The New York Giants Offensive Line Rebuild Is NOT Complete

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants are coming off of a crushing loss to the Arizona Cardinals in week seven. The Giants gave up 8 sacks to the Cardinals’ defense. The most notable sacks came on crucial third and fourth downs late in the game to officially hand the Giants their third loss in a row.

I admit it, I was wrong. I was really hopeful for the Giants’ offensive line heading into this season. In the offseason, I wrote an article stating that the rebuild was in fact complete. Kudos to all those who thought otherwise. Unfortunately, you were right. The Giants’ offensive line is not finished being rebuilt. In fact, it is far from it.

Left Tackle Liability

The Giants shocked the league in the 2018 offseason when they decided to make Nate Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman of all time. Solder was certainly an upgrade over Ereck Flowers, so many fans were fine with the signing. The Giants were simply filling a position of need with the best player available.

But many fans were quick to point out the potential risk of the Nate Solder signing. Solder was an average left tackle being paid like a world-class player. Sure, he was an improvement. But how big of an improvement was he really? Well, this season, Solder has not looked anything close to the player the Giants are paying for.

So far, through 7 weeks of the 2019 NFL season, Nate Solder has allowed 5 sacks and a whopping 26 pressures. That means that Nate Solder is letting his man get to the quarterback at an average around 4 times per game. To put this in perspective, Nate Solder allowed a total of 33 pressures through the entire 2018 season. Nate Solder is clearly regressing to a below-average left tackle and quickly becoming a liability on offense. Unfortunately, Solder and the Giants are tied to the hip with no real out in his contract until 2021 when the dead cap number drops to $6.5 million, which is still a hefty cap burden to bear.

In this video, you can see Nate Solder was beaten badly multiple times against the Arizona Cardinals.

Rocky Right Tackle Play

On the other side of the offensive line, it has not been much better. Newly-signed right tackle Mike Remmers has been a disappointment so far. Remmers has allowed 24 pressures and 2 sacks through 7 games.

To put this in perspective, Mike Remmers is averaging about 3.43 pressures per game. If he keeps at this rate, he would end the season with roughly 54 total pressures allowed. Last year, the Giants’ biggest offensive line liability, Chad Wheeler, allowed only 43 total pressures.

The Giants pass protection did not receive an upgrade at right tackle this offseason. Luckily, the Giants are not stuck with Remmers in the long-run like they are with Solder. The Giants signed Mike Remmers to a one-year deal this offseason and can easily move on from him either through the draft or free agency (where New York is set to have lots of money to spend). Fans should just hope that Dave Gettleman does not tie up too much money to an average offensive tackle again this offseason.

A Hole In The Center

The Giants were excited to get their center Jon Halapio back from injury this season. Jon suffered a broken leg in week two of the 2018 season. To that point, the Giants’ offensive line was atrocious, but Halapio was performing the best out of any of the players in the unit.

In week one of the 2018 season, Jon Halapio had Pro Football Focus’s third-best pass blocking grade (85.2) among centers with at least 50 offensive snaps. Dave Gettleman himself said that Halapio was playing the best out of anyone on the offensive line before he got injured.

This led the Giants to feel content with their talent at center and roll with Jon Halapio in 2019. Halapio has struggled so far this season. So far this season, Halapio has posted a Pro Football Focus grade of 51.6, ranking him 26th in the league at his position.

While Halapio is not the worst center option, and he is on a cap-friendly deal, there is certainly room for improvement. Halapio is an inconsistent center who has flashed great potential as a pass-blocker but seems to be making too many mental mistakes in 2019. Such as this play against the Minnesota Vikings:

The Part That The Giants Have Right

The Giants have their hands tied at left tackle and could use a major upgrades at right tackle and center. But there are two other positions on the offensive line that they seem to have right.

Much of the pressure that the Giants have let up this season has come off the edge, which is why we can place blame on Mike Remmers and Nate Solder. But the Giants’ guards, as expected, have been the strength of the offensive line so far.

Kevin Zeitler is still playing like a top-ten player at his position. He has allowed only one sack so far this season, committed only one penalty, and has done a nice job keeping pressure away from the quarterback. The Giants are paying big money for Kevin Zeitler, too, but at least they are getting high-level production from their right guard.

