Giants head coach Joe Judge looks on during the fourth...

Giants head coach Joe Judge looks on during the fourth quarter of the game against the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Chicago. Credit: Getty Images/Quinn Harris

Joe Judge certainly created plenty of buzz with his 11-minute answer when he was asked on Sunday why fans should have faith that he can turn the Giants around.

As Giants fans and football observers returned to their post-holiday lives on Monday, it was what we used to call a water-cooler topic before the pandemic eliminated such things.

Did you see it? Did you read it? What did you think about it?

The Giants’ locker room was no exception to such a reaction.

"I know some of the players were talking about it," running back Devontae Booker said Monday. "‘Have you heard what Coach Judge said?’ and stuff like that."

Booker said he didn’t pay much attention to it. "I didn’t bother honing in and seeing what he had to say," he noted.

Andrew Thomas said he, too, tried to remain oblivious. "I didn’t get a chance to see it," he said.

But the fact that the coach’s manifesto had become a topic of conversation not just on sports radio and national TV shows and back pages in the New York area but in the very epicenter of the realm of which Judge spoke made it that much more of a pivotal moment for the franchise and its future.

Judge, for his part, said Monday that he stands behind every one of the 2,600 or so meandering words and half-dozen non-sequiturs he produced as part of his lengthy oration.

"I was asked a specific question about what the fans are asking and I responded to it," he said. "People ask me direct questions and I give direct answers. Whoever is listening is going to get a dose of the truth and I was honestly answering to the fans since that was who the question was asked for. But obviously, the response can apply to a number of different areas."

That includes the media, ownership . . .   even the players.

Maybe it is what Judge wanted, because in the 24 or so hours after the 29-3 loss to the Bears, the focus of public scorn wasn’t on how badly the individual players on the field performed but on Judge and his depiction of the organization’s culture. He did say during the diatribe: "Whatever bullet gets fired, it gets fired at me. You got that? It’s got to go through me to get to them. That’s the way it is."

He certainly has taken his share of them during this self-created news cycle. In a week or so, we’ll see how much Kevlar he’s clad in.

After he extolled that locker room culture Sunday and said Monday — albeit after a brief hesitation — that he would consider the Giants a well-coached team, it was pointed out to Judge that if those parts are true, it means the players are no good.

Judge did not deny that premise, though he refused to say it directly when asked if what the Giants need is an infusion of talent on the roster.

"I’m not going to make any statements that put any of my players under the bus," he said. "I think you understand how I’m answering that question based on how it was phrased . . . If you are looking for someone to find a scapegoat and point a finger at someone, I’m not going to be the guy to give you the answer you’re looking for."

The players likely will hear that answer as well.

Certainly behind closed doors — and on the carpet in John Mara’s office when he is called in there after the conclusion of the season — Judge may have other things to say about the way the team was assembled.

They’re finishing the season with only one of the players they thought would be a starting offensive lineman on the field, only one captain who has played every game (kicker Graham Gano), and without a starting-caliber quarterback since Daniel Jones was sidelined in late November. How much of that falls on him will need to be decided at the uppermost levels of the organization.

For now, though, Judge seems intent on, and content in, giving people something to talk about besides how dreadful the players on the field actually are.

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