Judge: Will never ‘disrespect the game’ like Eagles

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants coach Joe Judge made it clear what he thought of how the Philadelphia Eagles handled the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s loss to the Washington Football Team, a result that kept his team out of the playoffs: He was not happy.

Judge described his belief that it would be disrespectful to his players and the entire league — which made tremendous sacrifices to make this difficult season happen — if they went out and didn’t try to compete for 60 minutes in order to try to win a game.

“We will never do that as long as I am the head coach of the New York Giants,” Judge said Monday at the end of a two-plus minute answer to a question about whether he thought the Eagles did anything wrong.

Philadelphia put third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld into the contest for the fourth quarter of what at the time was a three-point game. Coach Doug Pederson insisted he was “coaching to win” and said his decision-making was not influenced by 2021 NFL draft positioning.

Washington won the game 20-14 to eliminate the Giants from the postseason. The WFT took the NFC East as a result.

Judge said he hasn’t talked to Pederson about what went down. Instead, he would let the Eagles speak for themselves on that in terms of how they approached the game.

The Giants coach said he was sitting in his office preparing for a potential playoff matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while Philadelphia-Washington was on in the background. But he sure seemed to notice exactly what went down.

“Obviously players have asked me throughout the day and I just can’t express that one thing to keep in mind from this season is that we had a lot of people opt in to this season. OK, we had a lot of people opt in. Coaches, players, family members as well,” Judge said. “So to look at a group of grown men who I asked to give me effort on a day-in, day-out basis and to empty the tank and then I can look them in the eye and assure them that I am always going to do anything I can to put them in a competitive advantage and play them in a position of strength.

“To me, you don’t ever want to disrespect those players and their effort and disrespect the game. The sacrifices that they made to come into work every day and test before coming in, to sit in meetings spaced out, to wear masks and have shields over those masks, to go through extensive protocols, to travel in unconventional ways, to get text messages at 6:30 in the morning telling them practice was going to be canceled we have to do a virtual day, to tell them please don’t have your family over for Thanksgiving, please avoid Christmas gatherings, we know it’s your wife’s birthday let’s make sure we put that one off until the offseason. There’s a number of sacrifices made by all the players and coaches in this league. There’s a number of sacrifices that comes along as well with the family members and people connected to them.

“To disrespect the effort that everyone put forward to make this season a success in the National Football League, to disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything they can to help those players win, we will never do that as long as I am the head coach of the New York Giants.”

Judge began his answer by noting the Giants (6-10) had 16 opportunities of their own this season, and said you don’t ever want to leave your fate in the hands of anybody else.

That’s what they did in this situation. New York needed to beat Dallas on Sunday afternoon (which they did 23-19), and then hope the Eagles could upset Washington at night. It didn’t happen, in part because the Eagles had a rather large contingent inactive for the game and then put rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts on the bench late in the contest.

“So we’re not gonna make excuses as an organization,” Judge said. “Not now, not ever. We had our opportunities.”

This was the message he expressed to his players as well during a Monday morning meeting. A handful of players who spoke with the media had a similar sentiment, despite a much different tone on social media during the game. It was clear this was at Judge’s direction.

Safety Jabrill Peppers said he was not angry. He used a similar line about never wanting to leave your destiny in another man’s hands.

“We had 16 opportunities to make it happen,” Peppers said, a line that seemed quite similar to what Judge said later in the day.

Peppers and several other Giants players also downplayed harboring any hard feelings toward the Eagles. They also publicly avoided saying next year’s matchup with their NFC East rivals would be circled because of this incident.

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