The New York Giants have made it a major point of emphasis to improve the offensive line over these past two years. General manager Dave Gettleman has made multiple significant moves in order to rebuild the offensive line.
Last offseason, Gettleman’s biggest move was the signing of former Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder. Solder was signed to a record-breaking contract. He received a 4-year, $62 million deal with the Giants that made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.
This acquisition was met with a lot of praise, but also a lot of criticism. Many fans feel Solder was not worthy of this contract and that he would not meet expectations.
How Nate Solder Met Those Expectations
Nate Solder proved the naysayers wrong in 2018, despite popular belief. Most of the fans who think Solder disappointed in 2018 are basing their opinion on only the first half of the season.
In the first half of the 2018 season, Nate Solder was met with two extreme challenges. Firstly, Solder dealt with a bulging disc in his neck that greatly affected his performance. Nate was not able to play at 100% until midway through the season.
Secondly, Nate Solder had spent the first 7 years of his career protecting Tom Brady in New England. Switching teams was a big adjustment for him as he tried to get acclimated to the Giants’ offense. The reason this change was so difficult is due to the change in quarterbacks.
Tom Brady’s drop back was significantly shorter than Eli Manning’s, which allowed Solder to push the pass-rusher behind Brady as he stepped up into the pocket. The left tackle had to adjust to Eli’s deeper drop back, as he caught himself pushing edge rusher directly into Manning early on in the season.
Once Nate Solder fixed this, he was the solid, franchise left tackle that he was in New England. Solder was the 5th highest-graded player on the Giants in 2018 by Pro Football Focus. According to PFF, Solder even had the highest single-game grade out of any offensive lineman in 2018.
In his first season outside of New England, Solder managed an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 74.1 which ranked 16th out of 35 qualifying left tackles. This level of play from the left tackle position is something the Giants have been missing for years (thanks to the ultimate bust, Ereck Flowers).
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Solder’s first half of the 2018 season left a lot to be desired for. But once he adjusted to Manning’s longer drop back and once his injury healed, Solder performed at a much higher level.
Nate Solder allowed six sacks and 20 total pressures through the first eight games. However, he rebounded in a big way over the second half of the year, allowing only one sack and 13 total pressures.
Unfortunately, Nate Solder has suffered another injury and will miss the 2019 OTAs. Solder will be ready to go for training camp and should have no problem being at 100% for the start of the 2019 season. A fully healthy season will be key for Nate Solder as he attempts to live up to his humungous contract. But now that he is acclimated to the Giants’ offense, all Nate has to do is stay healthy and he will prove that he was worth every penny.