4. Fundamental football
The focus on fundamentals was a quintessential part of Joe Judge’s introductory press conference. In fact, if one were to go back through and count the number of times that he used the word fundamentals, they would likely find it was one of the most referenced words of the new coach.
In a telling statement, Judge said “you cannot get by with some sort of magic scheme or new gimmick, or think you reinvented the wheel. The same things win football games that have always won football games. It’s fundamentals.”
In an era where teams are quick to find the flash in the pan new offensive scheme that takes the league by storm, only for defenses to eventually figure the scheme out and have it fizzle out, never to be seen again, Judge’s reference to playing old school fundamental football is refreshing.
The NY Giants currently have a good young core of talent on their roster and should improve drastically during the offseason via the draft and free agency. However, what they lacked under former head coach Pat Shurmur were the fundamentals that it takes to win a football game.
Too often under Shurmur, young players seemed to lack the fundamental skills needed to show positive progression. The same could be said about high-priced veteran players such as Nate Solder, who led the team in sacks allowed. Shurmer and his staff seemingly never instilled the fundamentals needed to improve upon and overcome the mistakes that were occurring on a weekly basis.
In a comment that seemed to draw the ire of some former NFL players and media members, Judge suggested that the Giants would be practicing regularly in full pads and partaking in live tackling drills to assure that the team is fully prepared for real-game situations.
While the current NFLPA collective bargaining agreement dictates exactly how much live tackling and full padded practicing a team can do, the message of Judge’s comment should not be overlooked. He wants his players to practice how they would play in a live game so that they are fully prepared.
Judge also stated that teaching the players how to make proper tackles in live tackling drills in practice will allow them to make safer tackles in game situations, which should allow players to stay healthier. He also made reference to assuring that players are doing extensive stretching to avoid soft tissue damage throughout the season. Given the rash of injuries sustained in recent years, the focus on limiting injuries is positive news.
The comments on discipline and practice expectations from the new coach harken back to the times of an old coach of the Giants. Tom Coughlin was known for conducting tough practices and being a stickler about punctuality, accountability, and fundamentals.
At one point, if Giants fans closed their eyes and listened to Judge say that players will be expected to be at practice on time, on-field on time and have the proper dress, they would swear that the words were being projected from the mouth of Coughlin himself.
In what was perhaps Judge’s most referenced statement, he said that what he would instill in the NY Giants would be an “old school physical mentality that plays fast, downhill, aggressive, fundamentally sound football”. He said the team will “punch you in the nose for 60 minutes and play each play like it had a history of its own”.
In addition, he would state that the Giants would have a “relentless, competitive attitude and that we will not beat ourselves”. That statement is sure to resonate with Giants fans who have frequently witnessed a team that has repeatedly defeated itself on numerous occasions over recent years. If Judge can rectify that, he will undoubtedly endear himself to the fanbase.