New York Giants head coach Joe Judge brought notecards to the table on Wednesday. Literally.
Perhaps prepared for what was to come following Golden Tate’s comments on Good Morning Football, Judge broke out the data to support his approach to conditioning and practice.
“I would say this in terms of our philosophy for this program and what we do, I’d emphasize what I’ve said all along with this, this is not an experimental program. This is a time-tested program that’s worked that I’ve been a part of on multiple levels, whether it was at the collegiate level or the professional level,” Judge began. “I’ve been a part of this with great success. Not only has it been a program that’s had success, it’s been a program that’s kept players healthy. There was a time we were the oldest team in the league and also the healthiest team in the league for a duration of several years. You look back in terms of what we did, in terms of last week’s practice specifically -– which I know the next question is going to be about –- actually, last week’s practice was a little bit less than what we’ve done in the past.”
Like we said… Judge somehow came prepared.
“It was basically the same format of what we’ve done on Wednesday and Thursday practices in the past. We pulled back a little bit. We work very hand-in-hand with our medical department, our sports science department to make sure we keep monitors on individual players and what their individual loads are. We’re very specific in terms of what we do with our guys on a daily basis and making sure we keep tabs on where they’re at,” he said.
How specific? Injuries were down in 2020. Most importantly, hamstring injuries were down.
Multiple Giants are currently out with hamstring injuries as of Week 4 (Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, John Ross, Logan Ryan).
“In terms of how we train our players with the emphasis of, number one, keeping them healthy. You go back to soft tissue injuries in 2020 (and) it was the lowest this organization has had in previous years, previous three seasons. Our hamstring injuries last year specifically were half the league average last year,” Judge said. “When we look at soft tissue injuries around the league last year, our reduced time of missed (games) -– while the NFL average went up, we reduced it by previous years.
“In terms of missed time in practice, we had the second-fewest missed practices in the NFL last year, the third-fewest missed games excluding the IR and among the fewest players last year to go to IR that didn’t return. Translation -– our guys are healthy enough to return after missing some time. The emphasis on our program starts with player health all the time. That’s it, point blank. These are things we explain to our players in the spring, in training camp and we reinforce it throughout the season. Simply put, high speed training is necessary to avoid soft tissue injuries.”
How an injury is sustained is also a matter of importance…
“Now, there’s things that happen and we look back and we examine everything that happens with any injury, whether it’s a collision injury, whether it’s a non-contact injury like (Linebacker) Blake (Martinez) had the other day or maybe it’s something that’s soft tissue, but we look through that all the time and dissect that,” Judge said. “So, in terms of the questions of how we’re practicing or what we’re doing, the volumes of practice last week not only were nothing new, they were actually a little bit less than they were in the past. In terms of specifically the conditioning you’re asking about, actually the only thing I did differently with conditioning last week was I didn’t condition on Thursday, so maybe that was a mistake.”
Judge seems like a fan of analytical data. However, he also says that has a limit.
The second-year coach argued that analytics can only take you so far. There are other factors and variables at play which reduce analytics to a mere tool in a tool-chest.
“Analytics is just a tool,” Judge said when asked about using data for decision-making in-game. “It’s nice to look at the numbers and how they go through the flow of the game, but the analytics change based on the opponent, based on who you have available for the game and how the flow of the game is going, too.
“You can look at a stat sheet all you want. I promise you if Excel was going to win football games, Bill Gates would be killing it right now. You got take those numbers as a tool and then you’ve got to go and factor in how your team is playing at the time and what the opponent has, as well. You’ve got to measure your strengths and weaknesses against the opponent every time, and then also in terms of flow of the game.”
Does anyone know how well Gates is faring on FanDuel? Tipico?
In total, Judge offered up 21,000 characters and nearly 4,000 words on Wednesday. Some of it was supporting data and analytics, and some of it was exposing the flaws. A moment of it was spent on the Microsoft co-founder.
It’s a weird time in East Rutherford.