Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: Today we started on Washington. We picked up as a team, we’ve cleaned up the previous game over the last couple days and put that to rest with the team, and now our thoughts and focus are fully on Washington from this point forward.
Obviously, this is an explosive team. You talk about them defensively, it really starts up front with the edge players and the interior. They have a number of first round draft picks on their line. They have a lot of very capable players. That, complemented by their corners and their playmaking safeties, really gives them fits for opposing offenses. They do a good job producing pressure up front and capitalizing on the opportunities produced from up front. This is a team that can get after you with just the front four. They can bring pressure, they do a really good job with their movement schemes, and they change up throughout the game. (Jack) Del Rio does a really good job with Ron (Rivera) as far as scheming for the opponent, changing up. The other thing they do is they really keep it simple for their players to play fast and play ahead.
Offensively, obviously, (Scott) Turner is doing a really good job of moving the pieces around. That’s a great catch and run team. (Terry) McLaurin is one of the top guys in the league at catching short passes, turning them into basically a punt return, getting into space. This is an elite screen team. Whether it’s running the ball between the tackles or getting us into space, they’re going to get it to the running backs as much as they can and they’re going to get them moving.
In the kicking game, it starts with big game specialists. Nate (Kaczor) does a great job of really letting those guys just go ahead and bang away and use their leg strength. They can flip the field every time they do it. You have to be in a position to make sure you play sound in the kicking game, otherwise they can give you trouble with field position. This is an explosive team with a tremendous amount of talent on it. They can make plays in any phase, and we have to make sure that we’re prepared this week. That being said, I’d like to open it up for questions, whatever I can answer.
Q: Ron Rivera talks a lot about 5,000 reps for a young player is kind of his arbitrary figure for when a guy sort of starts to get things. Often, the context is quarterback, but other positions as well. Do you kind of have a similar philosophy? Have you developed one? Have you worked with guys who have had philosophies like that?
A: I think, overall, you can simplify it to just practicing well prepares you for game execution, and that’s the biggest thing. Whether it’s 5,000 reps, you’ve heard before 10,000 hours makes you an expert, whatever you may want to say. But to me, it’s just repetition obviously makes you better. It gives you an opportunity to see multiple looks. It gives you an opportunity to adjust and learn from your own mistakes, and the mistakes of those next to you so when you get into live action, you can make the correct adjustment on the fly.
Q: So far over the course of the season, what have been the biggest takeaways for you about what it’s like for defenses and the challenges they face without crowd noise, home or away? Specifically, have you noticed a big difference in the way quarterbacks are able to use the hard count?
A: Yeah, I think you’ve seen that across the league. The quarterbacks this year are doing a good job of using the hard counts. While that shouldn’t be something that impacts defenses across the league, it is, and the quarterbacks have done a great job of that. I think you see a lot of teams changing up their communication on the line of scrimmage because of how much you can hear on TV copies and how much the microphones pick up. That being said, we’ve already noticed a lot of teams that are changing up their verbiage. We’ve made adjustments ourselves along the way to account for what other teams can pick up on us.
Q: Is there a different type of challenge getting a defense to the energy level that it needs when the stadiums are quiet?
A: No. No, you need to bring your own energy and be ready to play.
Q: I’m just wondering, you guys have had a little bit of a slow start here. I’m wondering in particular what parts of your game you think you need more attention to and how are you addressing them right now going into this next one?
A: Right now, regardless of the record, we’re coming back to work and we’re working on being an improved team day by day and week by week. Everyone has to coach better, everyone has to play better. There’s not a single aspect of our performance that we don’t want to improve on. No matter how good it may be compared to where it was in Week 1, it has to be much better by Week 16. We have to keep improving as a team.
Q: There’s been a lot of talk this week about making progress and that sort of thing. With Daniel (Jones), what’s the area or areas you really want to see him make the next step?
A: Look, there are a lot of things right now. But this guy is still a young guy. We’re working on getting him really comfortable within the scheme, handling different situations. He’s made a lot of progress for us. As an entire team, we want to see guys make strides in the running and passing game and defensively and the kicking game as well. But I’ve seen a lot of progress from Daniel. He’s definitely come, he’s a very resilient guy, he’s a fighter. He stands there and plays very aggressive. I’m pleased with the way he’s played for the most part to this point. There are obviously some things that all of us as coaches and players have to clean up and learn from and not repeat mistakes.
