It’s a mistake for former Bill Belichick assistants to act like Bill Belichick, who brusque demeanor is backed up by six Super Bowl wins. It’s not a mistake for former Bill Belichick assistants to incorporate lessons learned from Belichick.
Giants coach Joe Judge recently told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post that Judge will form a leadership council, like the one Belichick uses with the Patriots.
“We definitely will,” Judge told Schwartz. “Nothing’s been formally structured right now. Normally those start to emerge in the spring. Really with our new exposure to these players, we wanted to go ahead and get through a spring.”
Judge will make the selections during training camp, with feedback from his assistant coaches.
“We’ll grab some guys we believe represent a larger part of the team,’” Judge said. “We don’t have a specific number narrowed down. I’ve been exposed to all different ways of doing that, whether it’s one guy per position or guys of different ages. For us, we have to identify the makeup of our team in training camp and see what the best fit we can do with that.”
In New England, Judge served as the primary liaison to Belichick’s leadership council, so Judge knows what he’s looking for.
“To me, the biggest thing is, who’s willing to talk to you?” Judge said. “You can tell the players willing to walk into your office and sit down across from you and tell you the thing that’s the tough thing to say. That’s the guy who normally needs to be representing the players, because he’s not afraid to speak up on what needs to be said.”
He’s right, but there’s another important quality about which coaches need to be more discreet. They want players who can and will accept and spread messages from the coach. Sometimes, that message comes across to the members of the leadership expressly. On other occasions, it’s more subtle.
This year, it will be critical for coaches to impress upon team leaders the urgency of impressing upon all players (especially the young ones) the importance of going straight home after practice and doing nothing but watch film, study the playbook, and play video games. Whether that takes nightly video conferences among players or position groups to ensure that the players are at home or every young player sharing his phone location with one of the older players or whatever else they can think of to protect the younger players against temptations that could lead to infection, the teams with the best veteran influence on young players will be best equipped to avoid an outbreak.
This year, in what could be the ultimate war of attrition, the team with the most starting-caliber players not in quarantine will be the most likely to win the Super Bowl, if the Super Bowl is played. The coaches who can best persuade his leaders to ensure that the younger players do what they need to do will be best positioned to win this war of attrition.