territory.”
Joe Judge’s territory: “There’s consequences on the field for making mistakes. In a game it costs 5, 10 or 15 yards.”
Every so often, as Belichick does during games, Judge would jot down a note. From practicing in the morning on Monday and then scheduling one in the evening on Tuesday to facilitate conditioning and recovery, no stone is left unturned.
Judge doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head, but he doesn’t seem to miss a thing. He made it a point to visit briefly with Daniel Jones during calisthenics, otherwise he left his franchise quarterback in the experienced hands of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Joe Judge is the CEO the Giants have missed since Tom Coughlin left the building.
Step-by-step, practice-by-practice, Judge is building to a physical, emotional and spiritual crescendo. Time is of the essence, and every single minute must be maximized.
Judge is the conductor, and his practice is designed to be a symphony.
“Everybody knows where to go so we don’t waste any time,” Sterling Shepard said.
Judge is hardly the first head coach who wants his players to play fast, physical and smart. “Team Tempo,” he barked before one drill. But this head coach has made them all understand in no uncertain terms that the ones who fail to play that way won’t play.
“We’re moving at a rapid speed,” Shepard said.
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Drills were staggered enough for Judge to watch Jones and the first team run a play and quickly turn around to watch another group.
“Our players understand there’s a purpose in everything we’re doing,” Judge said.
The snap, crackle and pop of pads popping for the first time filled the air, refreshing sights and sounds to the rookie head coach who is hellbent on fielding a blue-collar team, New York Tough and New Jersey Tough, resilient and resourceful, that will make metropolitan-area fans proud again.
“It was great to get out there and get the pads popping a little bit,” Barkley said.
Barkley, his high ankle sprain a distant memory, broke a touchdown run. Evan Engram and Corey Coleman are healthy again. Jones looks like he could bench press Eli Manning. And when it was over, Judge huddled under the blue sky with John Mara for a while. Mara, of course, was wearing a mask. He was surely smiling underneath it.
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