Giants center Brett Jones discusses his play in 2017 and his hopes to be part of the future of the Offensive Line:
When Dave Gettleman took over as general manager, he made no bones about wanting to fix the offensive line. Brett Jones hopes to be part of his solution.
The former Canadian Football League all-star started 13 games for the Giants in 2017, one at left guard and the final 12 at center. Only guard John Jerry (16) and left tackle Ereck Flowers (15) started more games on the Giants' offensive line last season, while Justin Pugh (eight) and Weston Richburg (four) dealt with injuries.
"I just want to keep being the starter," Jones said. "That's all I want to do. I want to be able to keep playing. It's just so much fun, and I'm looking forward to that."
Jones is originally a second-round draft choice (16th pick overall) by the Calgary Stampeders in the 2013 CFL Draft. He signed with the Giants as a free agent in 2015 but suffered a knee injury in the preseason, putting his NFL debut on hold for a year. The Saskatchewan native suited up 14 times in 2016 and was pressed into service for one start at left guard.
Injuries again called him into action this past season, but this time Jones turned it into a full-time gig.
"Just to get the experience to play and get out there and get in those games was invaluable for me," said Jones, who was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2014 for his work at center. "And I really look forward to keep getting better as a player and hopefully keep staying in there."
March and April will be critical months for the Giants -- as well as Jones' future. Pugh, the versatile former first-round draft pick, and Richburg, a second-rounder who has spent most of his time at center, are set to become free agents on March 14. Six weeks later, the 2018 NFL Draft kicks off with the Giants holding the second overall pick.
The offseason will unfold as Pat Shurmur, the former offensive coordinator for the NFC North champion Vikings, puts his stamp on the team as the 18th head coach in franchise history.
Shurmur and Gettleman share a similar philosophy in how to build a winning program. It didn't take long during the interview process for Shurmur to realize his relationship with Gettleman would be a good fit.
"As soon as he said, 'Everything starts with the offensive line,'" Shurmur recalled during his introductory press conference. "And I think there's a great example of that, what we went through in Minnesota. We didn't change the oil up there; we changed the transmission. We went and got two free-agent offensive linemen, we drafted a center that played like a veteran, and we transformed the offensive line that helped us do the things that helped us win 14 games (including one in the playoffs).
"So I think it's very important, no matter how good your offensive line is and your defensive line, you have to address those issues constantly, because if you can't block them and you can't pressure the quarterback, this game gets really, really, really hard. I know that about Dave. I know we have a serious mindset when it comes to doing what we can to upgrade in those areas. And some of it may be just inspiring a player on the roster to play better than he's played, you know, and that comes back to coaching. And then we all know that every once in a while you need to get some new players."
In the meantime, Jones will be working and watching.