For the second straight Tuesday, the New York Giants held what I have quickly come to call ‘Zoom-Mania.’ That is nine Zoom sessions with position coaches on three separate links over a 45-minute span. It’s crazy. And offensive line coach Marc Colombo is the unquestioned star of the show.
Colombo coaches a group that has struggled mightily, last in the league in Football Outsiders Adjusted Line Yards run-blocking stat, and 19th in FOs pass-blocking metrics. With a second-year quarterback, a star running back sidelined for the season, a highly-drafted rookie left tackle fighting to figure it out and a team off to an 0-3 start there is a always high volume of interest in hearing from Colombo.
He doesn’t disappoint, bringing his passion and a blunt honesty to the videoconferences.
Here’s Colombo assessing the play of his group.
“Obviously it’s not up to standard. It’s across the board, it’s the entire team right now. We’re going to keep pushing, we’re going to keep working. we just need to get a million reps at this stuff. It’s gonna get better. We’ve just gotta keep pushing and have this stuff show up on Sunday.”
The Giants are last in the league in yards per rushing attempt (3.2), and Colombo didn’t shy away from the offensive line’s failures in that regard.
“We’ve gotta do better in the run, period. That’s where we’re falling short right now. It’s going to alleviate a lot of stuff in the passing game. That’s something we have to do,” Colombo said.
Center Nick Gates admitted earlier in the week the offensive linemen are “pissed off” at the way things have gone thus far.
“I love that they’re pissed off. That’s the type of group that we want.”
All of that recognition and emotion are fine. They’re admirable. What the Giants need, though, is better blocking.
“We’re a million reps behind so we’ve gotta keep getting it, keep getting the technique down, keep grinding,” Colombo said. “We’re seeing a lot of stuff for the first time, but we’re at a point now we’re going into Game 4 this stuff should be ironed out. It’s our job this week to iron it out and move forward and get some more consistent play out of this group and it starts with me.”
Colombo did admit that the line’s youth and the lack of on-field offseason work have made developing this line more difficult. Still, he wants better play. Quickly.
“We’re young and we need as many reps as possible. We’re thousands and thousands of reps behind, and this is practice reps, not game reps. Every week it’s gonna get better, we’ve just gotta keep grinding,” he said.
“We need to see better jumps. We can’t baby crawl through this thing, we need to start seeing some big jumps. We’re to a point now where we should start seeing that.”
Colombo was asked about the stunts and twists that have given the Giants fits. He answered honestly.
“It’s been something so far that we’ve gotta do a better job of. We really made an emphasis on it last week in practice and again it didn’t show up in the game. Really inconsistent. When it’s done right, it’s great,” Colombo said. “It’s a matter of tight hands, it’s a matter of seeing it, reading keys, stuff like that. It’s a young line. They’ve just gotta do a better job of seeing it and recognizing it really quick. It’s something that’s hurt us and we’ve gotta do a better job, I’ve gotta do a better job of coaching it up. I’m going to keep pushing these guys. They can handle it, they’ve just gotta see it and they’ve gotta react a lot faster. ...
“It’s a matter of putting it all together and realizing we get into these games where we’re passing it quite a bit that’s what’s going to happen ... We’ve just gotta be better up front.”
Colombo is accepting the weight of that responsibility on his broad shoulders.
“That’s on me to come out with the same juice and energy level every day and keep pushing these guys to be great.”
What, though, if they don’t get better soon? Could the Giants insert players like rookie Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux or veteran Spencer Pulley in an effort to help?
“These guys are young. We didn’t have an offseason. To them it’s really like the third preseason game. They’ve just gotta keep developing. We’re going to keep giving them shots in practice,” Colombo said.
“It’s a balance between continuity and playing the best five. We’re going to keep pushing in practice, create competition and see where it shakes out.”
Fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas has been thrust into the difficult role of being the team’s left tackle, and it is obvious watching the games that he is often left on an island while the Giants help elsewhere. Thomas, as should be expected against top-tier pass rushers, has had his hands full.
“He’s handled himself well for the most part,” Colombo said. “Across the board it’s really just inconsistent play. We gotta coach it better. We’ve gotta take it from the field to the games. As a rookie, you deal with those ups and downs. Andrew’s a smart kid. I truly believe he’s going to get it right.”