Patriots: Joe Judge is trying too hard to be like Bill Belichick

Joe Judge Coach of the Giants (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Joe Judge Coach of the Giants (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Former Pats coach Joe Judge is embodying Bill Belichick a little too much.

Joe Judge, who is now the head coach of the New York Giants, is already receiving backlash from the vaunted New York media. Padded practices started this past week, and Judge has the entire Giants team running for their lives, literally.

If you’ve ever seen Do Your Job Part II, the story of the 2016 New England Patriots, you’re well aware of the hills that Bill Belichick makes his players run after practice. You’ll also know that the conditioning New England does is a big reason they’re able to pull off miraculous comebacks, and for the 2016 Patriots, that manifested itself in Super Bowl LI.

Joe Judge remembers the hills that Belichick makes his players run, and decided to give it a try as a rookie head coach. In the Giants’ fully padded practice on Monday, both players and coaches were seen running laps for mistakes. Those watching practice described Judge as “yelling and screaming nonstop.”

Making players run after practice for conditioning is one thing. Interrupting practice to make a specific unit run for committing a penalty is another. Making Freddie Kitchens run around the field for a miscue he didn’t commit may just be where we should draw the line. Joe Judge may be running too tight of a ship, and if he keeps this up, he may be out of New Jersey before Kitchens finishes his second lap.

Should I also mention that Judge took the names off the backs of the players’ jerseys? He says, “We know who they are,” and that the team will grow closer without having to look at the name on the jersey. Perhaps Judge is not embodying Belichick with this move, but maybe someone else?

Discipline, conditioning, and the eliminating of mental mistakes are essential in winning football games. We’ve seen it in New England for the past two decades. Judge has worked with Belichick since 2012, and before that, he was employed by Nick Saban, so this should come as no surprise to see Judge take up his former bosses’ ways.

The only difference between Judge and Belichick/Saban? If anyone questions how they coach, they can just hold up their hand and show off their sparkling rings. The bottom line — their ideas have worked and won football games. Yes, Judge has had success as an assistant, but what Judge is doing so early on in his head coaching career is leading to him losing the locker room and coaching staff.

Belichick and Saban have an authority rested upon a strong foundation of winning games. Judge is smart for remembering his bosses’ ways of winning football, but not wise for forgetting the mistakes of Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia.

Matt Patricia was known in New England as The Mad Scientist. The nickname was earned in part for his background in rocket science, and also because he looks like one. In Detroit, I’m not sure I want to know what his nickname is, because he’s only been able to muster up nine wins in two seasons in the motor city.

Patricia, just like Judge, received some heat from the players on his coaching style. In November of 2018, Patricia’s first season in Detroit, he made players practice outside in a snowstorm, even though they have an indoor facility. Players hated it, especially Darius “Big Play” Slay.

Slay said he “lost all respect” for Patricia. Slay was traded to the Eagles back in March and was relieved to say goodbye to Patricia, who told him he “wasn’t elite” after making a Pro Bowl and recording eight interceptions in 2017. Slay wasn’t happy with Patricia’s antics, and the Lions aren’t pleased about Patricia’s record in Detroit.

Josh McDaniels had a short stint in Denver, and many attribute his demise to having too much on his plate. No one questions McDaniels’ prowess at calling plays, but he also called for personnel control, just like Belichick has, and might’ve bitten off more than he could chew. McDaniels also embodied Belichick when he was caught videotaping the 49ers walkthrough and was then fired midseason.

So, Joe Judge, what can we learn here? Your former boss has excellent tactics for winning football. He gets his players extremely prepared, has them in great shape, and makes few mistakes. Belichick can embody whatever method of coaching he needs to to get this done because of his resume. Judge, on the other hand, should be a little more careful with how Belichick-y he gets.

It is important not to lose the locker room, and just as important not to have your coaching staff resent you. Freddie Kitchens and Jason Garrett are both assistant coaches under Judge, and if they keep running laps, maybe they would like to see Judge get run out of East Rutherford.