Will Hernandez is in his second season and has been quietly building off of his strong rookie campaign. He has had his fair share of mistakes (3 penalties), but the sophomore left guard has not allowed a single sack so far this season. Big Will also boasts one of PFF’s highest pass-blocking grades at his position with a grade of 79.5.

So, unfortunately, the Giants’ offensive line rebuild is not complete. It is, disappointingly, far from it. Sure, they have two strong pieces in place at both guard positions. But the Giants’ lack of talent at the tackle positions is proving to be killer this season. New York will need to address this in the offseason and continue working towards a long-term plan for their offensive line rebuild.

New York Giants: What does LB Deone Bucannon bring to Big Blue?

New York Giants, Deone Bucannon

The New York Giants signed former Arizona Cardinal and Tampa Bay Cardinals linebacker, Deone Bucannon, on Tuesday afternoon, filling a position of need with a familiar player.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher worked with Bucannon earlier in his career in Arizona, where he enjoyed some of his best seasons. The former first-round pick will pick up the role Tae Davis was supposed to fill this season before being benched and stashed away for a rainy day.

Bettcher utilizes a position called the “money backer,” which is essentially a blend of a tradition linebacker and outside linebacker. It requires a robust and fast player who can rush the passer but also drop back into coverage — something Bucannon has done in the past.

The fifth-year player has played strong safety in the past, giving him knowledge of multiple positions, which is beneficial for Big Blue, who will hope to plug him in right away alongside Alec Ogletree and David Mayo in the middle of the field. His influence can be valuable, but he’s three seasons from a productive campaign. While the Buccaneers cut him, the reasoning will give you more justification for his quality.

Bucannon was cut to enable a third-round compensatory pick selection for Tampa Bay, which was more valuable than the linebacker. Take the tidbit of information as you will, but he can fill a needed role for the Giants and has plenty of experience with Bettcher on defense.

The New York Giants are developing the linebacker position but are ways away:

With Ryan Connelly quickly establishing himself as the top linebacker on the team as a rookie, it puts Ogletree on the trade-block this season and could potentially send him on his way next offseason. Bucannon can help in the middle of the field and create confusion for defenses, and if he can regain his form from the past, there could be an argument to be made for a possible contract extension.

Of course, we need to see what the linebacker has to offer in live-action before we make any judgment calls.

New York Mets: The “Bombshell Candidate”

Drama and the New York Mets go together like peanut butter and jelly. As the Mets narrowed down their managerial search down to four, a source connected to the organization said a “bombshell candidate” could be in play should the Mets feel none of the final four are worth hiring.

This leaves a realm of possibilities for who this mystery candidate is. The first name that comes to mind is Jessica Mendoza. She spent the 2019 season working in the organization and it would be no surprise to see Brodie Van Wagenen make a move like this. Mendoza would also have the least control out of all the candidates and cause a real stir around the baseball world.

Terry Collins Busy?

Terry Collins is another person who spend the last year working with the Mets. Two years removed from managing the Mets, he was the last manager to bring the Mets to the World Series. With the Mets moving towards an analytic driven decision maker, it will push Collins away from managing again.

A-Rod in Mets Pinstripes?

This might be the biggest longshot out everyone. Though he grew up a Mets fan, he would be forced to give up his luxurious life to spend long hours managing. He knows the game inside and out, but he will come at a very expensive price. Plus, Rodriguez would be nearly impossible to control.

The last person on my list of mystery candidates is the general manager himself. Van Wagenen seemed to control a majority of Mickey Callaway’s moves, so why not step into the dugout himself. He would have to face the fire instead of using some else as a human shield for his boneheaded decisions.

Purely Speculation

All of these names are hypotheticals. These are the best guesses I could make based on the extremely limited information we all have. It would be in the best interests of the Mets to hire one of the four candidates they brought in. Preferably, Joe Girardi.

New York Yankees couldn’t have made the ALCS without one monster player

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

Baseball is a team sport, but for the New York Yankees, it seems as if one player in particular completely willed them to the postseason and ALCS series. Utility-man DJ LeMahieu is the man of honor, finishing the year with an astounding .327 batting average, hitting 26 homers and 102 RBIs.

