EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The latest effort to fix the New York Giants' offensive line features a young unit being guided by several voices from one of the NFL's largest coaching staffs. Strength in numbers appears to be the thought process here.
The offensive line has been a point of emphasis for the Giants since 2013, and they have four men working with the group in training camp. And if last season (when New York changed offensive line coaches midway through the season) taught anyone anything, it's that coach Joe Judge isn't shy about getting involved in teaching, no matter the position.
That is a lot of input compared to the traditional setup of an offensive line coach and one assistant. So far it seems well received by the players. All four Giants offensive linemen interviewed for this story say the coaches' messages have been unified.
"A lot of coaches," said projected starting right guard Will Hernandez. "They all coach us a lot. Different things. They all help each other out."
It's from the outside that this unorthodox setup is being viewed with skepticism. Former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson sees this group continuing to struggle.
"You've got four voices talking to a unit. Everybody got a different technique. Everybody has something they believe in, what leg you should use, how you should pull, when you wrap around," said Johnson, an ESPN analyst. "You watch when I tell you. Talk to me in Week 7 and let me know."
Rob Sale oversees the position group that will play a part in determining whether this team can have the success it envisions after acquiring several shiny offensive toys this offseason. The projected starters, from left tackle to right, are Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Hernandez and Matt Peart, with Nate Solder as an experienced swing tackle. Thomas, Peart and Lemieux are in their second seasons.
Sale is in his first year as an NFL offensive line coach after spending the previous three seasons at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Ben Wilkerson is his assistant.
Pat Flaherty is a consultant who has been coaching on a regular basis during training camp. He was the Giants' offensive line coach from 2004 to 2015, a stretch when the team won two Super Bowls.
Then there is Freddie Kitchens, the former Cleveland Browns coach who is in his second year as a Giants assistant. He was the tight ends coach last season. Now he is a senior offensive assistant involved with the line, almost as a run-game coach and assistant offensive coordinator under Jason Garrett.
"It's gone very well actually," Judge said recently. "I think all four guys do a great job."
Said Gates: "I view them all as equals. They're all on the same page. They all talk before they come to meetings. If one doesn't know the answer, they ask the next guy before they give us the answer."
This is on brand for Judge's Giants, who have 25 coaches listed on the team's website. That doesn't include Flaherty, who is a resource Sale welcomes.
"Having all that years experience and knowledge, I'd be crazy not to use that man," Sale said. "He's been a Giant for a long time and we believe in the same stuff."
It is still Sale's group. He has the trust of Judge, who worked with him at the University of Alabama when they were assistants under coach Nick Saban.
Sale handles the installation periods and is the primary teacher. During practice, Wilkerson works with the tackles and Flaherty handles the guards and centers. Sale floats and supervises it all.
"We do have two young line coaches who are very knowledgeable and very capable of running a room and making adjustments," Judge said of Sale and Wilkerson. "But it never hurts to have a guy [like Flaherty] who ... can share his experiences with two young guys and help them along."
Sale will split up the planning for short yardage, goal line and third down among the assistants.
"We all have eyes on [the] game plan," Sale said. "We're all talking, saying the same things, so when you're presenting it to the players it is not like you're hearing it for the first time."
The Giants seem pleased with the setup, but as the season ramps up, so will the scrutiny.
If one of the young tackles (Thomas or Peart) have a question about technique, which of the four coaches do they approach? Does each coach teach it a little bit different?
That's the fine line this staff will have to walk.
"To us it's the more the merrier," Hernandez said. "The more help, the more eyes on us, the more coaching points. It's as simple as that."