Joe Judge could drive, of course, hitting the gas pedal from his temporary apartment just outside the Giants’ team facility in East Rutherford, N.J., to what soon enough will be his former home in North Attleborough, Mass. But what the heck would he do on the ride?
Listen to music? Tune in to sports talk radio? Hit the Bluetooth and catch up with old friends?
Umm … no. There is no car ride for the Giants’ new head coach.
“You just have to kind of create more hours in the day if that makes sense,’’ Judge said recently at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “You have to be very clear on how you’re managing your time. It starts early, you work late. If I’m commuting back and forth, if I’m going home on a couple weekends to see the family in Massachusetts, I’m watching gymnastics and basketball games. I’m watching tape on the train ride up. I’m taking a train instead of driving so I can work the whole way, because you can’t waste time.’’
There is no time to waste for Judge. His wife and four children will finish out the school year in Patriots country before moving to New Jersey. This allows Judge, 38, the time and space he needs to bore full-steam ahead.
He went through the demanding process of hiring his staff. He has engaged players at the team facility in casual conversation. Free agency is up next, and there is film work and evaluations to get through.
He attended the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and was at the combine for a full week. Even when there were no interviews with draft prospects or workouts to monitor, Judge kept his assistant engaged, “talking ball’’ as he likes to say, going over the roster and making sure any and all loose ends are tied up as far as how he wants his operation to run.
This is why as Judge put together his staff he made sure he hired people he worked with previously or had a personal or professional relationship with someone close to the coach he brought in. Again, this has to do with maximizing time, rather than squandering it.
“It’s going to be enough to get our players on the same page,’’ Judge said. “I didn’t want to waste time this season learning each other as coaches. That’s going to be a challenge enough as it is. If I didn’t work with you directly but you worked within a similar scheme or system, you have a better understanding of what I’m trying to accomplish and that there’s a rhyme and a reason behind certain things we’re going to do.’’
A younger boss guiding older assistants is no longer big news in the NFL. Still, there is an adjustment with every newly formed staff, and this is Judge’s first head-coaching assignment at any level.
The staff in this early juncture of the offseason is housed together in an apartment complex. Glamorous it is not. A welcome, though hardly lavish, respite is a trip to the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton. Closer to the start of football activities, the assistants will have found places to live and will separate to other Jersey environs. For now, it is one big busy Giants coaching family under the same roof.
“The unique thing is all of our families are somewhere else,’’ Judge said. “It’s basically like a college dorm. Not that we’re having toga parties, but just in terms of we’re together all the time, we’re commuting back and forth, we’re constantly talking ball, we’re in early, we’re working late.
“This is a great time for us to build that camaraderie and relationships that will carry us forward throughout the season. One thing you have to remember is the football season is a long season. Once you come together, it’s like a submarine and when those doors close and you go underwater, it’s just you and the team looking at each other on a daily basis.
“You have to establish throughout the spring and training camp who you are and the relationships you have that will carry you through the tough times, because there’s going to be a point where the outside is not so rosy, and right now it’s all big expectations and a lot of positive light. There’s going to be a point where on the outside, it’s very dark and gloomy. You have to make sure you have the trust in each other inside that you can get through those times.’’
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