The Giants won’t take any cues from antagonizer Rex Ryan under Joe Judge’s watch.
Especially not this week.
Judge, who spent eight years as a New England Patriots special teams coach, was asked Saturday if he ever saw an opponent that lost a game before kickoff because they were in awe of future Hall of Famers Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick. Brady and Gronkowski — now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — are on the menu for the Giants on “Monday Night Football.”
“I can’t think of any times before the game where we knew they lost because they were in awe,” Judge said, “but I think there were times we played that we knew they lost based on how they were going to handle situations with the weather — and there were other times we saw teams that came in too overconfident and too over-focused on just a couple people.”
Any specific examples come to mind?
“I can recall games with Buffalo circa 2014-15-16 and there were a lot of times where there was too much stuff pregame,” Judge said, “and you kind of understood, ‘They are not really tuned in to the game. They are worrying too much about some kind of matchup or something that they had heard or read about in headlines that week and not really focused on the game.’”
In Buffalo, Ryan called them the “hated Patriots,” said he had “sources inside the [Patriots’] building” and impersonated a reporter on a conference call with Julian Edelman. It was a continuation of the needling he started as coach of the Jets, when he called season-ticket holders and asked them to show up against the Patriots and infamously declared “I’m not here to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings.”
“Normally when I see that from teams, you know they are not locked in for 60 minutes on the situations that come up and the adjustments within the game, that, to me, is always the trigger,” Judge said. “The emotion within the game is something you have to balance.”
The Patriots were 14-2 against the Bills during Judge’s tenure, including 3-1 when Ryan was on the other sideline in 2015-16. Doug Marrone earned the Bills’ other win in 2014 — but the Bills are favored against the Patriots this Sunday.
The Giants lost to Brady last season but haven’t faced Gronkowski since 2015, which pre-dates the arrival of any players on the roster. Either way, with the exception of ex-Patriots Logan Ryan and Nate Ebner, these Giants know those immortal names more from video games played in college dorms.
“It’s not coming in in awe of a team,” Judge said of the fatal mistake in preparation, “but coming in overconfident or coming in focused on the wrong thing. We always try to bring it back with our players to, ‘You have your job and your responsibility to focus on. Keep it to that. Let’s make sure we focus on the keys and techniques we have to execute within the game.’ If we can tie that together for 60 minutes, the results are pretty good.”