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Many firsts came Joe Judge’s way during the 2020 NFL season. It was his first season as not just a head coach in this league, but in his entire coaching career up to this point. It was also the first time the league has had to deal with an ongoing pandemic.
So it was a year of battling adversity from the get-go, but what resulted was a Giants team that appears to have the right guy in place to lead them for years to come. Judge said laying down the foundation and culture was a main priority in Year 1, and he accomplished just yet.
Now, the next question is whether or not the Giants have the right quarterback in place to lead them in the future. With Daniel Jones, Judge believes Big Blue is in the right hands at that position.
Speaking on WFAN with Boomer & Gio, Judge revealed that he told Jones flat out that he was evaluating him all season to see if he was the right franchise quarterback for his team.
“Specifically with Daniel, and I shared this with him earlier in the year, I told him, ‘Look, part of the things we have to evaluate this year is I have to evaluate you,’” Judge said. “See if he was really the answer here and see if he was the guy we can build with. And there hit a point in the year where you could see there were different traits he had that the team really responded to and his level of play was raised.”
Judge could be referencing the Giants’ five-game win streak that came about because the defense was playing like a Top 10 unit in the league, and Jones’ play took a big upward swing. He did get hurt during that streak against the Cincinnati Bengals, but Judge was noticing things off the field as well that made him confident in Jones.
It isn’t just the stats and on-field for him at the end of the day.
“There’s a lot of things you can argue in terms of, you know, statistical output, this or that. But I’m just telling you, when you watch the guy how he commands the huddle, when you watch how he commands the offense, when you watch how he’s adjusting to a game plan, when you see the level of toughness he plays with and you watch him prepare away from the field better than anybody else on a daily basis — and that’s saying a lot because our guys emptied the tank everyday.
“There’s a lot of things you look at him and say, ‘Ok, this guy gives us confidence to go forward with him because we know he’s going to be prepared. We know he’s going to compete. And we’ve seen improvement from him.’ There’s a lot of things that kinda go unnoticed by the naked eye or things you’re not privy to seeing in a daily day of meetings and practice, but there’s a lot of things he’s just done repeatedly where I can look at him with confidence and say this guy gives our team a chance to be successful.”
Around this time last year, Judge wasn’t giving any starting jobs to a single player on his roster. But after completing his first season with the Giants, his confidence in No. 8 is set heading into the Duke product’s third season.
Jones still has a lot to prove to everyone on the outside, though. The results on the field is what does matter when all is said and done, and the numbers say he regressed in 2020. He did have to work through another offensive scheme, his second in two seasons, and lost a reliable offensive weapon in Saquon Barkley in Week 2.
But the same issues – ball security, focusing on receivers for too long, etc. – still showed their face. Year 3 is a big one for Jones, but Judge seems more than sure that Jones is the quarterback the Giants need to make a return to the playoffs. And more importantly, make that a consistent thing each season he’s in charge.