It’s not for everyone.
If Joe Judge’s last year and two days as Giants coach has shown us anything, it’s that his methods require a certain type of player personality to be successful. That’s why, while fans have been excited about additions to the roster to bolster the game in recent months, the most important process in making the Giants a success may be eliminating those who aren’t fully invested. in the plan.
Whether it was Golden Tate or Marc Colombo or, this week, Kelvin Benjamin, who decided he’d had enough before the first full practice of training camp began in earnest, Judge made it a point to prune any branch that tries to grow in a direction different from its vision.
That’s why nearly every Giants staffer has some lineage that can be traced back to New England or Alabama — more specifically, Bill Belichick or Nick Saban, the two big influences on Judge’s philosophy. That’s why many players who have been added to the team since Judge took over in January 2020 have similar roots and personalities.
The judge does not hide his methods.
“We’re not trying to make it an easy place,” Judge said. “We want to make sure we put as much pressure as possible on players in training, so that when they go into games they have faced a level of adversity and pressure that helps them perform better.”
It’s a system that works, as long as there are players who adhere to it. So far, the Giants have been able to keep more of these guys than the ones who can’t — or won’t — carry the judge’s flag for him. He has a locker room of young leaders in Daniel Jones, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard and Leonard Williams who not only seem to tolerate Judge’s rules, but also thrive under them. It’s one of the reasons he met Kenny Golladay for nearly three days before the Giants decided to invest in him as a free agent this offseason, to make sure he was that kind. belongs to nobody.
“He’s a tough coach,” Xavier McKinney said Thursday (out of Alabama, it should be noted). “He asks a lot of us, but we accept the challenge day in and day out. Sometimes it can be quite brutal, but that’s what it is. It’s not something I’m not used to or a lot of guys I used to… We love the process of going through it.
But there’s a countdown to how long such a culture can stick around without one very important ingredient. For Judge’s Way to work long term, the Giants must win.
It started to happen a bit late last year, but the clock is ticking now towards a time when wins need to become much more common than they have been with this franchise for the past decade. .
There is nothing wrong with taking the difficult path, but it must lead to greater success than the easy path. Something has to change with the team.
It won’t be Judge.
“Look, I’m always going to be me, I’m going to do it with my personality,” he said. “I think you have to do this or you’re just lying trying to be something else.”
The judge said he spent time this offseason considering how he treated players. He said he tried to listen to as many intelligent voices as possible, from sports psychologists to professional lacrosse and women’s basketball coaches to Navy SEALs, to better understand the best ways to reach this current group of Giants players.
“I don’t want to miss anyone,” he said. “One of the most important things we want to do is assess our team and make sure we don’t put somebody on the street who can help us win, who we assess badly because we can’t. not see through a nuance of personality to see what someone can really do.”
Despite Benjamin’s rebuke, which he voiced to the media complaining that the judge confronted him for not coming to camp at the weight the team wanted him to, cursed too much, and was an “I-know -everything” who has never interacted with him, Judge actually has a strong track record of listening to and understanding players. The coach who runs the players penalty rounds in practice is the same one who last year did rookie Derrick Dillon a ‘favor’ by removing him from the practice squad so he could to be at the birth of his child, the same coach who at minicamp last month saw Kadarius Toney cry in the locker room upon hearing that a close relative was ill and put him on the first flight home to be there with his family .
That’s why several players came to Judge’s defense in the face of Benjamin’s parting shots.
“He’s entitled to his opinion,” cornerback James Bradberry said. “I really think Coach Judge is tough. There’s a lot of pressure in our shoes, so I don’t expect him to give us our way all the time. A tough coach, that’s how you build structure, that’s how you build discipline, that’s what he’s building here.
As for the salty language, Judge made no apologies — “It’s a little different when you’re out there, kind of the warmth of the moment,” he said — but insisted that he and his staff never use these words on the players themselves.
“He’s very intense,” defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence said of Judge. “He respects us, we respect him…I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like him.”
At least not on the list.
Notes and quotes: Saquon Barkley remains on PUP, but he may be getting closer to rejoining his teammates. The running back recovering from a torn ACL looked much more active and explosive on Thursday than Wednesday, sprinting, cutting and shoving his way through intensive training with coaches on the backcourt while the rest of the Giants were training nearby. The Giants are slowing things down with Barkley, but Thursday’s display may have given them evidence he’s almost ready to go. . . First-round pick Kadarious Toney has yet to participate in training camp drills or rehearsals despite being removed from the COVID-19 roster/reserve earlier this week. “We’re going to keep bringing it up there [on the side with the trainers]”, Judge said. “We’ll take it day by day.” … Second-round pick Azeez Ojulari was the first giant in this camp to take a penalty lap around the field after making a mistake on Thursday. He was quickly followed by center Nick Gates and then a trio of delinquents – Daniel Jones, Alex Bachman and Brett Heggie – who toured together.