In the 1980s, New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells dubbed the offensive linemen “The Suburbanites”, since the majority f them would pull up into the stadium parking lot in family-oriented vehicles with baby seats in the back.
They were anything but that on the field, as they dominated the trenches en route to two Super Bowl championships. Current Giants head coach Joe Judge has a lot of Parcells in him. He does, however, come from the Parcells coaching tree by virtue of working under Bill Belichick, Parcells’ longtime defensive guru.
The Giants’ offensive line is being rebuilt and with a new position coach (Marc Columbo joins holdover assistant Ben Wilkerson this year), the Suburbanites could be in for a revival. Columbo, a former Boston College star offensive tackle, was actually a player under Parcells in Dallas and credits the Hall of Fame coach with saving and reviving his career.
“Marc coaches those guys hard. Him and Ben get after it pretty good,” said Judge. “They understand it’s coming from the right place. I’ve seen those guys improve because they come to work every day with their lunch pail.”
The Giants’ line did not look very sharp in last Saturday’s scrimmage versus the defense, but it’s still work in progress. Judge did not criticize the fact that the defense was in the backfield more often that he would have liked. Then again, it could just be that the Giants’ defensive front is coming together. After all, they do have some good young players in their front seven.
Judge decided to dwell on the positives when speaking to reporters on Sunday.
“You saw a lot of things from them,” Judge said. “You see the young guys and the athleticism. I thought Nick Gates did a good job in the middle, commanding the calls and getting everyone on the same page. I thought he played with a lot of toughness the other night. I thought the tackles did a decent job. There were some other times, obviously, our defense was able to mix up some different looks and create pressure. There is a lot of parity in the night between our offense and defense based on the situation they were in. I thought Hernandez and Zeitler did a good job really playing physical. That showed up with (rookie) Shane Lemieux. I was pleased with how (rookie) Matt Peart and Eric Smith played on the edges. There are a lot of young guys who showed up as well. Tyler Haycraft had a large load the other night, did a decent job in there handling it, especially with the mental and the changes our defense gave with different looks. That’s always a key thing for the center position, to be the smart guy who steers everyone on the same page. I was pleased with the way the offensive line worked.”
“They’re improving every day,” he added.
The line could end up starting three rookies by year’s end: first and third round picks Andrew Thomas and Peart at tackle and Lemieux, a fifth rounder, at center. Right now, it appears only the guard positions are set with Will Hernandez at left guard and Kevin Zeitler on the right side. Either Gates and Spencer Pulley will start the year at center.