At one point during Monday’s training camp practice, a whole bunch of Giants players wearing blue jerseys were jogging around the perimeter of Field 3, going far out of their way to get to the next drill.
This was not a leisurely stroll. This was a penalty lap, run by the entire backup offensive unit. Players, along with the offensive coaches, were on the move.
Welcome to the Joe Judge Giants.
A bit later, there was some pre-snap movement from guard Chad Slade. Take a solo lap, big guy.
The last time receiver Sterling Shepard — the longest-tenured Giants player — saw a coach lay down the law with penalty laps?
“Probably middle school,’’ he said, and smiled.
Again, welcome to the Joe Judge Giants.
“It’s going to take everybody to buy in if we want to be the team that we said that we wanted to be,’’ Shepard said. “I think we have to buy into what coach Judge has in store for us. If that’s what he has in store for us, running laps for mistakes, just don’t make mistakes. That’s a simple way to get out of doing that. But I’m embracing the change and I’m all for it.’’
Based on his early work with the Giants, Judge, 38, is not going to dissect all his motives and messaging to make is sound as if he invented all of this. He put a simple stamp on his penalty-lap missive:
“There are consequences on the field for making mistakes,’’ he said. “In a game, it’ll cost you 5, 10, or 15 yards. In practice, there needs to be consequences so we learn how to deal with our mistakes.’’
As a rookie head coach, this was another “first’’ for Judge, as the Giants donned pads for the first time this summer during a crisp 90-minute (the maximum allowed by the NFL) practice that was all about accelerated pace and efficiency of movement.
The devil is not in the details for Judge. The details ARE the details for Judge, who has worked for Nick Saban and Bill Belichick. Judge, with only his eyes showing out of the COVID-19 protective neck gaiter he wore across his face, did not miss much. He counseled Shepard and then rookie Austin Mack during a passing drill, looking as if he were gesturing about ball security. After Dion Lewis caught a pass and completed the play, Judge showed Lewis how he should spin away from oncoming contact.
During a drill near the end zone, Judge had seen enough of defensive backs displaying sloppy coverage and exclaimed, “Play your [expletive] technique!’’
Nothing is too small for Judge to, well, judge.
“I would say I always thought I was a detail guy, but now I’ve got to be even more, the way that we’re getting coached, which is great,’’ Saquon Barkley said. “All the little things.’’
Barkley said some of the little things he is picking up this summer is using his footwork to set up a block and the proper way to cross over the ball from one hand to the other.
Judge orchestrated practice to prioritize every second. Each period is shorter than the norm, to keep everyone moving and engaged. Judge stood between two of the same drills running concurrently and was so exacting in his preparation that the snaps were timed to go off about 30 seconds apart, allowing Judge to watch one play, pivot and turn around and then watch the other.
“That doesn’t always match up exactly,’’ Judge said. “We maximize the reps and fly around and get as much as we can. The theory is we want to get everybody as much reps as we can so we can evaluate the team, and everyone can work as much as they can to improve.’’
Judge cannot be two places at once and anything he misses live he makes sure to watch on tape later in the day. He knows what is to be installed each day and gravitates to certain areas of the field, seeking to watch how certain players are coming along with their fundamentals. He focuses on specific position groups to see how they are building from day-to-day. The Giants used only one field Monday. It will become more of a challenge for Judge on the days two adjoining fields are used at the same time.
“I just want to make sure I am conscious of everything going on,’’ Judge said.
Thus far, all signs point to Judge being conscious of it all.