‘We wanna play for this guy’ – The Mercury News

If Joe Judge’s future as head coach of the Giants hangs in the balance on Sunday, don’t tell his players.

“I think he’s probably, as a head coach, the best leader of a group of men I’ve ever seen,” defensive captain Blake Martinez told the Daily News over the phone on Thursday.

Judge, 40, is suitably under fire To fly off the handle in defense of your program Last weekend, to win only 10 of 32 games in two years, 32 games in two years, between the Giants (4-12) and Washington (6-10) in Sunday’s finale at MetLife Stadium logging in.

But when The News campaigned for the leaders of the Giants’ locker room over the past few weeks, a theme emerged: The players are standing firmly behind him. The team is not fracturing.

He believes that pulling the plug would be a huge mistake. He believes it’s going to work.

Former Green Bay packer Martinez said, “The best way to convince a coach is that he knows everything.” “It is his knowledge, his ability to communicate with anyone on the team, whether it is a Florida guy or Austrian. He has every aspect of football. He can talk to me about inside linebacker play, think about what I should do, see what the long-snapper should do. ,

“Everybody wants to win. No one is happy,” Martinez said. “But we come out to practice ready to roll, ready to fight, ready to play.”

Kicker and captain Graham Gano, 34, the team’s oldest and most trusted player, has seen losses in Washington and Carolina before and said that the culture of judges “starts with people with great character. Even when one or two boys running around [out of line]When you have great people around and nurture them, it makes a big difference.

“We have a great locker room,” Gano said over the phone this week. “Guys aren’t pointing fingers. With injuries, bad bounces and we’re not playing well, I’ve seen plenty of times – I’ve been playing for a long time – where people start fighting. Disconnect or staff in the locker room and There’s a disconnect between the players and the organization. And I really don’t understand that here. People are constantly coming to work and working hard.”

“We understand the external frustration, trust me,” Gano said. “We’re also disappointed.”

Tight end Kyle Rudolph agreed that there is a lot of “frustration” in the building, especially on offense.

“I mean, we’re putting numbers that are absolutely shameful as a crime,” Rudolph said.

But Rudolph said the Giants’ biggest disappointment is that they are “doing things the right way” but still not getting results. It is easier when the root cause is more clear, he said.

“I Think About My Rookie Year in Minnesota” [in 2011]”We went 3-13 and won our third game on Christmas Eve,” Rudolph said this week. “Trade since he went all-in to try to win a Super Bowl with Brett Favre. happened. They had a lot of seasoned players, and Brett retired, and Steve Hutchinson moved on. [after 2011], Pat Williams retired. A lot of important pieces of that team were no longer there and we were really young.

“I think in the year where we had a lot of people who were experienced players who were changing their path, didn’t really care anymore – it’s easy to fix,” the tight end added. “It’s easy to be like, ‘Okay, here’s the problem, get rid of it, change it.'”

Martinez, Gano and Rudolph all agree that a big part of this year’s futility is, in Martinez’s words, the Giants’ amount of “crazy” injuries, especially to key players and leaders. They currently have 21 players in injured reserve.

“We call it the captain’s curse,” Martinez said. “There were five captains who were out for an entire season or at least a good part of the year.”

Nick Gates, Martinez, Jabril Peppers and Daniel Jones have all been shelved, and Saxon Barkley was sidelined for a long time. Only Gano and Logan Ryan have been consistently available.

“It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen when it comes to health and people getting hurt at the end of the season,” Gano said.

“It’s just been a crazy season,” Martinez said. “I’ve never been a part of something where every week I’m like, ‘Oh, hey, what’s going on?! Welcome to the training room, man! You check in there, you write some stuff in there’ Come visit with us here.’”

The Giants were one of the healthiest teams in the NFL in Judge’s first season in 2020, only to see the pendulum swing in Year 2. Offensive linemen Joe Looney and Zach Fulton left Judge’s grueling training camp early, and the coach’s strategy came under fire as the players started. Falling like flies in the fall.

But Martinez, who tore his left ACL in Week 3, doesn’t see a correlation. On the contrary, he thinks the Giants didn’t work hard enough last summer.

“To be completely honest, looking back from last year to this year, I think training camp this year was really easy,” said the middle linebacker. “The only aspect that changed was that we had joint exercises compared to just doing our own drills. I think we were a little soft in this training camp.”

Martinez also said that coaches are “very responsive to players if you communicate,” ready to give players a drill or day off “whatever makes our bodies feel better.” There was a point early in the fall when the judge also took the player’s feedback and dropped a few conditioning runs or low practice loads.

“Joe has been consistent in his behavior and his approach with us,” Ryan said in a recent press conference. “He has treated all of us with respect in terms of players and in terms of listening to veterans of this team and welcoming any insights we may have… He has been consistent ever since they hired him. remains and has treated us professionally.”

When a Bill Belichick mentor fails as a head coach—and they often fail—it’s usually because he tried too hard to become his six-time Super Bowl-winning mentor. The roots of Judge’s program are undoubtedly deep in New England, but safety Julian Love, who has grown into a team leadership role, said the first-time head coach is real.

“He is himself,” Love said during a personal interview in mid-December. “I think he finds a balance between what he learned in his past and what this team needs. When tough times come, I’d say one less coach will change their story or their story. But he made the switch at all.” Who himself has been through everything, and he believes in us. I feel like he knows that we all know what we are capable of, and he is living up to it is who he is.”

Rudolph also said that there should be nothing wrong with channeling or leaning on Belichick as a major influence on his own program. Giants ownership has also eagerly followed Belichick’s coaching tree in recent years, so they clearly wanted a piece of The Patriot Way.

“I played for the coach” [Mike] Zimmer for seven years,” said Rudolph. “Who was Coach Zimmer’s mentor? Bill Parcells. Coach Zimmer is his own person, but you better believe him whenever a situation arises, whenever he needs advice So he used to go to Bill for that advice. That doesn’t mean Bill is a parcel. He’s Mike Zimmer. And I see the same thing here with Joe.

,[Judge] Tells us all the time, ‘We’re not patriots,'” Rudolph continued. “When we were practicing in New England he really insisted, ‘I’m not trying to make us patriots. I want to do things my own way, the New York Giant Way.’ Do we do what they do there, and has he taken things off Bill? Yes absolutely. And he should. Who doesn’t want to be taken in the way that the greatest coach ever to coach our sport worked? But I think he is his own coach too.”

In a truly Belichickian team-over-individual style, Love said the judge’s handling of the entire roster equally, regardless of player salary, social status or stats, is one of his best qualities.

“What I really appreciate about him is that he doesn’t like the stars,” Love said. “She’s fair to everyone.”

It’s not that the judge doesn’t have work to do in all areas, including player discipline.

While he reigned with an iron fist, when veteran Golden Tate embarrassed the team last season, for example, rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney has seemingly escaped open consequences For violations several times this year.

There is nothing that cannot be reset, however, living up to the increasingly stringent standards the judge brought to East Rutherford in January 2020.

Furthermore, the players’ reviews about the Judge were largely unsaid: The Giants’ 22–58 record since the start of 2017, tied with the Jets for the worst in the NFL, reflects the deep organizational damage that has just been done. Also in need of repair.

In the judge, however, Martinez sees a great football coach, someone who coaches the entire team every practice — offense, defense, special teams — and gets the most out of the guys.

“The coaching I have received during my stay here compared to my entire career has allowed me to take a step faster, see things faster, play freely and allow me to pretend and achieve my full potential. ” They said.

The players see no reason to change.