ARLINGTON, Texas. — There is this overt public strategy when dealing with Ereck Flowers, handed down from one coaching staff to the next, from Tom Coughlin to Ben McAdoo and now to Pat Shurmur. It can be summed up thusly: Tread lightly.
There is tough love and then there is the approach taken with Flowers. Say no evil.
It is almost as if there is a fear harsh words will lead to breakage, like a rambunctious youngster twirling and whirling around a narrow store aisle display of fragile glassware while the anxiety-ridden parents stand by in breathless anticipation of a crashing sound. What goes on behind closed doors is up for conjecture, but with Flowers, it is public support, even in the darkest times, with no loud and clear criticism ever directed at the big offensive tackle.
Shurmur, who thus far has refrained from critiquing any player out in the open, redirects every Flowers inquiry, steadfastly insisting Flowers is no different than any other player who mixes in good moments and bad moments.
The baton is picked up by those who compose Shurmur’s staff. Listen to what offensive coordinator Mike Shula said, when asked what he learned about Flowers from the season-opening 20-15 loss to the Jaguars.
“Yeah, I think we all learned a lot about everybody, so we just all need to be more consistent in regard to, No. 1, be more consistent, and No. 2, get off to a better start,’’ Shula said, not even allowing Flowers’ name to cross his lips.
Flowers was not good in his first start at right tackle. He was called for a tripping penalty on the first offensive play of the Shurmur era. Two plays later, he was called for a holding penalty. He gave up a sack. A few plays later, Shurmur said he is confident in Flowers heading into Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.
“I can tell there’s a lot of interest in Ereck Flowers,’’ Shurmur said. “Everybody that played made mistakes. We’re doing what we can to not make those again. We’re constantly working with the players to help them overcome the things that didn’t go well on the field.’’
Flowers rarely has much to say about his performance, his feelings or about anything. When approached, he may offer a sentence or two and then politely say he does not really feel like talking.
Flowers was involved in the game-deciding play last week, as he was caught blocking no one and the result was a tipped-pass interception pick-six for the Jaguars. There was no outward finger-pointing at Flowers. Rather, there was defense of his inaction.
“They had a pretty good fake blitz that put Ereck in a bind trying to block two guys,’’ Eli Manning said.
Indeed, it was a tough play for Flowers, but he did not get a body on anyone. The Giants thought moving him to right tackle would ease the burden on him, even while cognizant the NFL is full of pass-rushers who line up on the left side of the defense, directly across from the right tackle.
“Honestly it used to be, in the old days, you had a big, strong right tackle and you had a pass protecting left tackle, every team had one good pass rusher,’’ offensive line coach Hal Hunter said. “Now the way people do it, they’ll move a good pass rusher to the other side.’’
The Cowboys do not have to do a thing, as their top defensive lineman, DeMarcus Lawrence, will line up in his customary spot, which happens to be across from Flowers.
“I don’t know what to expect there,’’ Shurmur said of where Lawrence will line up. “Nothing would surprise me.’’
Flowers will be at the center of the storm, again. No matter what happens, do not expect the Giants to say anything disparaging about their 24-year old lineman.