NFL Analyst: “Tough-Guy Image” Could Backfire On Joe Judge

Giants head coach Joe Judge has implemented some old-school disciplinary methods, making players – and coaches – run laps for mistakes

Zach Gelb
August 20, 2020 - 8:51 am
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Giants head coach Joe Judge may be young, but the 38-year-old is implementing some old-school disciplinary methods, making players – and coaches – run laps for mistakes.

It’s an interesting move by Judge, who has coached under Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, with the bulk of his experience coming on special teams. His hire took many by surprise, but Judge will be expected to right the Big Blue ship – and fast.

“[His hire] was out of the blue,” NFL Network analyst Marc Ross said on The Zach Gelb Show. “You hadn’t heard much about him. Of course there [were] other guys like an Eric Bieniemy who kind of, I felt, got overlooked and who had a much stronger resume, who had accomplished a lot more things. Of course now we’re into the minority coaches getting overlooked, and Eric Bieniemy was an accomplished college player, pro player, a great coach, a Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator – and when Joe Judge got hired over a guy like that, it was definitely a shock and a surprise with the limited resume that Joe Judge had. But I guess that’s what the Giants were trying to find in their culture, the tough-guy image that they’re trying to portray this year in the 2020 season.”

It’ll be interesting to see how long Giants players tolerate Judge’s old-school act. Is making players run laps for mistakes a big deal?

“It could be a big deal because no one does it anymore,” Ross said. “You hear Bill Belichick has done it, but no one else does it. Everyone wants to compare [guys] who [come] from the Belichick tree to [Belichick], but he’s one-of-a-kind. First you have to [have] Tom Brady as my quarterback. I have to get the greatest quarterback of all time to be my quarterback to anchor everything I do and anchor all these policies that I implement – and unless you can do that, then these things where you treat the players as if they’re not men, that’s tough to create. 

“Especially if you lose and you’re making guys run laps and they have never done that in their life or haven’t done it since Pop Warner football,” Ross continued. “That’s not going to sit well with grown men. The Giants have a lot of young players, so right now everyone is saying the right things, but if you lose the first couple games – the Giants have a very tough opening schedule.”

The Giants open against the Steelers on Monday Night Football on Sept. 14, before hitting the road in three of their next four: at Bears, against 49ers, at Rams, and at Cowboys. All of those teams finished 8-8 or better in 2019. 

“If you start out 0-3 and you’re still making guys run laps and you’re losing, [players will] say, ‘This is not really helping us win,’” Ross said. “These things that are kind of demeaning us and making us not about football, that’s not related to winning – that’s going to be tough to swallow for a lot of guys.”