Giants rookie receives high praise from former star player

New York Giants running back Eric Gray (20) celebrates his rushing touchdown  with center John Michael Schmitz Jr. (61) and wide receiver Jalin Hyatt (84) during the first half against the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants’ offensive line has struggled to play at a high level this season, despite investing resources to bolster the unit over the past two years. One of the team’s most exciting investments up front came in the form of their 2023 second-round draft pick, center John Michael Schmitz.

Through the first three games of his career, Schmitz has had his fair share of struggles on the field, facing off against some of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. However, the rookie has managed to keep a clear mindset and is emerging as one of the Giants’ leaders on the offensive side of the ball.

Schmitz receives high praise from former starting center

Former Giants center Shaun O’Hara praised the rookie, saying he “did a pretty good job” against some of the team’s tough matchups so far this season.

“I don’t know of any rookie that would have played well against Dallas in his first start and on the road in San Francisco, that’s a tough draw as well. I think he’s played two of the best defenses in the league right now. I thought he did a pretty good job with a lot of it. There are some plays he sure would like to have back. I don’t see anything that’s alarming like ‘Oh my gosh, this guy’s not going to cut it.’ There’s nothing pointing to that.”

Shaun O’hara via The New York Post

O’Hara, a three-time Pro Bowler, was a starter on New York’s offensive line from 2002 to 2009. He was the leader of Big Blue’s offensive line when they won Super Bowl XLII and has since developed a career in sports media. A second-team All-Pro in 2008, O’Hara knows what good play at the center position looks like.

The Giants have had a revolving door around JMS

Continuity is key, and continuity is something Big Blue’s offensive line has severely lacked this season (and many seasons prior). The offensive line has undergone a slew of adjustments. Players have left the lineup with injuries, some have been benched due to poor performance. This has caused Schmitz to start with a new face alongside him on the interior in every game this season.

In Week 1, LG Ben Bredeson and RG Mark Glowinski were the team’s starting duo. Glowinski was benched, paving the way for Marcus McKethan to take over at right guard in Week 2. Then, Bredeson suffered a concussion in the team’s second game, shoving Glowinski back into the lineup at left guard.

In Week 3, the Giants made another change up front, plugging LG Shane Lemieux into the starting lineup. Now, with Bredeson soon exiting the concussion protocol, he is expected to retake his starting role at left guard. McKethan is expected to maintain his standing as the starter on Schmitz’s right shoulder.

The Giants are hopeful that this interior trio of Bredeson, Schmitz, and McKethan can be the combination that lasts the rest of the season.

Continuing to grow despite difficult circumstances

Schmitz is in a difficult environment with injuries and lineup changes plaguing the offensive line. As the team’s center, Schmtiz is responsible for calling protections up front and communicating with the line. This can be challenging when you are communicating with someone new every week, but Schmitz has risen to the occasion.

“You’ve got to be able to adjust,” Schmitz recently told reporters. “You never know what’s going to happen. You’ve got to be ready to just go out there, whoever the five that are out there, and go and compete.”

The rookie center has turned in respectable performances despite the difficult circumstances. For Schmitz, it’s all about continuing to have “the growth mindset” as he aims to improve his game and establish himself as a leader and a reliable starter on the Giants’ offensive line.

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