Offensive Tackle Andrew Thomas
Q: Wondering if you could tell us what your approach was with (Tackle) Evan Neal the last couple days. As we talked about in the preseason, you've been there, you struggled as a rookie. So, did you seek him out? Did he seek you out? Have you guys not even talked about elephant in the room? Did you say, 'Hey I've been there,"? What have your conversations with Neal been like since Monday night?
A: Yeah, I've definitely talked to Evan. It's a short week, so we kind of had to put it to bed quickly. We're already moved on to game planning for the Bears and stuff like that. But not just Evan, I think that the whole offensive line – we understand that we didn't play to the caliber that we want to. Obviously too much pressure, and there are some plays in the run game that we definitely could've had some more explosive runs if we got better movement. Just encouraging him to keep working and to have a short-term memory, but just a reminder that the stuff that you put on film, the rushers next week, they're watching that. Just a reminder to clean that up and keep working the technique. He's a talented kid, has all the tools in the world. He's mature, so I'm confident in him.
Q: How hard is that to do? Is it easier said than done? Because I feel like I was asking rushers about you that question in 2020 (and they were saying) like, 'Oh, he's just got to move on.' But do you internalize it when you struggle like that? You've obviously been in the shoes.
A: It's definitely not easy, especially coming from college where you dominate – you're really good. It's frustrating but I think he has a good attitude about it. He's always asking me about different pointers and asking questions in the meeting room, just trying to get better every day. I think he has the right mindset.
Q: What do you think it is about this line that your struggles – if you've had them – have been more toward the pass protection side than the run blocking?
A: I think we do a good job of getting a hat for a hat in the run game. Our communication, I think our technique is a little bit better in the run game, and I think that's why you see it. Then obviously, (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) is very explosive, so we give him a seam, he makes something happen. In the pass game right now, there's not really a lot of different pressures that we're seeing. It's just more so gains up front, and that's what we're having the most difficulties with is just passing off gains, protecting the depth and the width of the pocket. That's something we've got to do better to allow DJ (Quarterback Daniel Jones) to throw the ball.
Q: The natural question off that is, when you see games and stuff, how much is that is just line hasn't been together? It's just, 'Okay, this is going to take time for this group to get better at that'?
A: As an offensive line, you definitely want comradery. But we don't really have time for that, the season is already here. Can't really make excuses about not playing together. We've just got to do whatever we can to get better as fast as we can because like I said earlier, if we put it on tape, it's coming the next week.
Q: Along the lines of what (a previous question) was asking you about your game from rookie year to now, was it almost a dual journey that you had to figure out what you were doing technique-wise at this level but also the psychological part of it and how that can weigh on a player when you're really left out on an island the way you were as a rookie? How have you developed? What advice did you use to develop that part of your game where you could just shake it off psychologically?
A: The first thing is the approach. Coach Daboll always talks about being process-oriented and not worrying about the results. Sometimes you're trying to do something a certain way or do something a coach teaches and it doesn't work, you're quick to do whatever. You just have to stay focused on the process and getting better. I would say the second thing mentally just blocking out the noise. It's easy to say in this day and age, we all have social media and stuff like that. Just doing your best to focus on what you can control. You can't control what people say about you. All you can control is what you put on film, and that has to be your main focus.
Q: Now you are a captain. You wanted to take on more of a leadership role. It seems like you're playing at a really high level even if the offensive line as a whole is having the difficulties that we've already addressed. How has your perspective gone from, changing from looking at one position to now sort of looking at all five?
A: We all have to play as a unit. That's the beauty of an offensive line. Four guys could be doing their job perfectly, and one guy doesn't and it's a bad play. My focus is not just on myself but like you said the whole O-line group to perform better. That starts with me. It's not just in a leadership role as far as talking to guys, but how I play there are things on film – some things I wish I had back. Some things I wish I could do a little bit better to help out my teammates and just work on that every day to get better.
Q: Is that new for you? In years past when you went back and watched film, did you just focus on yourself? Or were you watching the whole line?
A: I would say especially my rookie year, I was more so focused on myself. Just trying to fix my issues. As an offensive line, we all have to play well together. That's what I'm working on now.
Q: Just individually, you've talked in the past about running your own race and developing at your own pace. Is it gratifying for you now just individually to be where you are – to be talked about now as one of the better offensive linemen in the league and be talked about as a leader instead of the kind of questions you were being asked a couple of years ago?
A: Honestly, not really. It's kind of the same mentality. I remember JG (Former Giants Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett) told me this when I was a rookie. He was like, 'When people say it's bad, it's probably not as bad as it is. And if they say it's good, it's probably not as good as it is.' My approach is really the same. Obviously, I want to play well and I want to be a dominant left tackle. But my focus is on getting better. Like I said, some plays on film that I wish I had back – some things that I could do better with my technique just to be more consistent and just never being satisfied with the results.
The rookie Neal will take his lumps this year and get on that same track...