As the Giants Zoom through their virtual offseason program with the next phase set to begin under an as-yet-announced format next week, head coach Joe Judge is starting to plan for training camp and a time when he and the team can actually be on a field.
Where that field will be located is one of the biggest unknowns in the process.
Judge, speaking on a video conference call on Tuesday, said he would prefer to have training camp at the team’s facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey as it has been for the past seven summers. But he also acknowledged that the team is considering options to move the preseason workouts elsewhere in case work-from-home guidelines remain in place for the region come mid-July.
“Our opps [operations] department is doing a great job right now mapping out a lot of different scenarios in terms of if, for some reason, we have to relocate,” Judge said. “They’re making connections around the area and around the country as to whatever we may need to do. We’re waiting on directions from the league in terms of making decisions on that. Hopefully, in a perfect world, we’re all back together in New Jersey training sooner than later, but we’re planning for a lot of hypotheticals to make sure that if they come up we are not caught by surprise.”
Judge, a first-year head coach who has never personally met many of his players, is likely the most antsy person in the world to see the Giants’ schedule return to normal. But he said all of the decisions regarding where and when and how the team comes together at some point will be guided by one overarching philosophy: Keeping everyone safe.
That’s one of the reasons why he is in no rush to require the players to congregate in Jersey – or anywhere else for that matter – at this point. For now, the computer meetings and video classrooms will have to do.
“I think right now with the climate in the country, we have to consider first off the safety of our players traveling across the country, getting on flights, traveling through cars,” he said. “The first thing we talk about in all of these conversations is: Are we 100 percent certain the players will remain healthy and we are not putting anyone at risk? I have a tough time right now asking a player to fly across the country from California when I probably wouldn’t be the first one to drop my two sons on a plane to go the other way.
“We have to consider the big picture of what is going on.”
The NFL, meanwhile, seems intent on starting its 2020 season in September – it released its schedule last week -- so the Giants will have to begin practicing at some sort of training camp. In the event it’s not within sight of the Manhattan skyline, moving to a remote location would present a load of logistical hurdles. The Giants haven’t had a remote training camp since 2012 when they were in Albany.
“If we can’t practice in [our] facility I would just like it to be the best setup possible,” Judge said. “There are a lot of factors that go into that in terms of field space, training room, weight room, food for the players, room and accommodations.”
Judge also said he likes having camp at “home” because veteran players can be with their families on off days and interact with them as they come off the field after practices. All of which points to the likelihood of training camp remaining in the southwest corner of the Meadowlands complex.
“Right now we are mapping out training camp assuming we open up on Sept. 14 with the Steelers,” Judge said.
There are a lot of assumptions, a lot of precautions, and a lot of variables . . . many which will be determined in their own course. As for the location of Judge eventually blowing his whistle for the first time as head coach of the Giants, he has a preference but doesn’t yet know for certain.
“I can’t answer that as a hard question, it’s a little bit more of a hypothetical,” he said. “But I’d rather be in the facility than anywhere else.”