The New York Giants might’ve walked away from their final preseason game of the off-season with more questions than answers. The starting offense was without several key playmakers, including Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Saquon Barkley, and Kyle Rudolph. With that being the case, quarterback Daniel Jones once again operated with less than stellar starting talent, but it was the offensive line that put him in harm’s way more often than not.
With the OL being the biggest concern, it was disappointing to see several poor performances that led to Jones either running from pass rushers or being thrown to the ground. There were some positives in the trenches, but two glaring weaknesses at tackle stand out.
Evaluating each starting offensive lineman in New York Giants’ final pre-season game:
LT: Andrew Thomas
Most entered Sunday’s game against the Patriots with a common belief, Andrew Thomas had taken a step forward this off-season. While some might stand by that assessment, Thomas was completely destroyed in pass protection, allowing a sack, a quarterback hit, one QB hurry, and three pressures over 39 snaps. Altogether, Thomas looked choppy and hesitant with his technique, indicating he was trying to stay square for as long as possible before kicking out to the edge.
Andrew Thomas absolutely destroyed on the 3rd play of the game, Uche sacks Daniel Jones….
On the bright side, Jones saw the pressure and protected the football. pic.twitter.com/OZD8DT2YAk
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) August 29, 2021
“Started off a little slow. [There are] some things I’ve gotta improve on: hand placement, staying wide on my set to [create] the depth of the pocket. I’m confident. I’ve made improvements, but there’s still things I need to work on.”
LG: Ted Larsen
With Shane Lemieux still sidelines, the Giants rolled with Ted Larsen at left guard to start the game. Larsen allowed a sack, QB hurry, and two pressures over 39 snaps. The 34-year-old guard will likely be supplemented by Lemieux in Week 1, but gaining essential chemistry during the preseason is necessary for positive growth. The Giants can’t possibly rely on Larsen as a starting guard, so this evaluation views him as a depth piece and nothing more.
C: Nick Gates
While the negative performances undoubtedly littered the field, center Nick Gates had a solid outing, dominating as a run blocker primarily. Per PFF, Gates was hit with two QB hurries and two pressures recorded, but he looked solid nonetheless.
Gates is one of the more consistent linemen for the Giants, and they expect him to lock down the center role for the 2021 season. Gates improved as the 2020 campaign went on, so I expect something similar moving forward as the regular season is just two weeks away.
RG: Will Hernandez
Of all the offensive linemen for the Giants on Sunday, Will Hernandez looked the best. He earned an 87 overall grade, per PFF, declining to give up a sack, QB hit, or pressure. Overall, he was the best looking lineman for the Giants and would’ve been for most teams. You never want to hear an offensive lineman’s name too often during a contest, and Hernandez was essentially a ghost. Putting together a few performances like this will get the coaching staff excited, but unless the rest of the OL can take a developmental step forward, they’ll once again be pulling Daniel Jones under pressure.
RT: Nate Solder/Matt Peart
Nate Solder enjoyed 20 snaps at right tackle in the loss to the Patriots, and during that time, he allowed a sack and pressure. While he served adequately as a run blocker, this was Solder’s first action of the preseason, and he was always going to experience a few bumpy snaps.
Overall, the right tackle spot is currently enjoying a position battle between Solder and the Peart. At this point, I would give Peart the slightest advantage, having allowed one QB hit and pressure over 32 snaps. The Giants would prefer to have their youngsters starting a tackle come Week 1, but they need to be comfortable with the idea that Daniel Jones may be under a bit of pressure at times.