LeMahieu’s stellar campaign ended gloriously, attempting to drag his team back into the ALCS by the skin of his teeth. He blasted an opposite-field home run to tie the game 4-4 in the ninth-inning, giving his exhausted team a chance to fight back and find a way to secure the win.

“It kind of embodies his season — that at-bat, so good,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “Off their closer, obviously. Just a really good battle and spoiled pitches, spoiled pitches, finally got one he could handle and ride out of there. As that at-bat’s going on, I just felt so good about him doing something. I knew he was going to put it in play hard somewhere and sure enough he did. What more can you say about the season he’s had?”

No more than 15 minutes later, Houston Astros mighty midget, Jose Altuve, hit a walk-off dinger to send them to the World Series and the Yankees back to the brisk Bronx. However, this doesn’t denounce the quality season DJ enjoyed and what he did for the team.

Ultimately, it was a harsh way to lose, and the entire tea believed they had a chance to reach the World Series. It boiled down to the bottom of the 9th inning, where Aroldis Chapman sealed the game with a hanging slider.

How impactful was DJ LeMahieu for the New York Yankees?

No matter what you say about the Yankees, LeMahieu was the best part of their season. General manager Brian Cashman struck gold on a two-year deal worth $24 million for the contact hitter. While his offense was a significant part of his success, the former Rockie’s defense is what made him a staple for the future.

Acting as a utility man, LeMahieu played nearly every position in the infield, even at first base, where he had never previously featured. Playing the entire back-end of the regular season at first with Luke Voit and Edwin Encarnacion out, DJ allowed two errors over 40 games.

Compare that to Voit, for example, who allowed seven errors over 83 games, and you see just how valuable the 30-year-old is. The Yankees grabbed a steal with the utility-man, and he will undoubtedly be a focal point moving forward. Cashman is preparing to splash the cash on premium pitching talent, which should give the team a leg up next season. Starting pitching was the downfall of the team this year.

New York Knicks Picked Up Frank Ntilikina’s Fourth Year $6.3 Million Option

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks picked up Frank Ntilikina‘s fourth-year option before the season opener. The Knicks third year Frenchman will be due $6.3 million in his fourth year.

FIBA Frank was what everybody called the native Strasbourg point-guard due to his improved play during the international FIBA tournament this past offseason. Ntilikina spent his offseason improving his craft and took advantage of his opportunity to prove his worth by performing very well in a victory against Team USA during the FIBA Basketball World Cup Quarter-Finals. This is the game that stood out over the summer as Ntilikina gave Kemba Walker fits with full-court defensive pressure. The 21-year-old Knick guard scored 11-points on 5/9-shooting from the field and added 3-assists along with a +22 plus/minus rating during the France 89-79 victory over team USA. The next game against Argentina, Ntilikina scored his FIBA tournament-high of 16-points on 7/12-shooting from the field along with 2-assists. The young Knick guard looked like he was beginning to turn the corner with his FIBA play. His confidence began to build and it started carrying over into how he played against fierce competition.

Knicks coach David Fizdale ended up stealing some offensive sets ran by French coach Vincent Collet. The French coach was even invited to training camp to help with Ntilikina’s growth. According to Fizdale and others, Ntilikina had a solid training camp as he battled for the starting point-guard position. It’s obvious that there’s an investment the Knicks have in Ntilikina and they’re patiently grooming the young guard for future success.

Former New York Giant Tuck Will Always be a Great

Former defensive end for the New York Giants Justin Tuck was a robust player whose might and doughty plays made him a powerhouse for the team!  Tuck was not only an indomitable force on the field, but also made waves off the field!

When you think of a great leader, the first thing that should come to your mind is Tuck!  Whenever players may have been losing morale, Tuck was there to boost it!  Win, lose or tie, Tuck never let his valiance wane!

Tuck was truly a forced to be reckoned with when it came to the game of football, but off the field he was a gentle GIANT!  When the New York Giants announced he would no longer be with the team, in a classy move, Tuck took out a full page ad in the local New York newspaper thanking the New York Giants team, the organization and the fans!

Tuck never forgets his teammates and supports them through and through!  For instance, each year former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin holds a gala honoring cancer patients and Tuck is there each and every single year!

