The biggest question for the New York Giants heading into the 2021 season revolves around an offensive line unit that struggled considerably to keep Daniel Jones safe last year. Despite general manager Dave Gettleman guaranteeing that he would solve the woes in the trenches, the line ranked dead last in pass-blocking efficiency in 2020.
However, they are adequate in the run game, but as the NFL adapts to a more passing-centric style, the Giants are going to need to adjust before they doom their quarterback to another year on the run.
This off-season, the front office did very little to bolster the group, but there is hope they can take a step forward with the hiring of Rob Sale and Pat Flaherty as a consultant. However, avoiding the necessary bolstering could end up biting the Giants in the butt. They are optimistic the young guns will take a developmental step forward.
The projected offensive line for the 2021 season:
LT: Andrew Thomas
LG: Shane Lemieux
C: Nick Gates
RG: Will Hernandez
RT: Matt Peart
ESPN projects the Giants’ OL to once again be one of the worst pass-blocking units in the NFL:
32. New York Giants
Projected PBWR: 52%
Projected offensive line: Andrew Thomas (56th), Shane Lemieux (69th), Nick Gates (34th), Will Hernandez (31st), Matt Peart (DNQ)
So much for general manager Dave Gettleman’s grand plan for the offensive line. The rookie Thomas performed well according to our run blocking metric, but he was a liability as a pass protector — though he did battle an ankle injury that required surgery after the season.
In what could be a make-or-break season for third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, Gettleman got him more receiving help, but Jones is going to be on the run behind this O-line.
The primary factors that brew optimism are significant, ranging from a full off-season of work, in-person training, and consistent coaching. Left tackle Andrew Thomas dealt with an ankle injury throughout the 2020 season, which required surgery immediately after the year concluded. In addition, his offensive line coach Marc Columbo was fired mid-season, and his technique was changed considerably compared to his strengths while featuring with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Right tackle Matt Peart has added healthy muscle mass this off-season, increasing his strength and agility, which should assist in better pass-blocking snaps and a bigger frame in the run game. During his rookie campaign, Peart experienced just 150 total snaps, spending the majority of his time at right tackle, and the Giants expect him to win the position over Nate Solder this off-season.
Big Blue is investing a lot of chips into guards Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez, who’re solid run blockers but lack serious fundamentals in pass protection. Hernandez is moving over to RG, where the Giants left a void with the departure of Kevin Zeitler. The hope is that Hernandez will adapt seamlessly to the right side, where he can be a more proficient run blocker alongside Peart. Lemieux, who was tortured in pass pro last year, has also been working tirelessly to improve his technique and functional strength. Behind them, the Giants have little depth, relying on Zach Fulton and a bevy of undrafted free agents.
Best case scenario is that the OL plays at an average level, in my opinion. On the off chance, they emerge as one of the best young offensive line’s in football, the Giants’ offense should take a significant step forward. However, that might be an optimistic viewpoint considering how little the Giants did to add talent. They invested more in coaching to help their players, which has proved to be a solution in the past.