Publish date:

Despite criticism, and rash of player retirements, Joe Judge is sticking with his old-school approach

Three Giants players have retired in the week that camp has been open in East Rutherford, the latest coming after a team brawl in practice that forced the entire team to do sprints.

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge is a proud disciple of the Bill Belichick coaching tree, who also spent a few seasons at Alabama early on in Nick Saban's tenure in Tuscaloosa as a special teams assistant.

There is no doubt that Saban and Belichick's approach with everything has worked, including team and player discipline. The two goats of the coaching profession have everything that touches their team down to a science.

Heading into year two leading the Giants, Judge's practice approach has drawn attention on occasion for a, shall we say "old-school" approach in a variety of areas, like having coaches and players run for mistakes, and taping tennis balls to the hands of defensive backs.

That was on display again just the other day as a full-team brawl unfolded at camp, where young star quarterback Daniel Jones somehow dangerously found his way to the bottom of the pile.

Judge is a believer in having players run and take a lap after mistakes like jumping offsides, throwing interceptions, and making mental. If it costs the team in some way, Giants coaches and players will be running.

So what did Judge do after that full-team brawl? He had everyone line up for sprints.

From the looks of it, one veteran player had enough.

Former Cowboys offensive lineman Joe Looney, a veteran with just under a decade in the league with the Niners, Titans, and Cowboys, signed with the Giants over the weekend and got plugged into the Giants offensive line immediately to compete for reps.

As some tweets show, Looney shared that he came in not knowing that running penalty laps was a part of what he had signed up for, but at the time he shared he loved it and was embracing it.

Something changed after that running discipline following the team brawl though, as Looney decided yesterday to retire at 30 years old. Strange timing for a guy that hasn't even been with the team a week yet.

He's not alone. Since camp opened in East Rutherford about a week ago, three Giants have ultimately decided to retire.

Coaches reading this will see that in one of two ways.

1) Old-school or not, good for Judge to stick to his conviction and for building the team he best sees fit. 

OR...

2) Motivating players by fear is a tactic that simply isn't going to work with the current generation of players.

That second one is something you hear a lot from college coaches, where the approach caters to players starting with the recruiting process and stretches through their time with the program. Nothing illustrates that more than the way that facilities have become so player-centered over the past decade or so featuring things like barber shops, mini golf, and recording studios now in an effort to keep players happy, productive, and out of the transfer portal. To leave that and go to the business approach of the NFL where fear (whether that be keeping your job or running for a mistake) is a very real thing and is a significant jump not everyone is going to be ready to embrace.

Judge is far from the only coach in football using fear as a motivator. It's highly successful for a number of coaches that have a ton of wins to their name, but (right or wrong) it comes with its fair share of criticism as well.

Neither approach is 100% right or wrong, and really the ultimate barometer of Judge's success will be how the Giants perform. Belichick's recent coaching tree hasn't exactly blossomed after they've left the nest in New England, but sooner or later one of them is going to.

The team went 6-10 in year one under Judge, finishing 2nd in the NFC East while showing some bright spots. They've got some young pieces to build with, and one of the keys will be how players continue to respond to Judge's unconventional approach at times.