Joe Judge purposely stayed away from praising his Giants players publicly for months, preferring to wait until he got to work with them before establishing expectations.
That has changed for Daniel Jones, the Giants' franchise quarterback and Eli Manning's successor, as Judge finally offered insight into what he sees in one of his team's most important players.
Let's just say Jones has a fan in his new coach.
“I’m very excited about working with Daniel," Judge said Thursday during an interview on the "Tiki and Tierney" show with hosts Tiki Barber, the former Giants great, and Brandon Tierney on the CBS Sports Network. "I love his toughness. I love his competitiveness. Those shine through right away. I want to be fair to Daniel right now and let him have the opportunity to learn the offense that he’s working in right now that he’s never taken a snap in, and let him progress at his rate and develop his career over the course of time that’s going to meet the expectations that we set internally.”
Judge and his coaches, including new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, have yet to get on the practice field with the Giants, Jones included, as the NFL continues to work through the league restrictions and social distancing guidelines in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But the Giants did begin their offseason program by working remotely via video conferencing last week, and Jones has been front and center — albeit from a computer monitor at his childhood home in Charlotte.
Jones threw for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, garnering the respect of his teammates. There is plenty to work on, with a priority being finding a way to limit his 23 total turnovers, and Jones has acknowledged the importance of that to his success.
And the Giants took a step toward investing in Jones' continued development by selecting offensive tackle Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 overall pick in last week's NFL Draft.
“I love working with this guy every day. He’s got a fire that burns in him," Judge said of Jones, who turns 23 later this month. "He brings other guys along with him. He shows up every day. He knows what you’re going to teach before you’re teaching it in terms of being prepared on material. He sets the tone for the room, and we’re very excited [for] when we finally get these guys in person. I’m glad he’s on our team. I’m really glad he’s on our team."
Judge's sentiment matches that expressed by Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, and general manager Dave Gettleman, all of whom have talked in reverence about how Jones handled his rookie season at the side of Eli Manning.
At Manning's retirement news conference in January, with Jones watching in the crowd from the back of the room, Mara acknowledged the presence not only of the quarterback walking away, but that of the one he believes is ready to embrace the next challenge.
"I hope I'm here in 2036 to watch Daniel do the same thing," Mara said.
Meanwhile, with his focus on the present, Judge finally went out of his way Thursday to let everyone know what he thought of his quarterback — and that praise was the best thing Jones and the Giants could have heard.