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Joe Judge shrugs off criticism of having players run after practice mistakes

Giants coach Joe Judge has brought New England-style discipline to New York in his early days and Chris Simms and Mike Florio aren't sure how well it'll work with his new team.

First-year Giants coach Joe Judge is making players run in response to mistakes made at practice. Judge is taking some heat for that.

Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe said, for example, “This isn’t going to end well.”

Likewise, former NFL receiver Brandon Stokley, who played for the Broncos in 2009 when Josh McDaniels arrived as head coach, called the situation “Josh McDaniels 2.0.”

On Tuesday, Judge responded to the external criticism.

Everything we do has a purpose,” Judge said. “And we’re very intent on explaining to our team why we’re doing things we’re doing. I’m a big believer in educating our team in why we’re doing things. That we’re not just blindly out there winging it, trying to go ahead and enforce punishment. I explained the other day, when you make mistakes on the field, there’s consequences. In the game, it’s penalty yards. At practice, we have to understand there’s consequences for mistakes. This isn’t a punishment. It’s a reminder that we have to draw our attention and be more detailed in how we approach things.”

But consequences and punishment are basically the same thing. Punishment has various purposes; Judge is punishing those who make mistakes in order to deter the players who have made the mistakes and others who witness the aftermath of a mistake from doing something similar in the future.

Whatever the label, the goal is to get players to not make mistakes during games, in order to avoid the punishment/consequences that apply in that context: Penalties. And that’s one of the things Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a Joe Judge mentor, feels strongly about. Penalty yards provide free field-position advantages for the opposing team, and Belichick has no interest in giving the opponent that kind of an edge.

So Belichick, as Simms mentioned on Tuesday’s PFT Live based on his time in New England as a non-player, does those kinds of things. Belichick’s success lets him get away with it.

And this is one of the reasons why former Belichick assistants often struggle when they leave. Unless and until they win, the hard-ass (is it hyphened?) approach won’t necessarily be embraced, especially by a locker room full of players who aren’t accustomed to those tactics, which explains why they performed poorly enough that the last coach was fired, creating the opening for the Belichick assistant.

Win and they’ll buy in. Lose and they’ll grumble. And the media will, too; especially if/when the hard-ass tactics become manifested in the way they are treated.

Plenty of former Belichick assistants may not even realize they’re doing anything different. It’s just what they’ve witnessed during their time with Belichick, so it’s what they’ve absorbed. It’s critical, however, that they understand that it can become an all-in bet that requires a winning hand sooner than later, or the coach risks first losing his team and then losing his job.