The players are the same, but Justin Pugh says the attitude and scheme is different and that’s what will make this year’s Giants offensive line better than last year’s.
“I’ve been watching the film and seeing where guys are at and I’m excited to go out there and play some real games,” the starting left guard said. “We have some things that we’re going to do this year that will help us out tremendously and it’s going to be good for us.”
With the same group of starters that finished last season — Ereck Flowers at left tackle followed down the line by Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse — Pugh said not only do they know each other better but so do the coaches.
“You have to play to your strengths,” he said. “You can’t keep beating your head against the wall and try to do things you don’t do well. Obviously we’re finding out what we do well, what we execute at a high level with, and I think those are the things we’re going to roll with.”
The Giants made a concerted effort to figure out what those strengths are.
“We spent a lot of time in the offseason identifying what schemes fit our personnel, what things we were doing that we could do differently,” offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. “One of the things we were doing was wasting our time.”
The remedy there was to increase the tempo, something that Pugh said will help because it allows the line to rely on a base of techniques and blocks that can then be translated to any play that is called.
“I think you have to take what the defense gives us,” Pugh added. “You can’t try to force-feed something that isn’t there. I think Eli [Manning] is doing an unbelievable job of getting us into the right plays and making sure we’re not running into a number four safety that is coming off the edge.”
As for the camaraderie of the group, Pugh said it is as high as it’s ever been.
“You know how it works, you first learn to play next to a guy and you have to learn to trust him,” Pugh said. “Then you build that chemistry. Then it becomes next-level and you are really, truly at that point where I know that guy’s got my back no matter what happens. That’s something that we keep working on every day to get better and better at as an offensive line . . . we’re really making sure we’re protecting each other and looking out for each other. You have to be your brother’s keeper out there. That’s the way the good teams are.”