Q: You weren’t here last year when these two teams met in Week 16, but I’m sure you’ve looked back at the film. I’m wondering two things. One, when you look back at that and you have 40ish guys from that team on your team, does the effort that they were playing with, despite it being a two-win team versus a two-win team, does that stand out to you? Then you were on the winning side of a lot of December games. Did you take note of, when you were playing teams with the Patriots, the losing teams who gave a good effort in December and the teams that mailed it in when their season was over?
A: Look, regardless of the record, it’s our job to always expect everybody’s best, and that’s our job as coaches. Our players can’t go into games overconfident because of anybody’s record. We want to make sure we come and we play for 60 complete minutes every week. We play regardless of the situation or circumstance or the score in the game with the same energy that we started the game with. I understand the question you’re saying. Obviously, I’ve watched all of the games from last year. I looked at it from different perspectives in terms of analyzing players individually into what we would have done with this year’s roster. That was really an early part of the process. In terms of the energy that was played with last year, to be honest with you, not to dismiss that part of the question, but I’m really only concerned with what we do this year.
Q: You’ve defended Daniel quite a bit in these sessions with us, and Jerry (Schuplinski) has and Jason (Garrett) has as well. I’m curious, do you share those thoughts with him personally? Do you tell him that he’s your guy?
A: Daniel? Yeah, absolutely. Look, we have all the confidence in the world in the guys on our roster, and we have a lot of confidence in Daniel as well. Listen, just my personality, the personality of this coaching staff, is we’re very blunt, open and honest. I’m not really sitting here trying to sell you a car. We’re not recruiting you to college. I’m going to tell you the truth every day. You have to be mentally tough to handle that, you have to understand the criticism that we’re giving to you, and you have to be able to take the coaching and move forward with it. I’ll tell you what, Number 8 does that very well for us. He’s a tough-minded dude. He responds to a lot of criticism on the outside. But he blocks that out and he plays for his teammates internally. Those guys respect that about him. Have I had private conversations with every one of our players? Absolutely. Do I say things to them that I’m not going to reveal to the public? Absolutely. That’s just part of my job. We’re very honest with our players. We let them know where they’re at, where we need them to go, and then we put them in positions where they can work on how we can get them there. But today, we’re focused on Washington. I’m sure him, along with every other player on the team, is going to do everything they can to get ready for Washington.
Q: Just a quick one on Jabrill (Peppers). How did he come out of the game with his ankle? Do you expect him to be back to close to 100 percent of the snaps this week?
A: We definitely expect to see him have an increased role. We’ll see as he goes through these next couple days of practice where he’s at, but I was pleased with the effort he played with. Everyone comes out a little bit dinged and bruised up. That’s just the nature of the NFL. But I thought he made some progress for us. We’ll get him on the field and we’ll have an idea of what load he can handle.
Q: I feel like I’m asking you about a talented pass rusher on the other side almost every week at this point, but Chase Young, I’m sure, is a guy that you scouted a bit coming out of Ohio State. I’m curious what makes him kind of unique in the way he’s able to produce the way he does?
A: This guy, first off, he’s really athletic. That kind of goes, yeah, I got you. But he’s really athletic, which enables him to do a variety of things. His speed off the edge is very good, his reaction on the counter moves, the way he plays off contact. He has great instincts to find the ball, which is very important because this is a guy, you go to the Eagles game, they really chipped him a lot with the running back and the tackle and they try to get the double teams to slow him down. You watch him in that and his ability to spin off and get inside and really still isolate and make it a one on one matchup and get to the quarterback. He has a great knack for finding the ball in the pocket and really going and attacking the quarterbacks as they’re trying to step up in the pocket. He has versatility to drop in the pass. He can really play in the zones. He has good breaking speed, he’s a good tackler. This guy plays with a high motor. Look, whether it’s him or (Montez) Sweat on the other side, these guys come off the edge, they’re dangerous players.
Q: You guys made the decision to cut Damion Ratley and you called up Austin Mack. I’m just curious what Austin has showed you over the course of the season on the practice squad that made you want to do that?
