Joe Judge said he would have to go back and watch the tape from Friday’s scrimmage before committing to any assessments on particular plays or particular players. That makes sense. With all of the moving parts on the field for Friday’s festivities, and the speed at which they were interacting, there was a lot to digest.
Yet there was one part of the process that required no replays, no slow-motion breakdowns. It was the part that was tangible, that had to be felt and not exactly seen. Which is why Judge was perched right behind the offensive huddle and right behind the line of scrimmage for nearly every snap of the two-hour-plus workout. And the player he was most keyed into during that time was Daniel Jones.
Judge didn’t necessarily care how many passes Jones completed, how many touchdowns he threw, how many times he was picked off. What he wanted to know was whether the second-year quarterback had the intangibles of the offense down. Quite simply: Did Jones get it?
“Very much so,” Judge said after the practice.
It was the first time the quarterback and the coach took the new offense out for a spin, running it through a test drive against a somewhat familiar defense but allowing it to live and breathe. There was no script; each play call grew organically from the previous one based on down and distance. And Jones was the driver.
“The things you can’t see on film are the command,” Judge said. “You can’t see on film the way he is in the huddle. You can’t see on film the presence our players have at the line of scrimmage. That’s why I was standing where I was to make sure that I could really feel our guys out there on the field and get a sense of how they are interacting with each other and who’s really out there dictating what’s going on.”
Judge said he wasn’t surprised Jones handled those aspects well. “He does it every day in practice,” Judge said.
“But he went out there in a competitive situation and really stepped up,” he said. “He has good command situationally. He knows how to use some of the variety of calls and checks within our offense… I was very pleased to see how he commanded the entire team and kept everyone moving through the situation.”
That’s not to say there weren’t hiccups. Jones and the first team offense started slowly, struggling to move the ball against the first-team defense. He had two early passes batted down and threw an interception on a deep pass intended for Golden Tate (rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes made an acrobatic catch on it).
Eventually things began to click a little better. Jones was 5-for-6 on a long 11-play no-huddle drive late in the scrimmage that ended with a touchdown pass to Kaden Smith. And Jones finished strongly with a touchdown pass to an open David Sills (safety Jabrill Peppers cramped up on the play resulting in the defensive breakdown). He finished the event 14-for-25 with an interception and the two touchdowns.
“There were some things that we need to correct, things we need to work on,” Jones said. “I think that’s part of the process and the reason we are out there. As it went on and we got into some of the more play-it-out situations, I thought we got into a rhythm and made some plays. That was encouraging… Overall, I was encouraged by what were able to do.”
And Judge? He was more encouraged by what Jones was able to convey than how he played.
“I see a lot of confidence in his eyes when he goes to the line of scrimmage,” Judge said. “Now how that plays out, he still has a lot more ways to go to really reach his potential. But he’s working every day to get there and it’s enjoyable to watch.”
Notes & quotes: Holmes’ interception was one of the stellar defensive plays of the scrimmage, but on the return he was hit by fellow rookie Andrew Thomas and fumbled. Judge said he was pleased with the effort from the offensive lineman. As for Holmes? “Darnay is going to get ripped for fumbling the ball,” he said … Some of the less-recognizable players who stood out in the scrimmage included WR Alex Bachman and RB Javon Leake. Tae Crowder and Carter Coughlin, both late-round drafts picks at linebacker, were also active … S Xavier McKinney, WR Corey Coleman and LB Ryan Connelly did not participate in the scrimmage. While Coleman and Connelly are both coming off ACL injuries last year, Judge said all three were sidelined to balance their workloads … The players are off Saturday and return to practice on Sunday.