There was nothing nefarious or ominous about Joe Judge’s reluctance to talk much, or at all, about Daniel Jones, in the days and weeks after Judge was hired as Giants head coach.
In fact, the reason for the reticence was fairly obvious to anyone not obsessed with conjuring up conspiracy theories.
“The reason I couldn’t evaluate this guy in the public is I didn’t know him early on,’’ Judge told The Post this week.
Despite not having Jones or the other players at the team facility during the entire offseason program, Judge nowadays has a much better handle on the quarterback he inherits.
In his interview for the job, Judge expressed confidence he could win with Jones running the offense and as one of the faces of the franchise. That was based on what he suspected, viewing Jones as an outside observer.
Judge has yet to get Jones “on the grass’’ — one of Judge’s go-to phrases — and plenty of work remains to forge a truly meaningful head coach-quarterback relationship, a bond that is so important in the development of a team. Based on what he has seen — mostly from staring into a computer screen — and what he has heard, based on numerous one-on-one conversations, Judge is encouraged that Jones, entering his second NFL season, has the right stuff.
“Now, after spending a length of time with him there’s a lot you find out about the guy,’’ Judge said. “There’s a lot more to his personality that maybe you see through an interview. There’s a lot of substance to the guy. There’s a lot of leadership to the guy. And there’s a lot of competitiveness to the guy.
“And those are things that are tough to find and you have to have within a quarterback. I love the fact he’s one of the guys, whether it’s sit in my office or call me on the phone, he’ll tell you the thing that’s tough to say. He’ll give you the feedback you need. He’ll have a good open conversation with you.’’
Judge is impressed how Jones was able to get 15-20 of his teammates on offense to gather in Austin, Texas for workouts over a two-week period. The Giants did not orchestrate these sessions and Judge says “I don’t know the exact guys that were down there.’’ This is outside team jurisdiction. Hearing about Jones’ recruitment skills provided Judge with further evidence Jones — who turned 23 on May 27, can lead his team. Judge said he will assemble a leadership council this season and it will be interesting to see if Jones makes the cut.
“Daniel’s really done a lot of things this spring to get guys together, whether it was through Zoom or FaceTime or things they organized on their own at different times,’’ Judge said. “He got guys together down there in Texas. He’s doing a lot of really good things to get the team going.
“He understood the limits of the situation he was in as far as being on the grass with players and he took some steps to kind of bridge that. He was far from the only one who wanted to get together, from what I understand, but he did a good job of getting them together. You just hope it’s productive when they go down there and everyone is safe in their travels.’’
Cornerback DeAndre Baker continues to await word whether the criminal charges against him in Miramar, Fla. will be dismissed or proceed to trial. He is charged with four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault stemming from an alleged incident May 14 at a house party. He is facing a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison for each of the four armed robbery charges.
Baker, 22, could remain with the Giants or see his NFL career washed away.
“All I can tell you right now is he’s on our roster right now and I’m not going to comment on any ongoing legal investigation,’’ Judge said.