New York Giants: Can we trust the offensive line during the regular season?

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, Mike Remmers
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The New York Giants are going into the 2020 season with a sense of optimism around the team. Hiring head coach Joe Judge was the catalyst behind a major shift in mentality and discipline within the organization. Practices have been more intense, players are being held accountable, and the coaching staff is finally taking the reins in development.

Previous years have shown us what leisure feels like, with practices being less intense. Nonetheless, the coaching staff Judge has assembled is already showing their value and influence on the players.

Offensive line coach Marc Colombo, who previously worked with the Dallas Cowboys, has brought his gritty style to the Giants. The O-lone has struggled the past few seasons and was desperately in need of a disciplinarian who was also a former player. Colombo has been a key piece through the first few weeks of practice in the development of rookies Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart.

The question remains, can we trust the offense of line in 2020, and will they be any better than the unit the Giants featured in 2019?

“Unproven” is the word I would like to use for the offensive line, considering the Giants will likely utilize rookie Andrew Thomas at left tackle. While he has struggled at times during his first few weeks of padded practices, he also showed his immense upside. The first few weeks of the season will be extremely challenging for Thomas, who hasn’t faced off against NFL talent just yet. Players like Demarcus Lawrence, TJ Watt, Khalil Mack, and Nick Bosa are what lie ahead.

The experience against premium level pass rushers will ultimately help Thomas in his development, but it might put Daniel Jones in a problematic situation quite often early on in the season.

From a left tackle perspective, I am not confident that Thomas will dominate to start his career. However, throwing him into the fire will help him down the line and show him how to adapt to premium level talents.

At left guard, the Giants have Will Hernandez, who vastly underperformed in 2019 but wasn’t helped much by Nate Solder and Jon Halapio. I feel confident that Hernandez well hold down the left guard position; his gritty style matches up perfectly with Colombo’s way of teaching. I think this will be his best season yet.


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The New York Giants are still figuring out the center spot:

The center position is another interesting position battle. Spencer Pulley, who has missed the fact the past few days of practice, could give way to Nick Gates, who has been training under center this off-season. Gates supposedly looks like he’s been playing center all his life, and I believe he will become the cemented starter moving forward. It is quite impressive that he has been able to supplement right tackle, right guard, and center. They can always utilize him as a utility player if an injury occurs, sliding pulling back into the center position. However, given his lack of experience, it is still an unknown spot.

Right guard, the only consistent threat on the offensive line, Kevin Zeitler. The former Cleveland Brown has been a fantastic addition for the Giants, and probably one of the best adds by general manager Dave Gettleman. Trading pass rusher Olivier Vernon for him was a fantastic move and gave the Giants a semblance of adequacy on the right side of the line.

He will remain a focal point, and he could actually get better with Colombo training him. At right tackle, the Giants are set to go with Cam Fleming, unless they swap him and Thomas. Thomas has been cross-training with the possibility of starting the season on the right side, given the elite matchups at left tackle.

Joe Judge is quite confident that Fleming can hold his own, having played with him during Super Bowls in the past. His experience and ability to swap sides make him extremely valuable, and he holds up well in pass protection, which is a major benefit for Jones.

Overall, the line is full of questions and caution. I don’t feel confident that they will be an above-average group in 2020, but they are on the path to becoming a stable unit in 2021.