The Giants have found their coach to improve things up front.
New York is hiring University of Louisiana-Lafayette offensive coordinator/offense line coach Rob Sale to fill its offensive line coach vacancy, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday.
New York has been in search of a reliable plan along its offensive line for a few years. Joe Judge's initial decision to bring Marc Colombo over from the Cowboys to the Giants ended up backfiring in the middle of Judge's first season, resulting in a change from Colombo to former Patriots assistant Dave DeGuglielmo just before Thanksgiving. The late-season swap didn't give DeGuglielmo much time to make an impact, and though the Giants didn't allow a sack in their first game following the switch, they gave up 19 combined sacks in their final five games, good for an average of nearly four sacks allowed per game in that span.
That's not good enough, especially when the Giants are trying to develop Daniel Jones into a franchise quarterback. Judge is taking a different route in 2021, turning to the college ranks to find a coach with a brief but impressive history of helping offensive linemen blossom. Sale has been excellent at Louisiana-Lafayette, coordinating an offense that broke numerous school records -- including rushing yards and rushing touchdowns -- and more importantly helped develop two offensive linemen in to 2020 NFL Draft selections in second-rounder Robert Hunt and fourth-rounder Kevin Dotson.
Hunt and Dotson combined for 15 starts in 29 games played in 2020. Hunt finished with a better Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade than 2020 first-rounders Jedrick Wills and Tristan Wirfs (who each made the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team), while Dotson landed ahead of veterans Kevin Zeitler and David DeCastro in overall PFF grades for guards. Simply, Sale has proven he knows how to produce pro-ready linemen.
He'll need to take New York's line to the next level, and he has a few ideal subjects to work with. The Giants spent the No. 4 overall pick in 2020 on tackle Andrew Thomas, who was inconsistent in his first season but has the physical tools necessary to become a reliable blocker under the right direction. Will Hernandez had an impressive rookie season but was forced out due to COVID-19, then had to watch from the bench after he was cleared to return because rookie guard Shane Lemieux had played well enough in his place to keep the job. One more offseason might bring the Giants another young offensive lineman or two, giving Sale an ideal group to mold into an effective unit.
After the world watched a Super Bowl that demonstrated the importance of offensive and defensive line ability, Sale will soon be tasked with attempting to turn New York's group into a monster.