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Mike Solari: “Bobby Hart is the fifth-best offensive lineman”

Has the second-year offensive lineman seized the starting job?

NFL: International Series: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It seems as though the New York Giants have settled on a lineup for the offensive line. Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and John Jerry have started every game for the Giants, and most of the games since the start of the 2015 season.

Friday offensive line coach Mike Solari all but confirmed that 2015 seventh-round pick Bobby Hart will be the team’s starting right tackle. Hart took over for veteran Marshall Newhouse when the latter suffered a strained calf early in the season, and the coaches have seen enough progression from him over the weeks since to keep him in the starting lineup.

“Bobby has gotten better.” Solari said, “It’s going to help us that all of a sudden there is more depth on the offensive line now that Bobby has played and has some games under his belt. He’s getting some confidence. John is doing a nice job adjacent to him. They’re coming along. Marshall is working hard. He’s getting real close. Ben will make that decision.”

Later on he added, “Right now, Bobby is the fifth-best offensive lineman. He’s ascending and he’s getting better. He’s doing some nice things. The hard thing for someone like a Bobby Hart, a young offensive lineman is consistency. That’ll come. He’s working at it and doing a nice job in the classroom.” He also confirmed that Hart is the fifth lineman counting Marshall Newhouse.

There was an expectation among fans that re-signed veteran Will Beatty would take over at right (or left) tackle, but it seems as though he still needs work before he can push for a starting job. Solari said of Beatty, “It’s been a while since he’s played and put the pads on. It’s really hard to come in without training camp. You really put stress on your techniques and fundamentals. He continues to ascend as he develops. He’s getting better as an offensive lineman. He’s right in the mix as he continues to grow.”

Flowers, the Giants’ other starting offensive tackle, has been the subject of criticism from fans and the media. Solari, however, has seen progress from him as well.

“I think Ereck is progressing.” Solari said, “I think he’s doing a nice job in the classroom learning and developing. When you say as a coach in the classroom, those are things that you don’t see or the normal football fan doesn’t see. As a coach, that’s so important because you’re building your young foundation. As a young football player in the NFL, every week is a new challenge. You’re building that foundation. Again, you’re seeing his technique and his knowledge improve. Again, it never comes quick enough but he’s getting better. You’re seeing that in his development as a football player and an offensive lineman.”

In 2015 Flowers was a liability in pass protection — granted, he played through a pair of high ankle sprains — but this year he has been effective, if not technically proficient. Solari definitely still sees room for improvement in that regard from Flowers, saying, “Yes. When I say that to you, it’s knowledge of the game and a sense of a feel. Yes, the technique and the fundamentals is something that every man is striving for. That’s the key in the NFL. It’s to be and have outstanding technique in fundamentals where you’re successful in your execution.”