Anyone who watched the New York Giants fall to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Monday night, had to come away with the fact that the Giants’ offensive line is still a work in progress.
That’s putting it kindly. Head coach Joe Judge tore into the group this week after the Giants could only gain 29 yards on the ground (22 of which came on scrambles by quarterback Daniel Jones) and allowed eight hits and three sacks on Jones.
Guard Will Hernandez, who is coming off a trying season after an impressive rookie year in 2018, says the line is moving forward and planning on getting better every week.
“Anybody who put that on tape deserves to be called out,” Hernandez told reporters on Friday. “We definitely learned from it. We had an attitude of we’re going to practice hard and we’re going to show it the next opportunity we get, which is this Sunday.”
The starting line had only two starters from last year, Hernandez at left guard and right guard Kevin Zeitler. Andrew Thomas, the team’s top draft pick this year, started at left tackle and free agent addition Cam Fleming started on the right side. Many felt part of the problem was communication, which is largely the responsibility of the center. The Giants are operating this season with Nick Gates at center. Gates, swing tackle and plug-in guard, had never snapped the football in a live NFL game before Monday night.
Hernandez downplayed the communication angle. He believes they will get it straightened out over time.
“We’ve got five guys on the offensive line that all are capable, all are willing to make the calls and have the calls down,” he said. “Everybody has it down. It’s just a matter of coming out, going out and doing your job. Everybody doing it, not only doing your job but doing it at a high level. That’s something that we all need to step up for sure, including myself, starting with me. Go out there and just be in sync.”
The former second round pick out of UTEP isn’t angling for perfection , just consistency.
“Any time you come out, there’s always going to be good and bad and good. I think that it can always get more consistent. I’m talking about for me and everybody on the team specifically. Everybody can get better at something. The perfect game doesn’t exist, so the answer to that is yes, it can definitely be more consistent.”
As for Gates, the team still has confidence in him even though they have an experienced center in Spencer Pulley standing in the sidelines.
“Nick’s awesome, man” said Hernandez. “Talk about somebody that can do it all from tackle to guard to center. He’s definitely a guy that was put in there for a reason. He’s not there to see if he can do it, but because he can do it, he’s there. He definitely knows how to direct a huddle. Helps us out, helps the tackles out. He definitely takes charge. He handles the huddle and the play calling very well.”