For Giants’ Joe Judge, It’s All About the Team

John Fennelly
New York Giants, Joe Judge
Jan 9, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Introductory press conference of New York Giants new head coach Joe Judge at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants could have brought in some more high-profile picks in this year’s draft than they did. Instead, they chose the right players for their mindset and system.

Head coach Joe Judge knows that in a team game such as football, you have to play as a team in order to win. That is the culture he is bringing to the New York Giants. He wants to change the recent culture where the sum of the parts has been greater than the whole.

The Giants were hung up on profiles and selling jerseys and idiotic self-promotions. That led to just 12 wins over the last three years. Under Judge, the culture will be one of team-first where no player is above the rest – a unit of 53 players all heading in the same direction.

They made some curious choices in this weekend’s NFL Draft, bypassing some dynamic talent for more staid and steady choices. Football acumen and character prevailed over raw talent and high profiles. Translation: they wanted good, loyal soldiers.

“We spent a lot of time on the character, on the traits, on the personality. Look, we’re not collecting talent, we’re building a team — and it’s important,” said Judge. “There’s a lot of good players out there. There’s not a lot of right fits and you want to find the right fits to bring into your locker room. It’s important to spend as much time with these guys as people on the front end and make sure that you’re building a culture in your locker room. I don’t want 53 independent contractors, I want one team. That’s what we have to make sure we bring in the right guys for that.”

During the draft, the Giants’ first round pick, Georgia OT Andrew Thomas made the mistake of mentioning that he wants to win a Super Bowl. Judge repeated to the media what he told Thomas after the call.

“Hey listen, this is your focus, this is what we’re building, this is what our culture here is going to be, let’s just make sure you say the right thing at the right time.” Number one, not to make yourself have any expectations you now have to meet, it’s going to be tough enough for you to go ahead and get in the rhythm of you being a pro as it is. Number two, don’t ever, the whole comparisons and predictions, just work out what you can control. Right now what you can control is showing up, doing your job day-by-day and improving and that’s it.”

Judge is laying the groundwork for the same type of culture that he worked under in New England, where the team comes first. He won’t get any resistance from his boss, general manager Dave Gettleman, a man known to cut bait on players who go rogue or outgrow their contracts.

After the draft, reporters wanted to know how these two alpha personalities got along in their first draft collaborating together.

“It was great working with Joe and at the end of the day, it’s not a Dave Gettleman decision, they are not Joe Judge decisions, they are New York Football Giants decisions,’ said Gettleman. “That’s really the way it is. It was terrific working with Joe, it was thorough, it was well done and we felt very prepared and felt we had a really good, solid draft.”

That answer wasn’t sufficient, however. Gettleman was asked how it was different than working with the other coaches he worked with in his career.

“God bless you,” he said. “We get along fine. Next question.”