Through his organization, Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for literacy, Tuck and his wonderful wife Lauran, have helped bring awareness to the reading by stressing the importance of literacy for all!

Tuck and Lauran have created a beautiful family!  They are amazing role models and inspiration to their sons Jayce and Jonah!  They show them what it is like to be classy, kind, giving people.  When it comes to being amazing parents, they give it their all!

Tuck gave the New York Giants two Super Bowls and countless plays, but in essence he gave us so much more than that!  Tuck is the epitome of grace and an embodiment of what it means to be a hero!  Tuck gave New York Giants fans nothing but class, which is why we will always have the utmost love and respect for him!

New York Yankees: It’s Time To Name Aaron Judge Captain

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

When Derek Jeter retired from baseball in 2014, he left some big shoes to fill on the New York Yankees. Didi Gregorius filled the role of the player, progressively getting better every year.

But, now five years removed from Jeter’s retirement, a player hasn’t filled his shoes as “the captain”. After a disappointing season for the team and now going into his fourth full season, it’s no better time to name Aaron Judge as the new captain of the New York Yankees.

Why?

In my opinion, Judge has all the qualities of a great captain. When he speaks with the media, he always has a team first mentality. If he goes 5-for-5 with a couple home runs and the team loses, his stats mean nothing to him. But, if he goes 0-for with four strikeouts and the team loses, he takes the blame for the loss. No matter how good or bad he plays, he’s just happy to get a win.

Also, the way he interacts with the fans is incredible. He always takes time to sign autographs, talk to fans, and throw balls in the stands. I’m living proof of it.

Back in spring of 2016 when Judge was in AAA, my family and I went to a game between the Railriders and the Syracuse Chiefs in Syracuse, near where I am from. There is this deck in right field that I was watching the game from, and after Judge caught the third out of an inning, I yelled to him and asked for the ball. He peered into the stands and threw it, but not to me. He couldn’t find me, but he sure tried.

Then after that game, I waited for the team outside the clubhouse. I got plenty of autographs that day, including Gary Sanchez. But the best one was Judge.

Not just did he sign my ball, he took a few minutes of his time to talk to me. He asked if and where I played baseball, what position I play, where I’m from, etc. It was one of the coolest two minutes of my life.

And because of many other experiences like that, New York fans absolutely adore him. He’s appeared in so many commercials, and was one of the youngest to grace the cover of MLB The Show.

His support and love for New York is unparalleled, and he helps the team so much on and off the field. Going into 2020, it’s no better time to name Aaron Judge the captain of the New York Yankees.

New York Knicks starting point guard is still up-in-the-air

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale is not announcing the start point guard until game day.  This has been a position that has been up-in-the-air from the beginning.

Dennis Smith Jr. was the clear favorite to be the starting point guard.  However, due to his lower back injury, that is now in question.  Smith Jr. is not 100% and his ‘new and improved” is not up to NBA standards.  He shot 2-for-12 from the field in the preseason finale against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton both have not separated themselves from one another to require the starting job or more minutes.

Ntilikina is the better defender but his offensive skills are still lacking.  He should get more minutes regardless because he his 7-foot wingspan can be a problem against the opponents guards.

Payton can run the offense smoothly but does not move the needle much offensively or defensively.  He could get the starting nod solely based off his experience.

RJ Barrett is the more interesting part about this point guard scenario.  When was running point, the offense ran the best it has with any other guard.  However, Barrett is not a natural point guard.  If anything, he’s a shooting guard.  Barrett has earned a starting spot regardless.  He continues to improve every game and shows he’s a building block for the foreseeable future.

The Knicks unofficial leader, Julius Randle, has given the edge to Smith Jr. and rightfully so.  His athletic ability, when healthy, makes him a no-brainer to start.   However, with his back still not 100%, the starting spot isn’t his yet.

The New York Knicks will be exploring a variety of guard combinations to begin the season.  The Knicks should start Barrett and Ntilikina because they will give the Knicks the best of both worlds.  Barrett contributes on offense and defense.  Ntilikina is a lock-down defender and has the basketball IQ to make plays when needed.

New York Giants: Could Evan Engram be on the trading block?

