EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Dave Gettleman finally ended the charade and stated the obvious: The Giants offensive line is a mess.
"We've got to fix the o-line, let's be honest," the new Giants GM said on Friday. "Let's not kid each other. I told you at the top, big men allow you to compete and that's what we've got to fix."
As obvious as that sounds, it marks a watershed moment for a franchise that has seemingly been in denial about its offensive line problem for years. At every turn, both former GM Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo resisted criticizing the line they created. Reese even often defended the poorly performing players he drafted.
And they all stubbornly refused to shake up the underperforming group, keeping the struggling Ereck Flowers at left tackle, not signing any free agent linemen last offseason, and not drafting any offensive lineman last April until they took Pitt's Adam Bisnowaty in the sixth round. And Bisnowaty, despite a ton of injuries along the line and the signings of several off-the-street replacement players, has been stuck on the practice squad all year.
The Giants can expect that to change and quickly with the 66-year-old Gettleman in charge. He has long believed in a philosophy of building from the trenches out - focusing first on the offensive and defensive lines.
And he has long talked about his love of "hog mollies" - the big men that he believes makes a football team go.
"You've got to run the ball. You got to stop the run. You got to pressure the passer. Everywhere I've been and with the great teams that I've been associated with - those were three very big staples," he said. "Another philosophy about team building, Tom Coughlin said it to me his first when he came in here, he said 'Big men allow you to compete.'
"And that's really just so true. The o-line and the d-line, I believe in the hog mollies. We've had some great groups here, had great groups everywhere I've been, and we're going to get back to that. They do allow you to compete."
The rebuilding figures to be immediate, too, given the state of uncertainty among the current line. Left guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg are both scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in March and they're both coming off season-ending injuries. Same for guard D.J. Fluker. And the Giants could also clear about $2.5 million in salary cap space by cutting guard John Jerry.
So it's possible the line rebuilding could be extensive and fast - and help could come from anywhere and everywhere.
"Well, again, you can't put a timeframe on anything, you really can't," Gettleman said. "I'm not going to sit up here and tell you I'm going to fix it in two years because John is going to run me out of the building, OK? No, the bottom line is, you go to work. It's that simple. You have no idea what's going to happen. You have no idea who's going to be available. People get cut all the time, you say, 'Whoa!' you know?
"The bottom line is there are people available on the street that - the bad habit that people have is (saying) 'Well what's wrong with him?' Wait a minute, don't look at the negative. What's right with him? Can he help us? Now let's see if we can dig around, find out why he got dumped. But no, you can't put a timetable on it. We're going to work our fannies off and we're going to get it fixed."