Head coaches making changes to their staffs isn’t anything new or unsettling in the NFL. Still, when the change is made in-season, it can sometimes have an adverse effect on the players left behind who might hold themselves responsible for the previous coach’s termination.
The Giants, who went through an in-season coaching change at the assistant rank when Joe Judge fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo and replaced him with Dave DeGuglielmo, have predictably taken a united front in welcoming DeGuglielmo to the family and are optimistic about the future now that the dust has settled.
“Yeah, we had a really good week,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said, while also declining to address specific questions about Colombo, who not only was a former player of his, but his offensive line coach when the two were in Dallas.
“Dave has coached in this league for a long time. (Assistant offensive line coach) Ben Wilkerson has been around this league for a long time. Those guys (offensive linemen) are in good hands, and they hit the ground running this week.”
Center Nick Gates, the offensive lineman reportedly at the center of a dispute between Judge and Colombo over a technique that Judge wanted that flew in the face of what Colombo taught, said the transition to DeGuglielmo’ s methods hasn’t been too bad, and he downplayed the notion that the offensive line was going to have to undergo a radical change in what it does.
“I don’t think the outside observer will really notice,” Gates said. “We still have the same system, same plays, (and) we have the same agenda we’re going to follow. Jason (Garrett) is still going to be calling the same plays, and we’re still going to be running them.
“Just got to take it and go with it. Can’t do much about it, so we just got to keep moving on and put one foot in front of the other.”
Gates admitted that the offensive line got off to a sluggish start earlier in the season, creating enough concern for Judge to intervene, something Gates said is within Judge’s right to do as the head coach.
“The first four or five weeks, I mean, you guys saw, the whole offensive line was not playing well,” he said. “We couldn’t run the ball. Judge said a couple things here or there that he thought would help, and we had to try to do our best and work with it. He’s the Head Coach, so he has say in everything that goes on in the building.”
The last few weeks, however, the line has played a lot better, an occurrence some will point to Judge’s intervention, though it’s unclear exactly when the head coach decided to get more involved with the unit.
“I think the growth and development of the offensive line over the course of the year has been significant,” said Garrett. “They’ve gotten better and better and better. They’re young players, and they’re growing in the offense.
“They’re growing just by playing at this level, individually and then playing together. They go about it the right way and they’re learning from their experiences.”
“I think we all came together and figured each other out,” Gates added. “It was all brand new to us, and we didn’t have OTAs or things like that, so it takes a couple games for everyone to mesh with each other and figure each other out.”
Garrett wasn't ready to declare the offensive line a finished product, but he said he likes the direction the unit has taken and was confident that it would continue to grow as a unit because of the character and work ethic of the individuals on the offensive line.
“We’re not even close to where we need to be,” Garrett said. “We all recognize that. But guys are working hard the right way. I think that approach is helping us improve each week.”
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