Will Hernandez: How experience in O-line room is making the unit a team strength
The Giants revamped starting offensive line—left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Will Hernandez, center Jon Halapio, right guard Kevin Zeitler, and right tackle Mike Remmers—only played 11 snaps together in the team’s preseason opener last week against the Jets.
But according to Pro Football Focus, the group is off to a very positive start in having allowed zero total pressures of any kind (hit, hurry and sack) against quarterbacks Eli Manning and Daniel Jones.
It’s a small sample size, but its also one that shows just how far this unit has come since a year ago.
“I’m very confident in what this offensive line can do,” Hernandez said. “Some things kind of take time to develop and some of the chemistry to develop and that just comes with games and snaps. I know we can do a lot and really help out our team.”
The second-year guard’s sentiments don’t’ sound much different than the optimism that was expressed last year, but then again, the offensive line, despite being revamped for the second year in a row, is at a different point in his development.
Last year, there were five new faces playing the various positions on the line—Hernandez and Solder on the left side, and Halapio at center; and two players, Ereck Flowers at right tackle and Patrick Omameh at right guard, who flipped from the left side and were theoretically learning new positions.
This year, Hernandez and Solder are working together much more effectively, this thanks to the former’s maturation as an NFL guard which has necessitated him leaning less on his veteran teammate.
On the right side, Zeitler and Remmers are experienced players at their respective positions, plus being veterans, the communication process has jelled a lot quicker than it did between two players that have never played on that side before.
This experience is a big reason why Hernandez believes this year’s story about the offensive line will be a lot different.
“Wherever they were, everybody got more experience, more time to see film, more time to do a lot of things and just get better as an individual,” he said.
“When we all come together as five, you can really see the difference. One example was me and Nate, we started off a little slow and then we picked it up the rest of the season, and then we picked up right where we left off once we came back for OTAs.
“We also have Remmers and Zeitler on the other side, and the center position is just crazy. Both of these guys just come out every day and work. At the end of the day, we have five guys that got better from last year and we are just building off of it.”
And just because the starting five offensive linemen have experience, it doesn’t mean that they’re not learning from one another.
For example, Hernandez praised Zeitler for his almost obsessive attention to detail in his game.
“Zeitler just brings that attitude of, ‘I don’t care how many reps I have to take, but I’m going to get this specific detail right.’ He’s just very detail-oriented, and I think that’s what makes him a great offensive lineman,” Hernandez said.
“He pays attention to every single little thing. Sometimes he’s just working on this one little thing that we talked about in meetings and some of the other guys will be like, ‘Oh, that’s right, we have to do that,’ or ‘Oh, that’s right.’ It’s contagious. We learn a lot from him, too.”
Between the experience and the lessons each man has brought to the offensive line room, Hernandez is brimming with optimism that the sky is the limit for the Giants 2019 offensive line.
“I feel like this offensive line can be really, really good,” Hernandez said. “These guys come out every day and want to work, want to get after it. They hate to lose and want to win and it’s contagious.”