Joe Judge will be the third-youngest head coach in the NFL at just 38 years of age. When it was announced he would be named the 21st head coach in the history of the New York Football Giants, the reaction ranged from disbelief to outright anger.
Judge was officially introduced as the Giants’ head coach Thursday. It didn’t take long to see what the Giants brain trust saw in him.
Judge has spent his career working under arguably the two greatest coaches of this generation: Alabama head coach Nick Saban and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Judge spent the past eight seasons on the Patriots’ staff as the special teams’ coordinator. The Patriots won three Super Bowls in that time. Judge was also an assistant on two Crimson Tide BCS National Championship teams.
“When you work with those guys, there’s always an opportunity to learn lessons,” Judge said. “There wasn’t a day I went to work that I didn’t come away with a full education. There are people who would pay to sit in meetings with them. What I learned from coach Saban was it’s important to address everybody not on what they have to do, but how it should look, what we’re going to do to get there and how it’s important.
“What I learned from coach Belichick was real simple: be flexible within your personnel. Don’t try to shove round pegs into square holes. Figure out what you have. Let them play to their strengths. Don’t sit in a meeting and tell me what you don’t have in a player. Tell me what they can do and then we’ll figure it out as coaches, because that’s our job: how we can use that.”
Being flexible with personnel is of the utmost importance. The last two head coaches, Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur, arrived at the Meadowlands with a particular scheme in mind and often unsuccessfully attempted to find the players to fit their scheme.
Judge also explained how his experience as a talent evaluator will benefit the Giants as they prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft. The Giants have the No. 4 overall pick.
“Leading into the draft, I studied every player in the draft as a player and athlete,” Judge said. ”I wanted to know how they moved. Stiff in the hips, straight-line speed guy, do they use their hands, what kind of short-area quickness do they have—I want to know what kind of athlete this guy is and can we use his skill set to our advantage.”
Judge spent a great deal of time discussing what his Giants are going to look like. He spoke of “discipline on the team” and “holding players accountable”. These phrases are very cliché and part of what new NFL head coaches say at their introductory press conferences but he did take some time to elaborate.
“What this team is going to look like…I want this team to reflect this area,” Judge said. “I want the people that pay their hard-earned money in the neighborhoods of New York, North Jersey, South Jersey to come to our games and know that the players on the field play with the same attitude they wake up with every morning. That is blue collar, it’s hard work, it’s in your face, we’re not going to back down from anybody, we’re going to come to work every day and grind it out the way they do in their jobs every day.
“And they can invest their money in our program known it’s worthwhile—they put a Giants uniform on, they put a Giants hat or jersey on—that it’s not representing just the 53 on the field, but it’s representing their neighborhoods, their communities and their families with the values that they instilled in their children.”