If he had made the point once, it would have been understandable. Twice? You still might have chalked it up to postgame frustration after yet another defeat, this one a 30-10 loss to Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers.
But when Joe Judge continually brought up the notion that he didn’t think the coaches did a good enough job of putting the players in position, you knew this was not the same guy we’ve come to know in his nearly two years as the Giants’ coach.
Judge never criticizes his players, even when criticism is warranted. And he almost always expresses support for his coaches. Not this time.
"We have to do a better job of putting our players in position to make plays," Judge said after the Giants dropped to 3-7 on Monday night. "We have too many good players. We’ve got to put them in a better position to capitalize. That’s it. We’ve got to make sure we sit down [Tuesday] as a coaching staff, understand how we have to play this game to give our players a chance to make plays."
Sorry, but is not the usual coachspeak we get from a guy who knows exactly what he is saying. And if he didn’t make his point the first time, he made it again. And again.
When I asked if he specifically was making the point that this game — and this season, really — is more on the coaches, Judge said, "Put that on down. You can put that down. You can write that down. The players got to execute, that’s their job . . . But we have to make sure we put them in position to have success, and it’s got to be consistent in that way. I’m not going to debate that."
Whether Judge will take any further action remains to be seen. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has been the subject of frequent criticism for his unimaginative play-calling and the team’s lack of offensive production. And while Judge has defended Garrett in the past, he would not offer a direct answer when asked after the game if Garrett will be replaced.
"I have faith in all the people on the team, players, coaches and everything," Judge said when asked if he still has faith in Garrett. "We’ll assess everything as a team and make any move we need to going forward."
Asked specifically if Garrett will continue to call plays, Judge said, "I’m not going to get into that . . . Let’s not read too far into this. I respect the question."
It should be noted that when previously asked about Garrett’s status, Judge had said he will remain on the coaching staff.
Yet this was hardly a tour de force for the former Cowboys head coach, who has been the Giants’ offensive coordinator since the start of the 2020 season. The Giants had almost all of their offensive weapons back after running back Saquon Barkley and left tackle Andrew Thomas returned to the lineup, but it was Thomas who scored the team’s only touchdown on a tackle-eligible reception in the second quarter.
It was a pathetic showing against a defense that has been vulnerable this season and did not perform well in back-to-back losses to the Saints and Washington Football Team. Against the Giants, however, the Bucs looked like the ’85 Bears.
Judge took it hard. He took it to heart.
"I take this very personally," he said. "I’m a man of my word. When I look in the [television] camera and tell the people of New York and New Jersey we’re going to give them something to be proud of, I’m not asking you to be patient. That’s not your job. I’m telling you we’re going to put something on the field you’ll be proud of. That’s on my name. I’m the leader of this team. I’m in charge of this team. That’s on me. I don’t point fingers. I don’t make excuses. We’re going to get this right."
Judge said he’s particularly disheartened about not giving the players the best plan. He talked about "pushing the players in a position that gets them outside their comfort level. When the players do that, respond the way we ask them to, I expect them to produce at a high level. I have a vision for this team, and we’re going to get that right. I’m not taking shortcuts. Everything stacks up for long-term vision."
He said he understands fan frustration, especially in light of the fact that this team reached the playoffs once in the previous 10 seasons.
"It’s not the fans’ job to be patient," he said. "It’s our job to go out there and give them something to cheer about. Fans buy tickets. Whatever they want to say in the stands, they bought that right. It’s our job to give them something to be proud of. It’s not their job to have blind faith in us. We have to go out there and put ourselves in position that the fan base has something to cheer for."
He doesn’t have much time to change things, but he sure seems ready to make changes. Whether that involves Garrett, we will soon find out. In the meantime, he told his players one thing after Monday’s loss to help get them ready for the Eagles next Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
"You show up on Wednesday ready to go," he said to them. "You just show up ready to go."