Perhaps no other unit mirrors the Giants’ up-and-down nature as their offensive line. They have overachieved versus preseason expectations but underachieved given that the team leads the NFC East. Big Blue’s O-Line ranks near the top of the league with respect to run-blocking but near its bottom in terms of pass blocking. Moreover, they are one of football’s most disciplined units, tied for second regarding penalties.
Like the team in general, the offensive line has had to deal with its fair share of injuries while also having to integrate rookie Ereck Flowers into the starting rotation in place of Will Beatty. Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty assessed Flowers, among others, while speaking to the media on Monday.
“As I said in training camp, working with him a little bit in the spring, then we get a chance in the summer, I really like his attitude, his play strength, he wants to be a tackle in the NFL," noted Flaherty. "His technique was something that we knew needed to get better. I think you see flashes of his technique. As a coach, I don’t see enough of it yet, but that’s coaching more than playing and he’s got to learn to trust the NFL technique. It’s really difficult for young player when he gets in—he’ll do it in practice, he works hard at it in practice, he’s the kind of guy you love to coach, but when you get into a game situation, a lot of times the young players revert back to what they’ve been doing and that’s the thing we’re—going into game 11 here against the Redskins coming up, that’s where we have to show more than flashes, we have to see the improvement.”
The bye week has come at an opportune time for the O-Line who will welcome back Justin Pugh.
“Justin has been playing well," said Flaherty. "Played very well down in Tampa, played hard down there and it took a great effort from everyone to win that game. Then the complications he had afterwards, I know it was disappointing to him.”
Flaherty also discussed the returning Weston Richburg.
“Weston, in 10 games at center, is progressing well," stated Flaherty. "He’s going to be a very, very good center here for a long time, I really do believe that. He’s got some growing pains, as they all do when they're playing a new position. It’s totally different. Although he was inside last year, he’s got more responsibility now, but he’s handling it. He works hard at it.”
The Giants are a middling 18th in terms of rush offense with Flaherty saying it is not due to any one reason, but a number of various factors including his O-Line.
“The running game is a combination and Eli does a great job in putting us in the right situations," said Flaherty. "We have to execute better and to execute, it starts with the offensive line and then the tight end position and the running back position. As I mentioned to the offense this morning because we showed some clips, I said that it really starts with the offensive line because it starts with me. The next few days, when they’re healing their bruises and everything, I’ll be dissecting the run game and find out what we can do better and how. I really believe our techniques, the scheme that we go in against each week are going to benefit our offense to run the ball. It has not worked out that way. So when it doesn’t work out that way, I first evaluate what we’re doing and what formations we’re using and who we’re using at the point of attack. When you see an effective running game and you see flashes of it, but when you do the consistent part of it is the offensive line are straining through their techniques and we have not been as consistent with that.”