Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter -- October 4, 2019
Q: What does it mean that youíve had the same five guys play every snap?
A: Well I think that one of the things, and I know weíve talked about this before, (is) the continuity. Itís not five guys playing, itís five guys playing as one. When you have some continuity and youíre used to the guy youíre playing next to, you can get a lot of things done. Youíre just kind of are all in sync. I think for an offensive line, the continuity from week in to week out is fundamental. As it goes on, they get more and more comfortable with playing with each other, the communication gets better, you actually know what the other guy is going to do before he does it. All of the combination blocks fit better. The communication in pass pro fits better. It means a lot to have continuity. I have been on both sides of it in this career where Iíve had a bunch of different lineups and then had one lineup the entire season. It makes a lot of difference.
Q: With Zeitler, and heíll probably never say it, but weíve seen him get days off of practice and everything. How much is he kind of playing through with that shoulder?
A: Itís like anything. Itís a brutal, violent game upfront. It always helps to practice, but missing a little bit of time, I think the most important thing is to make sure when you hit the field on Sunday youíre ready to play. Throughout the league, there are a lot of guys that miss a day here or miss a day there, just making sure that after you come out of that game that youíre ready to go next Sunday. I donít think it has really hurt us if he has a little bit of time off. Last Wednesday he practiced, this Wednesday he didnít practice, but he did the walkthrough reps and he came back yesterday and practiced full speed and did a nice job. So, I think weíre still in sync with that.
Q: How about the communication between the quarterback and offensive line with Daniel being still relatively inexperienced?
A: I think itís just not with the offensive line, but with the entire offense. In this day and age, youíre always looking to try to get in the right run, the right protection, (and) the right things. The communication is really important. I think even more important, knowing what the quarterback is going to communicate before he communicates it, is even more fundamental. For example, we know when heís going to make a blitz check or heís going to make some type of check in the protection. We are anticipating what heís going to do because weíre all on the same page. Thatís why, when you do meetings like blitz meetings and things like that, the quarterbacks are actually in the room with the running backs, (and) the whole protection unit is together to make sure the communication (is there). The communication is really fundamental. Iím not sure Iíve ever been around a better communicator than Eli (Manning). With all of the years, he just really understands the game. I think Daniel is trying to follow in his footsteps.
Q: How much does Eli help him in that regard?
A: Iím not in the quarterback meeting, so I really donít know that. Just from my outward looking in, Eli has been a champ on that. Heís been a really solid guy. But I donít really know that because Iím not really in those meetings.
Q: How has Jon Halapio done at center? Even though he was your starting center last year, this might be the most heís actually played at center for an extended period of time.
A: Yeah, heís done a really solid job. Of all of the things that we do, he has the toughest job because he gets isolated up on that nose tackle so much one on one. When you play some of these guys Sundays, and the nose tackles weíve played recently like the ones we played this past week from Washington, they are as good as heís going to play against. So, every week itís a challenge. Heís playing really solid. Heís doing a great job communicating to the whole offensive line and heís done a great job at playing for us at a functional level.
Q: Is that just what you guys choose to do schematically youíre saying?
A: I think thatís what everybody does in the league schematically. I think in terms of this, the center has to throw that ball between his legs before he does anything. Heís got a nose tackle thatís an inch off his face because of the no neutral zone there. Itís everybody in the league, they put their center on an island. The center has to do a lot of one on one type of blocks, but thatís just kind of football in the NFL. Heís a strong, athletic guy thatís been able to do that pretty well.
Q: From an offensive line standpoint, how does Danielís mobility affect your guys? Maybe his mobility can make up for some mistakes, but at the same time the plays go a lot longer, so you have to hold your block a lot longer.
A: Well, I think every quarterback is different, every quarterback and how he manages the pocket is different, the depth of his drop is a little bit different. So again, getting used to a new quarterback is what you have to be able to do because there are some differences in that. But again, you work within the system. The people that coach the passing game, in terms of that, do a great job of trying to make sure that heís disciplined in what he does, he gets rid of the ball on time when he needs to, because thatís really important in the rhythm of the passing game. But again, our guys have to be prepared to play for either quarterback at any single time. It doesnít really affect us as much as people think.
Q: I know the leap for Will Hernandez was anticipated year one to year two. A month in, if you had turned on the tape last year and watched him Week 4 versus this year, whatís the biggest difference in his play?
A: I think the biggest difference in his play is heís slowed down a little bit mentally, and thatís a good thing. I think when you play as a young player, sometimes the game speeds up on you. Things are happening so fast. I think he plays fast physically and heís slow and calm mentally. Heís probably, through the first part of his season with any type of mental situation, he has no mental errors this year because he understands the system. He understands the speed of the game and heís adjusted to the speed of the game. I think the second year has really, really helped him a lot. Itís like anything, you make your most improvements from the first time you do anything to the second time, you always make your most improvement. Football is just one of those things.
Q: Itís only a quarter of the season in. What have you seen out of the performance of the offensive line? Itís been a weakness for this team the last few years, but it seems like itís been a strength this year.
A: Last month, one of the questions you guys asked me was what youíre going to see from this offensive line. I said youíd see competitive, tough guys that are going to play hard and be able to technically do things they need to do to be able to run the ball and protect the quarterback. I think itís the same thing. We are far from the finished product, far from the finished product. One thing that you have to do every week is you have to show up ready to play every single week because everybodyís got good defense. Weíve played really good defenses, everybody has good edge rushers, and you have to be on top of your game every single week. Weíre doing some good things. Part of whatís helping us, and itís not by accident, that the offense is designed to kind of help the offensive line, and the quarterbacks are doing a great job with this. The running back makes us look better. We have played better, and I think itís attributed to the guys, their work ethic, their toughness, and their attention to detail. Weíre in early in the morning and they stay late. They put in a lot of hours trying to make sure theyíre on top of things. Again, you have to prove yourself every single week like youíve never arrived. Every single week weíre going to play good defenses. Weíre going to play a good defense against Minnesotaótheir defense is stout. Then weíre going to turn around in five days and play New Englandís defense, and their defense is stout. Everybodyís got good defensive players, so you have to prove yourself every week. Youíre only as good as your last performance, or maybe youíre only as good as your next performance. You take each week at a time, and you try to just continue to build on that. There are a lot of things we can get better at, and they know that. Weíll continue to capitalize on what weíre doing good and try to make those improvements in terms of what needs to be improved.
Q: Have you seen more from Mike Remmers at right tackle than maybe you guys even thought youíd see this early?
A: No, I remember when he was with the Panthers and he was coming up on free agency and I was at Indy. I looked at him on tape like that and I was really impressed with how he was playing. Then, of course, he signed with Minnesota. So, for him to come back and play at this level, itís not a surprise to me because I remember watching him when he played for the Panthers. It was the year they went to the Super Bowl and he played really solid that whole year. Heís playing as I expectedó heís a smart, tough, aggressive, player. Heís got a lot of dependability, you can count on him doing the right thing play after play.
Q: You mentioned mental errors earlier for Hernandez. As a group, do you have the number of mental errors that you guys have had through four games?
A: No, our mental errors are, for me, at an all-time low right now. I give those guys more credit than anything. Those guys, they study so much tape. We always meet early, we meet late, they put a lot of time in, just really grinding things out. I think they all have a really high football intelligence, and their FBI is really high. I think that really helps. Iím pleased. I credit most of that to them for their attention to detail.