Giants bring a new “dirtbag” mentality to the offense

Let’s call them “Frenchy, Dirtbag and the Crew” for now.

Maybe one day, if everything goes according to plan, an organic nickname will emerge.

This is the latest incarnation of the Giants’ offensive line, which was joined at Thursday’s practice by left guard Shane “Frenchy” Lemieux and center Jon “Dirtbag” Feliciano — nicknames created by coach Bobby Johnson — and right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Evan Neal were included as appetizers. Korey Cunningham filled in the left tackle for Andrew Thomas as he carefully rehabilitated his surgically repaired left ankle.

Feliciano is the one who knows Johnson best, having spent the past three seasons together as a player and position coach with the Bills.

“I joke with him every day: when I write the depth map on the board, I write ‘dirtbag,'” Johnson said. “That’s how he plays. Not in an illegal way, but he’s playing the game on the sidelines. You have to have that.

Bobby Johnson will coach the Bills in 2021
Bobby Johnson will coach the Bills in 2021
Getty Images

“Sometimes when you don’t have that in every guy, you have to develop that kind of attitude in the room. Jon plays like this. Glowinski plays like this. I think we have other guys who can play like that. They’ll find with me as a coach that if they don’t play like that, they won’t play.”

The Giants have used 19 different starters and 20 different five-man combinations in their last 65 games as swings and misses piled up to solve a decades-old problem. Team owner John Mara never hides his belief that reversing the misery (19-46 record) starts with repairing the line.

“I don’t feel the pressure,” said Johnson, the Giants’ fifth offensive line coach in the last five seasons. “I just feel responsible for making them live up to expectations – mainly the owner’s expectations. This is one of the blue-blood organizations, so I feel compelled to make them exceed owners’ expectations.”

Evan Neal at the Giants practice on May 19, 2022.
Evan Neal at the Giants practice on May 19, 2022.
Noah K. Murray-NY Post

The key to rebuilding is developing the two tackles designed with the top 7 picks. Johnson, who wants the unit’s identity to be “tough, smart and dependable,” spoke strongly in the selection of rookie Neal.

“He had what makes me say, ‘I want to be with this guy. I want to coach this guy. I want to help this guy reach his potential,'” Johnson said. “It was just that he really wants to be good. The more you talk to him, the more you realize that it’s not lip service. It is real.”

Showing patience with a rookie while expecting excellence is a “tricky balance.”

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“He got drafted into the top 10 and came to New York City. That alone is enough pressure to crush a player,” Johnson said. “My job is to develop them all. I will stunt its development if I try to apply any more pressure than is already there.

“Evan puts a lot of pressure on himself, I’ve learned that. One of my keys to him is, “My job is to coach you. If you need pressure, let me do it. Don’t do it to yourself because you’re too young and you don’t know when to turn it off.’”

Johnson said Thomas’ film was “very good”. After allowing 10 sacks as a rookie, Thomas reduced the total to two in a much-improved sophomore season. Developing consistency in daily preparation is the next step.

“For him, it’s just about getting my performance to a certain level and then maintaining it,” Johnson said. “I think he just has a boatload of room to develop – and that doesn’t mean he’s played at a low level so far. It’s just, I think, the child’s world.”

Glowinski — the Giants’ largest free-agent signing (three years, $18.4 million) — is a well-known commodity. There’s a block of potential guards on the other side, but Lemieux — a 2020 fifth-round pick with a hockey surname and a thin mustache — has the early lead.

“Frenchy is doing a great job,” Johnson said. “I got a very good grade on him when he came from Oregon. I really wanted the opportunity to coach him. Now I have an opportunity. So far is he doing what I’m asking him to do? Yes. Does he do it at a high level? Yes.”

Eight of the 14 offensive linemen on the list were brought in by first-year general manager Joe Schoen. The second-team offensive line on Thursday included Devery Hamilton, Joshua Ezeudu, Ben Bredeson, Marcus McKethan and Matt Gono (left to right). Max Garcia turned around.

While former starting rights tackle Matt Peart (ACL) and center Nick Gates (broken leg) were sidelined with last season’s injuries, Lemieux wasn’t even in the red jersey to signal the injury layoff, despite missing the full season with knee surgery .

Jon Feliciano signed with the Giants this offseason
Jon Feliciano signed with the Giants this offseason
Getty Images

“They didn’t say there were restrictions and [Lemieux] doesn’t show me any limitations,” Johnson said, “so I’m happy right now.” Giants bring a new “dirtbag” mentality to the offense


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