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants have enjoyed the services of tight end, Evan Engram. When he’s catching the ball. The weather played a significant part in Engram’s one-catch for six yards on Sunday afternoon, despite five targets on the day. He finished with a 20% catch rate and dropped two passes, one of which would have likely earned the Giants three points.

In what was one of the more disappointing losses for the Giants on the year, Engram played a big part in the team’s flopping. Head coach Pat Shurmur added his twist on the loss and contributed in the form of poor time management and decision making.

However, Engram has played quite well this season, earning 373-yards going into week seven against Arizona. He also boasted a catch-rate close to 70% before seeing the statistic plummet. The speedy tight end took off his gloves due to the rain in the 27-21 loss, but he might have been better off keeping them on, considering the leathery material alternative options that would have given him a better grip.

Will the New York Giants consider trading Evan Engram before the deadline?

The October 29 trade deadline poses many questions for a Giants team gasping for air going into week eight against the Detroit Lions. Adding draft capital is part of their rebuild process, and going into year three should spur more optimism. The reality is, the team isn’t anywhere close to where it needs to be, and whether they take a significant step forward next year or not, adding value to the 2020 draft, which is stocked full of receivers, might be a good move.

Engram is a glorified wide receiver who rarely dominates from a blocking perspective. The Giants could theoretically replace him with another pass-catcher, or commit to the run game, which is general manager Dave Gettleman’s preference. Blocking tight ends that can seal the edge and help release star running back Saquon Barkley might be more valuable in the Giants’ scheme. Engram is having a solid campaign, despite that fact.

The Giants could be open to offers, including Engram, and they should be unwilling to accept anything less than a second-round pick. Going into his fourth season, the tight end has proved he can be a difference-maker on offense, but the Giants have failed to benefit from his services to justify him being untouchable.

A team like the New England Patriots could be buyers in this theoretical scenario. They have a stellar offense, and adding a piece like Engram to their unit would make them unstoppable. One can only imagine what Bill Belichick could do with a player like Easy E.

New York Knicks: The point guard spot is up for grab, or is it? Elfrid Payton wants more

New York Knicks, Elfrid Payton

The New York Knicks had a rough start to the preseason at the point guard position, especially veteran Elfrid Payton, who averaged just 3.7 points per game over 22.3 minutes. His influence was not what the Knicks expected, but it’s still very early and the regular season has yet to even start.

Payton joined New York with the expectation that he would be competing for the starting job, and it seems that third-year player Dennis Smith Jr. will be the featured starter despite averaging just 6.5 points over 26.0 minutes. Smith has looked better in other categories as well including assists, rebounds, and blocks. It could be a result of more games played for Payton who’s are more leveled out.

“Dennis hasn’t played in just one game,’’ Fizdale said beforehand. “I want to get his minutes up to speed. Elfrid will be his third game and Frank has played three. We’ll have enough body of work to evaluate these guys.’’

Frank Ntilikina, on the other hand, made numerous key defensive plays, but his offense is still struggling at a rate that is impossible to bounce back from. He can’t get over the six-points per game average hump, as he earned just 5.3 points over three games (21.0 minutes per).

The two-year, $16 million deal for Payton reportedly had a kicker, though, as per the NY Post. Payton would be the starting point guard for the Knicks, and that reality is not coming to fruition considering his preseason performances. Smith Jr. is the player the front office wants to stick with and develop around their team. The assets they had to part with to bring him in and inject his athletic abilities into the team were astronomical, and he hasn’t shown us why he can be the future at the position.

Ultimately, Smith’s lack of production so far is what gives Elfrid so much optimism moving forward.

What does Elfrid Payton bring to the New York Knicks?

Payton has a strong interior presence and can drive to the hoop, which he failed to do against the Washington Wizards at home, going 0-for-9 and missing numerous easy chances. However, he’s a proven player and has a specific skill-set that the Knicks are keen on utilizing.

“What EP does, gets into the paint, it’s kind of hard to keep him out of there, he can finish around the rim very well,’’ Holiday said at the Friday morning shootaround at the Garden. “He can play defense very well. His vision on the court, that’s why he’s a point guard. But one thing last year for me, that was how well he shot the three. And I think people kind of slept on that.’’