Justin Pugh, the designated defender of all things related to the Giants’ offensive line, said the criticism of his group is justified.
“If the fans want to go out and boo, I can’t fault them,” he said on Wednesday. “We haven’t put anything really good out there on tape so far to prove them otherwise.”
But he also had a message for those who are at their wits’ end watching the five-man group stumble through the first two games of the season.
“Stick with us,” he said. “Don’t turn your backs on us just yet. Give us a chance here.”
He may have been speaking to the fans as well as the front office, because those words came juxtaposed to him talking about how he and his fellow linemen understand that their jobs are at stake.
“We know the severity of it and we know what’s going to happen if we don’t produce,” he said.
Pugh, who has voiced his support of the line and the players on it through all of the travails of this season (and last), said he believes that production is close.
“Despite how negative it’s been around here, I’m feeling optimistic,” he said. “I love the guys we have in this room. . . . We’re gonna keep fighting. We’re gonna give it our all. I feel good about where we’re heading.”
It’s an odd dynamic that Pugh, one of the Giants’ better offensive linemen, so often finds himself having to stick up for the other less polished members of the group. After Monday’s game he defended Ereck Flowers with a passionate speech about fans kicking him when he is down and him trying to help build back Flowers’ confidence.
“They keep beating you down, beating you down,” he said. “He’s a human being, we’re all human beings, and I’m looking forward to picking my brother up.”
It’s what makes Pugh a leader of the position group and on the team. But is it enough to lead the offensive line to a modicum of success before the season slips through their grasp?
“I know the group of guys we have and I know the direction we’re heading and the comradery we’re building,” he added. “We’re going to keep getting better and I think I speak for the offensive line when I say that we’re going to go out there and we’re going to keep fighting.”