New York Giants head coach Joe Judge watches from the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. AP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Joe Judge would like to put whoever is in charge of the headsets in timeout. If not for them, the Giants wouldn’t be, well, burning all of their timeouts.
At least that’s what Judge said after the Giants’ 20-17 loss to the Chiefs on Monday night. By the 10-minute mark of the second quarter, the Giants had already burned two of their three timeouts — both on defense as there were miscommunications while trying to make substitutions.
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So by the time the Giants got the ball at the end of the half with less than two minutes remaining, they only had one timeout to spare. Their offense sputtered over a handful of plays, Daniel Jones kneeled to run out the clock, and so the Giants trailed 14-10 at halftime.
This wasn’t the first time the Giants have ran into trouble after calling timeouts at inopportune times this season. It’s been a frequent occurrence. But Judge said it’s not on the fault of any Giants coaches — it’s something electronic.
“The headsets were going out,” Judge said. “This has been happening in every game so far. We deal with the league and they keep telling us about different software updates or whatever it is.”
Judge said the Giants had to call those two timeouts because the headsets weren’t “getting reception” when they were trying to make substitutions.
“That’s the issue right there,” Judge said. “We are trying to make the right call … We have to make sure the hardware is working. So whatever the issue with that is, the people involved better get it fixed fast.”
Judge only pointed to those two instances on Monday night as moments where he felt like the technology failed, though he said “at every single stadium this year, home and away, I’ve had issues personally.”
The Giants tried to go back to old equipment from past seasons — Judge said he had no issues in 2020 — but the NFL denied that request. This harkens back to a moment from Ben McAdoo’s time as Giants coach:
In 2016, the Giants were having trouble with headsets during a game so McAdoo and his staff started using walkie talkies instead. That was a violation of the NFL’s game operations policy, and the league penalized the team harshly. The organization was fined $150,000 and McAdoo was fined $50,000. The Giants also had a fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft fall further than its original slot as part of the punishment.
Judge never pulled out any walkie talkies.
“If we can’t rely on the equipment then we’ll try to figure something else out,” Judge said. “We tried at one point to go back to the old equipment but they told us we weren’t allowed to do it for whatever reason. We didn’t have issues with it last year. Hopefully we figure it out …
“Whoever is in charge of it, I don’t know if it’s through the league or us exactly, but they’ve gotta fix it fast. That’s it.”
The Giants coach also seemed to be unclear about whether this was an NFL matter or an issue to be dealt with internally, but an article in PC Mag from earlier this year seems to indicate the league runs the show as it relates to the headsets.
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According to PC Mag, the NFL uses Bose SoundComm B30 headsets that come with a built-in boom mic, as well as hardwired cabling to connect to the rest of the fairly complex audio signal chain that allows coaches to communicate. Per PC Mag, there are sideline technicians who arrive four hours before kickoff to test all the gear and oversee its use during the game. PC Mag describes a complex system that allows coaches to communicate with each other during a game.
The gist: Audio is carried to and from the headset via a hardwired XLR cable, which connects to a belt pack intercom box. Each box features programmable buttons that coaches and teams can customize by coordinating with the sideline technicians before the game. The coach can press one of four buttons to hear only the offensive or defensive coordinator, while another button might allow all coaches to hear him. The intercom box is then connected to a radio box, also on the belt, that wirelessly transmits the audio signals to other coaches.
“So when a coach blames their headset in a post-game press conference,” PC Mag writes, “headset is shorthand for a complex chain of near-military-grade communication devices and technology.”
Judge railed against the headsets for most of the early part of his press conference, but still insisted he didn’t want to make the Giants’ loss to the Chiefs — which dropped their record to 2-6 — only “about the stupid headsets. That’s not what this is about. That wasn’t the factor of the game, we gotta do other things on our own to make sure we have success.”
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Zack Rosenblatt may be reached at [email protected].
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