In the short time that Joe Judge has been the New York Giants' head coach, he's never been one to say anything negative about the players or coaches on his team.
That's especially true for the franchise's offensive line. If Pro Football Focus, which named the unit as the worst in the league ahead of the 2021 season, and ESPN, who ranked offensive line as the worst pass-blocking unit in the league, are to be believed, projected starters Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez, and Matt Peart aren't going to be very good this coming season.
Judge, however, continues to insist that the unit is going to be much improved. And while it makes sense to defer to Judge's opinion since he's been on the field with the players and has a better idea than anyone outside of the organization how far they have progressed, what he hasn't seen is the unit in pads participating in live contact drills.
Given all that Judge has to go on are the fundamental-based drills allowed during the OTAs and mandatory minicamp completed last month, what is behind his unwavering confidence in the unit being poised to take that quantum leap in Year 2?
"I've confidence in the way we work and ultimately, that's what's going to help us improve," Judge told Giants Country during a phone call last Friday.
"In terms of how our players work, I'm confident in their commitment to the process and what they're going to do to improve."
Although the Giants didn't add many new faces to the unit in terms of players--they added reserve center Jonotthan Harrison and reserve guard Zach Fulton and are welcoming back veteran Nate Solder, who opted out last year--Judge did revamp the coaching resources devoted to the offensive line.
In addition to hiring Rob Sale to serve as the team's new head offensive line coach--Sale will work with holdover Ben Wilkerson in that role--Judge also hired Pat Flaherty, who was the offensive line coach on Tom Coughlin's staff, as a consultant.
"As we went through the process of talking to offensive line coaches, it was the first extended exposure I have to Flats, who just came by and decided to talk ball one day," Judge revealed.
"Basically a two-hour window turned into about an eight-hour conversation and, I remember just saying to (assistant head coach and defensive coordinator) Pat Graham, 'Wow, this guy could really help us.'"
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Flaherty, who has spent most of his NFL coaching career working with offensive linemen, helped guide David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara, Chris Snee, and Kareem McKenzie in becoming a strength of a Giants team during the 2007-2010 seasons. And under his guidance, Diehl, O'Hara, and Snee all became Pro Bowl players.
"He's just brings a wealth of knowledge and experience," Judge said. "And, and he's a great teacher--Rob and Ben Wilkerson and Pat, they do a tremendous job working out with the offensive line and really breaking up the group. Everyone is getting coached all the time, which is really the way I want it."
The added coaching resources, which have laid the groundwork for what the players have to do to inch closer toward being a finished product, are helping to drive Judge's confidence that the offensive line will be better in 2021.
And while Judge has been encouraged by the trajectory path the offensive line has been on since last season ended, he was also candid in admitting that there is still a lot of work to be done with the unit.
"The truth is everybody on our team, every position, every unit-- we've got a long way to go, and we're nowhere near where we need to be to start the season, nowhere near where we need to be to end the season," he said.
"We're far from a finished product, and I don't think you ever arrived. So there's a lot of work to be done. There's nothing that you can have on a piece of paper that's going to equal any kind of success or results on a Sunday.
"So we've got to go out there and work. Training camp is starting with the entire team, and that's really the opportunity to go out there and build the chemistry and the consistency is there to go ahead and improve as a unit."
"The Good, Great & Ugly" Series
WR Kelvin Benjamin | RB Devontae Booker | RB Corey Clement | OLB Lorenzo Carter | CB Isaac Yiadom | TE Kaden Smith | WR Kenny Golladay | TE Levine Toilolo | Edge Ifeadi Odenigbo | DT Danny Shelton | OL Zach Fulton | CB Adoree' Jackson | TE Evan Engram | S Jabrill Peppers | S Xavier McKinney | ILB Reggie Ragland | WR John Ross | TE Kyle Rudolph | OLB Oshane Ximines | LB Carter Coughlin | IDL Dexter Lawrence II | WR Darius Slayton | LB Cam Brown | DL Leonard Williams | OL Will Hernandez | IDL Austin Johnson | IDL B.J. Hill | WR Sterling Shepard | ILB Blake Martinez | DB Logan Ryan | C Nick Gates | OT Matt Peart | CB Darnay Holmes | ILB Tae Crowder | CB James Bradberry
Find all our training camp player previews in one spot. New profiles are added daily until we get to the end of the roster.