The New York Giants have made aggressive efforts to rebuild the offensive line the past two season, with general manager Dave Gettleman setting a record-breaking contract with left tackle Nate Solder’s four-year, $62 million deal (Spotrac).
He then spent a high second-round pick on Will Hernandez and recently traded the team’s best pass-rusher for right guard, Kevin Zeitler. Several weeks later they upgraded the right tackle position with Mike Remmers over Chad Wheeler.
Veteran quarterback Eli Manning will be the benefactor of these improvements, however, he will have to shake off years of wear and tear and muscle memory in what could be his final season.
Watching Manning play, you can tell how comfortable he is by looking at his feet. If they’re stable and not too jumpy, you know he’s locked in and relying on his awareness to avoid pressure, but when his feet start to scramble and lose sync, you know he’s feeling the incoming pressure.
More often than not, he’s in total disarray at the expense of the offensive line. This will be the first season in years since he’s had solid protection capable of providing him with time in the pocket. Given, this unit looks great on paper and nothing more. It’s expected Solder and Hernandez will develop into a solid duo and Zeitler will pick up right where he left off as a top 5 guard in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns.
The New York Giants need to help Manning get rid of his fear:
Years of inadequate line play has left Manning shell-shocked, anticipating a lethal pass-rush that can’t be stopped. He’s in a different situation this year and will need to revert to his old self and rely on his protection to come through. When Eli is focused, he can be deadly, but when he’s rattled there’s nothing stopping him from throwing multiple interceptions.
That’s a reality that he has faced from the beginning of games in recent years — he was expecting little help in the trenches. The muscle memory he’s developed because of that will need to be re-written, and he will need to do it quickly in what could be his final year.
Luckily, Gettleman has given him the tools to change, it’s up to him now to take advantage.