Finding the proper, or at least appropriate, work-life balance is always a challenge for NFL head coaches, who are in a profession where leave-the-house-too-early and return-home-too-late is an ongoing grind.
For the next month, the grind comes to a halt. Well, maybe not a complete halt, but certainly a pause. Joe Judge knows when it revs up again, it is on, and he, his coaching staff and his Giants players are all in it together, for the long haul.
“Look, when the season starts, once training camp goes, that submarine goes under and it’s just us,’’ Judge told The Post recently. “So I got to make sure right now, while we’re above the water, I spend as much time as I can with my family and have the summer we get somewhat accustomed to every year.’’
So much has not been anything anyone is “somewhat accustomed to’’ working through days and weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic. Judge, as a first-time head coach at any level, had a plan carefully laid out on how he wanted to implement his systems and philosophies and culture. He never got the chance to gather his team together in person, not even once, before COVID-19 restrictions forced remote interaction for the entire offseason workout program.
That program finished up for the veterans a few weeks ago, and rookies closed up last week. It is time for a break, even if everyone has been working from home for so long.
“I told our coaches I’m not going to bother them until training camp,’’ Judge said. “And if I call them, it will be something important. I’ve got work on my own to do. I’ll be in contact, obviously, with management and ownership. I’m giving the coaches a break, I’m giving the players a break from hearing my voice for a little bit. I’ve got enough things I’ve got to get done. I’m framing out my days that I’ve got plenty of family time. I’ve got to make sure I have that with the kids through the summer.’’
Judge, 38, wife Amber and their four kids are adjusting to life in New Jersey after eight years in North Attleboro, Mass., working for the Patriots. The new house, in Franklin Lakes, is a Big Blue hotbed, with former Giants Phil Simms, Shaun O’Hara and Chris Snee all nearby.
“There’s a list of guys that have shot me a text saying ‘I’m not too far from your neighborhood, if you want to get together and grab a beer,’ or something like that,’’ Judge said.
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Checking out the new neighborhood will be more invigorating than the task of setting up shop in new environs and turning a house into a home. In this endeavor, Judge knows he has yet to hold up his end of the bargain.
“We’re kinda unpacking boxes,’’ he said. “Really, my wife’s unpacking boxes. I’ve been staring at a computer. Now that I broke the vets on the 12th, she’s kinda reminded me I’ve got several rooms I’ve got to get to and address with her.’’
Judge chuckled while admitting he’d become “numb’’ to the housing market in tiny Jersey suburbs.
“The biggest shock to me when we were shopping were the taxes,’’ Judge said. “I was looking at prices and just thinking ‘OK, I can just accept it’s more expensive’ and then a lot of the taxes, I was like ‘Wow.’ And the variance of towns. We looked in Ridgewood at one point and the taxes were like, it didn’t matter where you bought, were like $60,000. I thought ‘Jeez, that better be the best snow removal in the history of the world.’ ’’
Time off will also be time spent on self-evaluation. Judge said he makes notes every day on the different situations he encountered thus far, how he handled them and what he could have done better.
“The good thing is I have guys on the staff I have good, established relationships with that are very honest with me, and I can ask them flat-out and get honest feedback,’’ Judge said.
“I can say this much, I’m more critical of myself than anyone else is gonna be on the outside. Every day at the end of the day I put down notes on myself, like I do on everybody else, and what I think I did adequate and what I need to improve on. There’s always a lot more ‘improve ons’ than ‘adequates.’ ’’
Judge will have time to improve the grade he assigns to himself. After he empties out all those boxes.