On Thursday afternoon, the new head coach of the New York Giants stepped in front of the media to be officially introduced by the organization: Joe Judge took the podium to speak about his vision for the team, his aspirations to become a head coach, and the opportunity to lead an NFL franchise. Along the way, the 38-year-old also talked about his eight years with the New England Patriots and under future Hall of Famer Bill Belichick.
Judge, who joined the Patriots in 2012 as assistant special teams coach and worked his way up to become the man responsible for not just the kicking game operation (2015-2019) but the wide receiver position as well (2019), mentioned the advice Belichick gave him — always being himself — and also shared what he has learned from the former Giants defensive coordinator. According to Judge, it was a rather straight-forward lesson.
“What I have learned from coach Belichick was really simple: be flexible within your personnel,” Judge said. “Don’t try to shove round pegs into square roles. Figure out what you have. Let them play to their strengths. Don’t sit in a meeting and tell me what you don’t have in a player. Don’t tell me they can’t do a certain thing. Tell me what they can do, and then we’ll figure out as coaches — because that’s our job — how we can use that.”
“That’s our responsibility. Everybody has something that they can do. How many castoffs do you see around the league that end up on another team and everybody says ‘Wow, how did they get that out of them?’ Maybe they were just closing their eyes to what they could do,” continued Judge, who was offered the vacant position in New York despite not having any previous experience as a head coach or even a coordinator.
The Patriots under Belichick’s leadership, of course, have mastered this approach to personnel use over the years. It is what has allowed them to build a dynasty not just through the draft but also by smartly investing in trade targets and the free agency market. Players such as Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison, Wes Welker and — most recently — Lawrence Guy and Kyle Van Noy are all examples for this and have flourished in New England.
“We as a coaching staff [...] we have to make sure we’re sitting down, we’re patient with our players, we fully evaluate them, we find out what they can do to be an asset, and that we’re not foolish enough to not use that,” Judge continued during his introductory presser. If he is able to apply those principles while working alongside a coaching staff that has yet to be assembled, then the Giants’ gamble to hire Judge may just pay off.