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Giants are rotating their offensive linemen — and it's been working

Matt Peart of the Giants blocks for Daniel

Matt Peart of the Giants blocks for Daniel Jones during a scrimmage at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 3. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Giants aren’t really sure why their rotation of offensive linemen is working so well for them in recent weeks. Maybe it’s that it gives the players a rest and keeps them fresh, or maybe it catches defensive linemen on their heels. At a position group where stability and continuity so often are the goal, the Giants somehow have flaunted that convention and seem to be better for it.

Offensive line coach Marc Colombo said on Tuesday that the key is rookie Matt Peart, who toggles between left and right tackle, spelling starters Andrew Thomas and Cam Fleming throughout the game. Colombo said they noticed early in training camp that Peart is "pretty balanced" between the two sides.

"He’s big, he’s strong, and one of the best things about him is that he’s smart," Colombo said. "Not only smart, but this type of stuff doesn’t bother him. He is unfazed by it. He just goes in and executes and does his job and we love that about Matt."

The Giants like the idea so much that they intend to continue using it not just at tackle, as they have for the past few weeks, but at guard when Will Hernandez returns from his stint on reserve/COVID-19. Colombo said he hasn’t quite figured out how he will rotate Hernandez with rookie Shane Lemieux, who has started two games in his place, and possibly even right guard Kevin Zeitler. Some of that will depend on how ready Hernandez is for the rigors of game action after his two-week layoff.

The offensive line has been one of the most improved units on the team this season, partially because they were so abysmal early on. The Giants have rushed for more than 100 yards in each of their last four games, and on Sunday they posted season-highs in carries (35), yards (166) and average (4.7).

"This group has made huge leaps," Colombo said. "It’s a confident group right now. They can see themselves doing it right on film. We talked about consistency, that was kind of the biggest thing this whole entire season, we needed to be more consistent. You’re starting to see it now from every player on the line, all five of them and then you add Matt to the equation."

Colombo speculated that the rotation works because the Giants have been doing it since the earliest days of training camp, even though it has been used in games only within the last month or so.

"These guys are very comfortable playing with each other," he said. "We do quite a bit of individual, quite a bit of team-oriented periods, where they can get in there and create continuity. So when you put in another tackle next to Kevin Zeitler, they have done a million double teams. Him and Matt have done a million of them. This rotation has been going on since we started here, so it’s not foreign to them. It’s not a new guy just coming in and not knowing each other, not knowing how to communicate with each other."

Still, it is strange that such an admittedly abnormal scheme is so effective.

"We’ve kind of talked internally and bounced a few things off [each other]," Joe Judge said of trying to figure it out. "The one thing we’ve concluded is, whatever the reasons may be, we like how it’s working for us and we’re going to keep on going with it."

New York Sports