New York Giants: One offensive lineman is quickly gaining steam among bad performances

New York Giants, Nick Gates

The New York Giants have a long way to go before they feel confident with their offensive line, but they are quickly making steps in the right direction at one position. I’ll give you a hint, it is not left tackle or right tackle. In fact, it is Nick Gates at center, an experiment that has seen positive results in recent weeks.

Gates started off his 2020 season with tumultuous performances, earning a 54.4 overall grade against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He went only down from there, all the way to 42.6 against the Dallas Cowboys, but a switch flipped and him, and since then, he has only gotten significantly better.

According to PFF, against strong Washington and Philadelphia defensive fronts, Gates saw his numbers boost by 20 points.

Against the Eagles, Gates had his best pass blocking game of the season, finishing with an 84.1 grade and not allowing a single pressure on 39 pass-blocking attempts. Against the run, he needs a bit more work, especially when it comes to disengaging his first level block and moving to the second level to pick up linebackers.

Check out the clip below, which shows Gates paves a massive hole for running back Devonta Freeman, but he fails to get to the second level and stop the linebacker, limiting Freeman’s run.

The New York Giants are seeing progress with Gates:

These minor adjustments and play recognition comes with action, and Gates is doing a stellar job making progress early on in his career at center. Having played right guard and tackle in the past, this is his first season at the new position, so we can expect hiccups along the way.

Pass protection has been his bread and butter the past two weeks, and against the Eagles, he showed why he is undoubtedly the future in the middle of the line for the Giants.

They can feel confident with at least one position, despite the rest of the line under-performing. He could use a bit more development in his run blocking, but his recognition of stunts in pass pro has been fantastic.

Check out the clip below to see how well he picks up a delayed stunt against the Eagles, who are notoriously good at executing these.

Overall, we should be excited about his progression at center, but that doesn’t mean the Giants are anywhere close to having a strong offensive line.

Rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas has been problematic at best, failing to connect his feet and hands and struggling with timing issues, as OL coach Mark Colombo hinted at this week. Until Thomas can improve his run blocking and left guard will Hernandez plays with the zeal we know he has, the line is going to be a weakness.