FOXBORO, Mass. — Joe Judge was feeling alright, alright, alright as he addressed the media before the Patriots’ latest training camp practice.
New England’s new quarterbacks coach channeled his inner Wooderson at the podium, quoting the iconic Matthew McConaughey character to stress the importance of finding ways to relate to the modern NFL player.
“You always learn on how I’m doing with new players, how to deal with different types of personalities,” Judge said. “I think one of the things as coaches we have to understand is it’s kind of like ‘Dazed and Confused’: We get older, they stay the same age. The players, they’re not getting older with us. They’re still in the same age bracket. We get older. We’ve got to learn (to relate to) different generations — what their interests are, what they react to, how they are personality-wise.”
Though the movie reference made for an entertaining quote — and a somewhat ironic one, seeing as most current Patriots players weren’t born when “Dazed and Confused” released in 1993 — Judge’s point is valid.
Understanding how players learn and react in different situations is a vital and underrated part of a coach’s job. The 40-year-old former New York Giants head coach said he surveys other coaches, teachers and even his own middle- and high-school-age children to ensure he’s staying as in-the-loop as possible.
“That’s important for us to stay up and current and do our research, especially in the offseason,” Judge said. “Talking to a lot of experts, talking to a lot of teachers at the high school, college level, coaches at that level, as well. Because they’re dealing with the players in that age group, that generation, before we get them, so our best resource is coaching these players before we get them.”
Among Judge’s pupils this season is the Patriots’ most important player: 23-year-old starting quarterback Mac Jones. His position group also features fourth-round rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe, along with 36-year-old journeyman Brian Hoyer.
Judge spoke highly of Jones on Monday, saying the young signal-caller responds well to a variety of teaching methods.
“Some guys are more visual learners or more auditory, where you can sit there and almost just describe it and they are good. A lot of guys have to get on their feet and do it. Mac has an ability to do all three,” Judge said. “He has an ability to hear something and conceptualize it pretty fast. He has the ability to see an example and understand how it is going to play out in different situations.
“One thing that is very good, he applies his experiences (in) walkthrough, practice. You can see he corrects and adjusts and corrects issues before they become an issue pre-snap. That has been good to watch.”