Giants’ Joe Judge on the Falcons: ‘It’s a very well-coached team’

Credit: John Minchillo

Credit: John Minchillo

Giants coach Joe Judge, who is preparing to face the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, spoke to the New York media Wednesday.

He started with a long opening statement on the Falcons.

Here’s an edited version of what he had to say about the matchup:

Opening Statement: “We’ll begin our preparation for Atlanta….first off, it’s a very well-coached team. Have a lot of respect for (Falcons coach) Arthur (Smith) and how he puts his team together, how they approach the game. There’s obviously a lot of influence from different places he’s been. Starting it off in terms of the offense, (he) does a great job of working with (offensive coordinator) Dave (Ragone) in terms of putting a personal stamp on it. When you look at this offense, the first thing you want to think about are his days in Tennessee with (Titans running back) Derrick Henry – obviously, that’s a rare player, but I think he’s doing a great job piecing a lot of things together and he’s really using his weapons effectively.

“When you trace the stamp of this offense, it really goes back to the L.A. Rams days before bringing it over from L.A. to Tennessee. Obviously, some personnel decisions in Tennessee changed a little bit of that footprint, but watching as it changed and adjusted and as it continues to evolve right now in Atlanta, it’s been very interesting to watch.

“Offensively, you start with their explosive players.

Player comparison

“It starts with the quarterback. Obviously, (Falcons quarterback) Matt Ryan is one of the top quarterbacks in the last decade or so in this league. You go with the explosive receivers on the outside – (Falcons wide receiver Calvin) Ridley is as good as they come. He’s very savvy, runs great routes, has good hands, he’s very quick going up the field, he has very good agility in open space to make you miss if you’re not a good, sound tackler. Fundamentals in open space will be key against this guy and then also playing with good fundamentals in pass defense to not give him opportunities for open receptions.

“You go to the tight ends, I think obviously they have several good options there. I think (Falcons tight end Kyle) Pitts, the young guy, stands out. There’s a reason they took this guy so high in the draft, a reason why people liked him coming out. You can talk about this guy being a big receiver, but this is a guy who’s very capable of blocking and running their offense as a tight end. You see him in the last couple of games as the packages start to unfold and really develop with this guy, he’s definitely a threat down the field. You saw against Tampa him taking a slant and extending that thing and getting vertical with it, some of those pop passes over the seam. This guy is really a threat with the ball in his hands, he’s definitely a weapon.

“Then, between the running backs, I think the one guy who’s a little bit of a unique piece that goes in that stamp of Tennessee is (Falcons running back Cordarrelle) Patterson. One thing about CP is he’s a big, strong man whether you’re talking about him in the return game or in the offensive game. This guy really runs that wide zone scheme that they’re bringing from the L.A. days, the Tennessee days, the footprint of this offense. (He) does a great job of really stretching and running. When you watch this guy with the ball in his hands – I don’t care if it’s kickoff return or offense – the one thing this guy does is really build speed, put stress on your defense, sticks his foot in the ground and he gets vertical. The thing about this guy, you let him get going and he’s very hard to take down, he’s very big, he’s very strong, he’s very powerful.

“Without trying to group guys in the same category, I think there’s a lot of things they did with Henry in Tennessee that really apply directly over to how they’re using CP right now. Obviously, he’s a different piece in the pass game with how they use him. You can see him really starting to evolve with his role in the offense, had an explosive game against Tampa Bay. This guy is definitely someone you have to account for every time he’s on the field, whether he’s playing gunner covering kicks, whether he’s a kickoff returner, whether he’s on offense as a runner or a pass catcher. This guy has really gone ahead and developed his game throughout his career and built a lot of versatility on it.

“I think Ragone does a great job in terms of using the pieces with him and working with Arthur. It’s going to obviously be a lot of elements you see from his days in Chicago under that tree of (Bears head coach Matt) Nagy, that West Coast tree that kind of stems from (Chiefs head coach) Andy Reid. Does a great job of using things that really hurt you in the past.

“Defensively, I’ve got a ton of respect for (Falcons defensive coordinator) Dean Pees.

“This guy has been around for a long time for a reason. You could say on the surface that the defense comes from a similar tree, that there’s a lot of similarities between what we do and they do. I think the thing he does a great job of is really using the personnel he has available. You see a lot of guys that were in (Cowboys defensive coordinator) Dan Quinn’s defense last year that he’s turning and kind of using in a little bit of a different scheme, the way he’s using them up front and in coverage. He’s really doing an effective job right now. I think there are some things that you can look at on the stat sheet that are very misleading. This is a very aggressive defense.

“They’ve got speed off the edge to rush the passer, you saw that with the strip-sack (Falcons outside linebacker Dante) Fowler (Jr.) had on (Buccaneers quarterback) Tom (Brady) late in the game the other day. Obviously, they can get after you with the blitzes and the packages inside, that’s definitely something they do very well. They play that aggressive zone defense where they can disguise the looks.

“They can play three-deep or two-deep, really shade it. It really breaks down to giving you something short, breaking on you and then punching the ball out. This team is third in the league for forced fumbles for a reason. They’re very aggressive. You can see great eye control with these guys in open space, looking for bad fundamentals on ball security and they really look to attack it.

“There was the one they punched out on (Buccaneers running back Leonard) Fournette the other day. It was a great teaching clip for our team in terms of how they’re structured and taught to attack that ball. There’s going to be multiples in that defense. We’ve got to play very sound.

“Special teams-wise, (Special teams coordinator) Marquice (Williams) does a great job. He’s been around a lot of aggressive coordinators as he’s worked throughout his years in the league. He’s taken some things from each one of those guys, but he’s definitely putting his own personal stamp on it. The thing that really sticks out to me when you watch his tape is (they’re) aggressive. They’re aggressive in the return game with explosive returns to get this thing going. They’re definitely a home run threat every time they have the ball in their hands.”

Q: What makes Ridley such a dangerous receiver?

A: “It ain’t one thing. It’s not just one thing. I think this guy has got a lot of experience, number one. He’s very savvy. He has great awareness in space when he’s playing against zone of really finding the open spot. He doesn’t tip his routes at the top, that’s the other thing, too. He doesn’t get high in his pad level and his feet get out in front of his body – this guy can really run in press chest over knees over toes and make sudden cuts. He’s got very good agility, he’s very good athletically, he has very good hands and then that quickness to get going vertical. A lot of times you’ve got fast receivers, but when they get the ball in their hands, if you get them going – it’s kind of like that train going up the hill that’s got to get going to get the momentum. He’s one of those where he sticks his foot in the ground and he’s going. He hits top speed very quickly, so that separation of hitting that top speed fast overrides a top speed of someone maybe straight-line fast or they can’t get going as fast.”

Q: You talked about Ridley and what makes him so tough. How do you think (cornerback James) Bradberry has played so far this season?

A: “I’m pleased with the way James is progressing. There’s obviously things that every player on this team (has) to keep doing better and keep getting better. We’re far from a finished product, but I like the way he comes out, works and competes. I’ve seen a lot of production obviously in games. He’s competing for us. I think James is off to a good start for us.”

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Atlanta Falcons Schedule

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons at New York Giants, Sept. 26 at 1 p.m.

Washington FT at Falcons, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m.

New York Jets vs. Falcons in London, Oct. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

Here’s the rest of full schedule.