If there is one unit on a football team that has to rely on chemistry and choreography to be successful, it’s the offensive linemen. Five players working as one, as they say.
But the Giants have another crew that requires the same precise interaction this year: their offensive line coaches. While Rob Sale holds the official title of position coach, there actually are four members of the staff whose main focus in that group of players: him, assistant Ben Wilkerson, senior offensive assistant Freddie Kitchens and consultant Pat Flaherty.
Four coaches working as one, as they say.
Throw in head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, both of whom often find themselves inspecting that all-important troupe of players during training camp practices, and there are times when the coaches outnumber the players.
"I’ve never had so many coaches in the room before," said veteran lineman Kenny Wiggins, who has played for four NFL teams in five cities over eight years. "The most I’ve had is two."
The enormous allocation of coaching resources provided to the linemen underscores how important their development is to this year’s success. Judge essentially restructured the entire staff this offseason so that the players would have as much guidance as possible.
The key to it working, of course, is that the messages be consistent even if the messengers are not.
"We all speak the same language and make sure we are saying the same thing," Sale said. "We’re all on the same page."
Judge said, "It’s important for me that the coaching staff, we spend a lot of time meeting and that we end up on the same page and when we walk out of the meetings. We understand what’s going on."
The players have enjoyed the attention, even if it comes in an unusual dosage.
"It’s excellent to have the resources," tackle Nate Solder said. "The biggest thing with any O-line, it’s important that you know what you’re doing, but it’s also important that we’re working together. I think that’s been through the coaching staff all the way through to the players, so that’s been a great group."
With nearly individual attention paid to each player, nothing slips by.
"They just have different eyes on everything, four sets of eyes watching one thing," Wiggins said. "It’s great."
That, ultimately, may be the point of Judge’s staff deployment.
"If I see something specific I may go ahead and say, ‘Why don’t you stay with so-and-so today and make sure he gets this,’" Judge said.
And when he does, he knows that he’ll have plenty of other coaches to handle the rest of the group.