Joe Judge isn’t afraid to do things his way. For better or worse.
The New York Giants’ rookie head coach has some ideas that aren’t conventional in the NFL. He wouldn’t say his players’ names for months in media settings after he got the job. He made them run laps for mistakes at practice, which is rare for the pros. Or college. And some high schools. He had defensive backs play with tennis balls taped to their hands to teach them not to hold.
You might see some of these things in “Friday Night Lights.” Not the NFL.
Judge’s first game comes on a big stage, on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That game can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
When you’re unconventional, the clock starts ticking right away. If Judge wins, his methods will be hailed as old-school genius. If he loses, it might not take long before professionals start grumbling about running laps.
Will Joe Judge’s methods work?
News that players and even position coaches were running laps for mistakes at Giants camp was met with cynicism.
Never does. Be. Your. Self. There is only one BB
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) August 18, 2020
“BB” is Bill Belichick, Judge’s old boss. Multiple former Belichick assistants have tried to run things like Belichick when they became head coaches, but without any track record of success. Players will buy in if they know you’re making them better. But you have to prove that, and fairly fast.
Are Giants buying into Judge’s program?
Perhaps the Giants are buying in. There haven’t been a series of negative stories from anonymous players, like there were from the Detroit Lions after another ex-Patriots assistant, Matt Patricia, took over. And Judge might have endeared himself to the players by diving on a fumble himself during a drill in which the field was soaked and players had to get on the ball.
“I was hyped up and excited to watch it,” pass rusher Markus Golden said, according to the team’s site. “Had all the rookies go, and then we ended it with coach Judge. That was big time. Coach Judge, he knows how to do it. He’s coaching us about ball security and he proved that what he does works because he got out there and did it himself.
“It was fun just to see him actually get out there and do it, too. It’s fun. It shows you that football is hard work, but there’s nothing wrong mixing a little fun into it. That was really exciting. Everybody got excited. It was fun. It was a fun way to end practice.”
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Maybe it will work great. The Giants were confident when they hired Judge, despite his relatively thin resume. They saw something in him. The truth is, the only thing that matters is whether Judge and the Giants win. If they do, you’ll see plenty of other coaches taping tennis balls to their players’ hands in practice.
The first test comes on Monday night. Maybe Judge will run a lap if the Giants lose.