If it wasn’t clear Joe Judge was bringing a no-nonsense attitude to the Giants, he reminded his team of that again on Thursday.
The rookie head coach did not like how his team’s practice was going 25 minutes into practice as they prepare to open the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, so he decided to call his team together and restart the practice from the top.
It was a first for many of the players, but something they agreed was necessary for Judge to do.
“I love it,” Saquon Barkley told reporters on a Zoom call after practice. “That is something we knew we were going to focus on. Everything we do is going to have purpose behind it. Coach didn’t like how we started off. We kind of started over and as captains and as leaders we had to step up to the challenge. I think we responded.
“The thing is on Monday there won’t be any restarts. We have to find that way to have that energy and have that purpose from the beginning. We shouldn’t take a restart for that to happen.”
The restart came during the stretching and individual drills portion of practice when Judge called the team together and lit into them in a profanity-laced tirade, per Jordan Ranaan of ESPN.
Linebacker Blake Martinez, who spent the last four years in Green Bay under two different coaches, said it was a first for him but agreed with Barkley.
“Yeah, it was just one of those moments where we just didn’t come out the right way and we need to kind of refocus and get things going again,” he said. “And we did that. We had to bounce back and kind of show our resolve and our ability to adapt and kind of, as a team, understand what we’re doing wrong and fix it.”
Judge has run a tight ship throughout preseason and training camp – at time forcing even the coaching staff to take laps when mistakes were made on the field.
It is a tactic New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick often uses, where Judge has spent the last several years as an assistant and most recently the special teams coordinator.
Many coaches from the Belichick tree have tried to imitate his style to no success, and Judge faces the same dangers as a rookie head coach without the pedigree to back it up, but players appear to be buying into it.
“It was really cool had everyone took it in a positive way,” Martinez added. “It wasn’t kind of ‘Ah, here we go. Why are we doing this?’ It was just like, ‘Hey, this is what we have to fix. We need to make sure to get this right, because I think we all understand how big this first week is to kind of send a statement for ourselves as a team on what we want to be throughout this season.’”