Joe Judge is doing more than teach football to the New York Giants in his first training camp as the coach of a franchise that has fallen on hard times.
In a world learning to deal with the ever-present threat of coronavirus, Judge has been relentless in discussing safety and responsibility to his players and coaches.
As we have seen in baseball, a mistake here or there, can put either a team, or likely, multiple teams on the sidelines for more than a week.
When the Giants players and coaches reported to the teams last month, many were given the option of staying either in a team hotel or traveling back and forth from home to the team’s headquarters in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
There were no mandates everyone had to stay in one place, Judge said, noting the NFL is not requiring players and coaches be in a bubble-like atmosphere like the NBA and NHL.
Those who chose to stay in the hotels were given rules and curfews. The ones who went home are not free to do what they want.
“We express to the ones on the outside that they have to make the right decisions how they structure their nights,” Judge said Wednesday in a virtual call with the media.
“I’d say the biggest message I’ve had to everybody, whether it’s my coaches, the support staff and the players. It’s not about being in a bubble. That doesn’t exist. It’s about making the right decisions away from the building and making sure we don’t bring someone in the building.”
Judge said neither him nor anyone on the team has the right to go out to get something to eat and possibly bring back the virus to the team. It not only hurts the team, the impact might be felt around the league.
“Everyone’s working (the 32 teams) toward the same goal,” he added. “No one within this building is entitled to cut short the pursuit of that goal.”
Talking about seeing his team for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic knocked out organized team activities and camps for rookies and veterans, Judge said he was pleased with the energy the team has shown and its desire to improve.
“That’s all I ask for right now,” he said. “There’s an urgency to improve. There’s an urgency to learn. We’ve got a lot of guys that have reached out to coaches on their own for help.
“A lot of players are in meeting rooms doing extra together. You can see the things you want to go ahead and your culture coming together already. And that’s important. That’s got to sustain over the test of time. A few days together doesn’t solve all problems. But as far as the starting point, I’m very pleased with that in the direction that we’re going.”
Judge said offensive lineman Nick Gates, who signed a two-year extension after Nate Solder opted out of the season last week because of concerns about the virus, will be tried at tackle, guard and center. It was assumed Gates would battle veteran Cam Fleming for the right tackle spot and first-round draft pick Andrew Thomas would take over for Solder at left tackle.
Judge also said he is just looking for second-year quarterback Daniel Jones to show daily progress in a new system. Had it been the same system, Jones probably would have been asked to show a greater understanding of it.
The new coach said defensive tackle Leonard Williams, who is earning $16.1 million this season, is doing everything asked to heal a hamstring injury. It is not known whether he will be ready for the first practice.
NOTES: Cornerback Sam Beal became the third Giants player to opt out of the 2020 season. Beal joins starting left tackle Nate Solder and wide receiver Da’Mari Scott in choosing not to play this year. The deadline for players to opt out of the season is 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday.