NFL teams
Jordan Raanan, ESPN Staff Writer 45d

Joe Judge accepts blame for New York Giants' struggles, says, 'The fish stinks from the head down'

NFL, New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Joe Judge isn't putting the blame elsewhere for his team's 1-5 start -- he's looking right in the mirror.

"There's your answer. I'm the head coach. It's my responsibility, point blank," Judge said Thursday. "Every player on this field, every position group, the execution, it all comes down to me. The fish stinks from the head down.

"I've been taught that from great guys who I worked for, played for. There are no excuses, no exceptions. You demand it from your coaches to make sure that the players are playing the right way. You demand it of the players to know what to do and then go out there to do it.

"But it starts with me and ends with me."

The Giants have dropped their past two games and are coming off a 38-11 demolition last Sunday at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams. They've lost all three of their home games this season by a combined score of 82-38.

Judge, who is 7-15 since taking over as head coach, insists he's not feeling the pressure.

"To me, the only time you really feel any kind of pressure and nerves is when you're unprepared," he said. "If you're prepared and you go through the tasks and process at hand and you're consistent with it, then you go in with confidence.

"That is what we preach to our guys. We come out here and practice every week, prepare a certain way every week. We have to go out there better and execute better to have the results that we want."

Starting safety and defensive captain Logan Ryan likes what he's hearing and seeing from Judge despite the rough start, including putting the blame on himself. Ryan did much of the same Thursday when he spoke to reporters, beginning with his intention of focusing on what he needs to do better before handling other responsibilities.

"You've got to respect that. You've got to respect when people take ownership," Ryan said of Judge's comment about how it starts at the top. "Finger-pointing, blaming is an easy thing to do. You have to respect a coach who says it starts with him to get the team prepared.

"I agree. It does start with him. It starts with me individually to lead myself and lead my unit as well. I think all of us are up here taking ownership. We can only answer the questions how we can. When there is negative stuff going on, there are only so many answers. At the end of the day, we need more positive results and I think that starts with people taking ownership. So it's a good sign."

Judge has vowed that the Giants, who spent big in free agency to upgrade the roster this offseason, will turn it around.

"This is definitely going to get better, so there you go," Judge said earlier this week. "I don't know what kind of guarantee [the fans] want, but I can assure everyone out there that's a Giants fan and they want to know when it's going to turn, I can tell them right now we're working tirelessly to make sure we get this thing turned around in the right direction, not just for short-term results, but for long-term success."

Turning around their season will not be easy for the banged-up Giants heading into their home matchup Sunday with the Carolina Panthers. Star running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and wide receivers Kenny Golladay (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle) were not at practice again Thursday, while starting left tackle Andrew Thomas (foot/ankle) went on injured reserve earlier this week.

Judge said Barkley, Golladay and Toney "all made progress" on Wednesday, and the team would see if they can get on the field by Friday. It still seems highly unlikely any of the three would play against the Panthers. Sources told ESPN earlier in the week it was "doubtful" that Barkley and Golladay, who both were out against the Rams, would return this week.

Judge has refused to use the injuries as an excuse and has been adamant about focusing on the process and daily grind. It seems to have been well received in the building.

"Joe's our leader. We all look to our leader for strength. He's done a hell of a job, I think, of keeping the team moving forward," special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said.

McGaughey later added: "Joe is a tough guy. Joe is mentally tough and he's doing a great job with our team as far as the leadership part of it. Keeps expressing to focus on the task at hand, and that is to win today. You don't have a chance on Sunday if you don't win today. So we're focusing on right now being where our feet are."

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