A: He’s just a guy that’s been very consistent for us in terms of how he comes to work every day and some of the production he’s had in practice. He’s been very dedicated to his craft and improving. He’s shown some progress since training camp. But he’s a guy that since we got him has demonstrated accountability and knowing his assignments, executing with the right technique and being productive when the ball came his way.
Q: A couple more on Daniel if you don’t mind. Jerry (Schuplinski) said yesterday that Daniel takes these losses really hard. How does that manifest itself? What do you see in how he takes a loss hard? Can a quarterback, a young guy, take a loss too hard? Also, late in these games, you always hear about baseball players, sometimes they say the guy squeezes the bat too hard, gets a little tense in late inning situations. Do you see any of that from Daniel late in these games?
A: No, I don’t at all. In fact, he made a lot of good plays for us down the stretch in the Dallas game. He made a lot of big completions on extended plays, of extending drives for us. I don’t see any of that with him at all. In fact, I see him getting more comfortable and relaxed within the scheme, which has been a positive. The only thing I could say for Daniel, I don’t want to speak for anybody else, but I would just say in terms of whatever his emotion is after the game, I see him funnel it into a solid week of work. I see him back in the building early on Monday, preparing his body and getting back to the tape to review it. I see him here late on Tuesday watching film, and I see him early on Wednesday before the rest of the team shows up, getting a jump start on the install. Whatever the emotion is, I can’t speak for him on that, I just know that whatever it is, he funnels that into hard work throughout the entire week.
Q: You mentioned Montez Sweat and also of course Chase Young. I know it’s going to sound like a dumb question, but I’ve asked them before. Does Daniel have to be overly cognizant about ball security against two really fast, young players who are going to swipe that ball if they can?
A: I think we all have to be. That’s every player on the team. This team has done great job producing turnovers, they’re on top of the National Football League in that. Whether that’s the corners making the interception because they have great zone vision on those early downs, or if that’s them stripping and swatting at the ball for fumbles. Every skill player who touches the ball has to be very conscious of the players around him because they do a great job of attacking that ball.
Q: With the guys on the edge with outside linebackers, obviously we know with Zo (Lorenzo Carter) and X (Oshane Ximines) being down and Markus (Golden) and Kyler (Fackrell) kind of stepping up, I just wanted to ask you about Cam Brown a little bit. When you’re dealing with a young player like that, who has really seems to be coming into his own on special teams the last couple weeks, I know how specials are so important to you, do you walk a line between how much you want to give him on defense because he’s becoming an asset for you on special teams? Is that something that you guys think about?
A: No. No, really we’re going to do whatever is best for the team. If this guy can play every snap on defense and every snap in the kicking game, I have no problem with that. Look, I’ve been able to be around some players. I coached Patrick Chung in 2015. This guy played every snap of defense for us and never came off the field in the kicking game either. So, if you have that type of motor, that kind of tank and you can handle that load, we’ll give it to you. Now at the same time, we have to do what’s best for the team, so maybe not every situation is where you have to be. I would say for Cam, he’s a guy who really is coming into his own in the kicking game. I think the one thing about special teams for young players is, it allows them to really learn and adjust to the speed of the game and the physicality. Just the reactionary instincts they have to develop within the game, that transfers over to offense or defense as well. He has some good exposure already through five weeks of really playing and seeing some fast-paced ball in front of him. That should apply and help him on defense eventually. We’ll practice him this week. He’s always been practicing in those roles anyway. We’ll see where it leads us by the game plan.
Q: I know you guys had a workout with Trent Harris. I know you’re probably going to add him to the practice squad, at least from what I understand. Did you cross his path much two years ago when he was up in New England? Why is he a fit with what you guys like to do defensively with Pat (Graham)?
A: We did. We worked him out. We signed him to the practice squad. I was with him in New England, and he was with Pat in Miami as well. Look, this is a guy that plays on the edge. I think he has a good skillset in terms of setting the edge, some pass rush ability. We’ll see where he’s at through the week of practice. We’re going to work all the guys on our roster and practice squad every week within the game plan and see what pieces fit best for us. But he’s a lunch pail type of guy. He comes to work every day, doesn’t say much, just works, good team-first personality. He’ a good match for what we’re looking for right now. We’ll look to see what opportunities present itself to him.