EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Joe Judge has every intention of bringing old-fashioned blue-collar football back to the struggling New York Giants.
Roughly three minutes after being introduced as the head coach of the Giants, the relative unknown 38-year-old disciple of two of football’s coaching greats set out to answer the question of who is this young man taking over a franchise that has made the playoffs once since the 2011 season.
“What I am about is an old-school physical mentality,” Judge said Thursday. “We are going to put a product on the field that this city and region are proud of because this team will represent this area. We will play fast. We will play downhill. We will be aggressive. We will punch you in the nose for 60 minutes and we will play every play with a relentless, competitive attitude.”
The team did not release terms of Judge’s contract, but it certainly was not close to the seven-year, $62 million deal the Carolina Panthers gave Matt Rhule on Tuesday. The former Giants assistant had been considered a front-runner for the Giants’ job.
Judge refused to answer a question about being the Giants’ second choice, insisting his sole focus is taking advantage of the opportunity he has been given. He said his team will be fundamentally sound and prepared. He said he will take care of his players and asked them to give everything they have.
If that sounds like things that Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Alabama coach Nick Saban would say, it’s not surprising. Judge worked for both men, winning two national titles with Saban and the Crimson Tide and three with Belichick and the Pats.
Judge said Saban taught him to address everyone on not only what they had to do, but how it should look, what they are going to do to get there and why it is important. Belichick made him understand the need to be flexible with his personnel and to make sure they were playing to their strengths.
Judge talked for roughly 20 minutes in setting out his goals for a team that has won 12 games over the past three seasons, including nine under Pat Shurmur over the past two.
Shurmur was fired a week ago Monday. They Giants needed eight days and five interviews to find a successor.
Co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, who have lost credibility with their recent hires of Ben McAdoo and Shurmur, described Judge as detailed-orientated, passionate, disciplined, someone with a voracious appetite to learn, a great communicator, a student and a teacher.
Judge plans to take his time assembling a staff, saying he wants teachers. He wants his players to have a team-first approach.
Mara said he went into the interview with Judge on Monday not expecting that much since he did not know much about him. Halfway through the meeting, he felt strongly the Giants had their next coach.
The Giants had an interview scheduled with Rhule on Tuesday. The team planned to keep the appointment but Rhule’s agent telephoned to say his client had a deal with the Panthers.
The Giants felt the length of the deal was too long and Mara said they were excited about Judge.
“There are always risks when you hire a coach who has never been a head coach. I am just excited about what he brings to the table. He has a certain poise and presence.″
Tisch spoke with Judge on Tuesday, a day after his initial meeting with Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams.
“We got the right guy at the right time on the right time,” Tisch said.
Judge refused to discuss his plans for either the offense or defense. He also didn’t want to talk about his players until he studied them.
“We will do whatever fits our personnel against a specific opponent, 3-4, 4-3, man, zone,” Judge said. “We are going to look at the best path and that could change week by week. We want to build in versatility with our players and multiples on all sides of the ball.″
Gettleman said Judge is excellent evaluating college talent, someone who can get players functioning quickly in making the jump to the NFL.
While the Giants have two budding stars in quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley, they need help at several positions, particularly linebacker, on the offensive line and a pass rushing lineman.