New York Giants: Offensive line shows out in clutch Week 12 win

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants are now in first place in the NFC East. The Giants’ clutch 19-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals put them on top of their division. The Giants barely scraped out with a win in this game that saw starting quarterback Daniel Jones go down with a hamstring injury.

The Giants’ offense struggled to get anything going once Jones exited the lineup. But while Daniel was playing, New York’s offense was efficient, minus a couple of miscues that held them back. The Giants’ offense looked primed to breakout in the second half before Daniel Jones suffered his injury.

The reason why the Giants’ offense was performing so well: the offensive line. What has been the Giants’ biggest weakness for years was arguably their biggest offensive strength this week.

Offensive line stats and highlights in Week 12

For the first time this season, the Giants’ offensive line did not give up a sack. This comes just over a week after Joe Judge fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo and replaced him with coach Dave DeGuglielmo. In DeGuglielmo’s first game as offensive line coach of the Giants, the offensive line had its best performance of the season.

The Giants did not allow a sack and were great in the run-game, helping running back Wayne Gallman total 94 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground. The Giants gained a total of 142 rushing yards against Cincinnati.

According to Pro Football Focus, rookie offensive linemen Andrew Thomas and Shanne Lemieux were particularly impressive. PFF states that neither rookie allowed a pressure on the day. This is encouraging for the Giants to see their young linemen continue to improve with a near-flawless game in pass protection.

The Giants saw great improvement from their offensive line this week. But it still was not perfect. Right tackle Cam Fleming struggled against the Bengals, committing a number of costly penalties. This could lead the Giants to start rookie tackle Matt Peart in Fleming’s place once Peart returns from the reserve/COVID list.

This was an encouraging performance from the Giants’ offensive line. New York’s front line has struggled all season long but has seen drastic improvement in recent weeks. As New York pushes for a playoff spot in December, it will be crucial for the offensive line to continue to play at a high level.

New York Giants need to see offensive line improve after bye week

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants made a shocking move today, firing offensive line coach Marc Colombo after only ten weeks with the team. According to reports, head coach Joe Judge made the decision to fire Colombo after a verbal altercation that saw Colombo insubordinate the team’s head coach. Now, Dave DeGuglielmo will serve as the team’s offensive line coach.

The Giants’ offensive line has struggled immensely in 2020. But, over the past few weeks, there has been some improvement. According to reports, this is correlated to the fact that Joe Judge has spent more time coaching the offensive line himself.

New York’s offensive line is a point of weakness. Judge and DeGuglielmo now have a whole bye week to work together and try to fix the offensive line’s issues. As the Giants make a late-season playoff push, it is crucial that the offensive line improves after the bye week to keep the Giants in the hunt.

New York Giants Offensive Line Stats

Despite investing a hefty amount of assets into the offensive line this offseason, the Giants’ front unit has not looked improved this year. Granted, there have been slight week-to-week improvements from individual linemen, but overall it has been a struggle for this positional group.

According to Pro Football Focus, through ten games, the Giants are last in pass-block grade (47.2) and 29th in run-block grade (56.9). PFF also states that quarterback Daniel Jones has been pressured on 42.9% of dropbacks this season (second among qualifying quarterbacks). Over the last four games, Jones has been pressured on 41.1% of his dropbacks (tied-fourth most).

New York’s second-year quarterback has been under constant duress this season. When kept clean, Jones has been surgical. In Sunday’s victory over Philadelphia, Jones was 18-18 from a clean pocket for 188 yards and a PFF passing grade of 93.1.

But keeping Jones’s pocket clean has been a struggle for the Giants. Rookie first-round draft pick Andrew Thomas leads all offensive tackles in the NFL in pressures allowed. He has struggled to find his footing in the NFL and has even been outplayed by third-round rookie Matt Peart in his smaller sample size.

The New York Giants found their formula for winning against Washington and Philadelphia the past two weeks. Essentially, the offensive line has to give Daniel Jones time to make plays. When Jones has a clean pocket he can make plays and keep the ball out of harm’s way. This is why fixing the offensive line should be the top priority for the Giants to close out the final seven weeks of the 2020 NFL season, as they push to make their first playoff appearance since 2016.

Should the New York Giants roll with a young offensive line for the rest of the season?

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants‘ offensive line has struggled immensely through the first seven weeks of the 2020 NFL season. Despite this, their best lineman Kevin Zeitler has been brought up in trade discussions. Zeitler is a nine-year NFL veteran that has performed as the Giants’ best offensive lineman over the past two seasons.

Trading away Kevin Zeitler would leave the Giants with yet another huge hole in their offensive line. That hole would be filled by another rookie, Shane Lemieux, out of Oregon. This would place the Giants with two rookies starting on their offensive line, the other being left tackle Andrew Thomas. Nick Gates is also a rookie at the center position, playing this position for the first time in his career.

But should the Giants take things one step further and get as young as possible on the offensive line? New York has three rookies it could start on their offensive line: Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, and Matt Peart. Combining these three rookies with second-year Nick Gates and third-year Will Hernandez would give the Giants an insanely young offensive line.

Why the Giants’ young offensive line could be a good idea

The Giants’ offensive line is bad as it is. Could it really get that much worse? It seems like it could only get better at this point as New York’s front line has allowed Jones to be sacked 20 times through seven games. Considering this, maybe the Giants’ rookies could step in and outperform the struggling veterans.

Additionally, the Giants need answers on these rookie offensive linemen. Are they long-term solutions? The only way to find out is if these rookies get significant game-experience for the final stretch of this season. Allowing these rookies to start on the offensive line would give New York eight weeks of film to evaluate their linemen heading into the 2021 offseason.

The Giants might need to invest further into their offensive line during the 2021 NFL Draft. But if these rookies can prove themselves as legitimate starters, then New York will be able to invest their assets elsewhere.

Will Hernandez will be out in Week 8 as he tested positive this week for COVID-19. This should give rookie Shane Lemieux a chance to start this week. If Lemieux performs well, it could entice the Giants to complete a Kevin Zeitler trade. If New York does that, they should take the extra step and insert Matt Peart into the starting lineup in place of Cam Fleming. This would give the Giants’ rookies eight weeks to prove themselves before the 2021 offseason.

New York Giants’ OL coach Marc Colombo details Andrew Thomas’ issues

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants’ kryptonite this season has been left tackle Andrew Thomas, who they spent the fourth overall pick on to solidify the left side of the offensive line.

Thomas, who came from Georgia with high expectations based on his technique and strength, has severely underwhelmed during his rookie campaign. As reported by multiple analysts and former professionals, his tendencies and technique have been all over the place, shooting out of his stance too early and not utilizing his hands properly. Thomas was once a highly regarded tackle for his ability to mirror opposing pass rushers and keep his feet and hands connected.

The New York Giants are doing everything they can to turn things around from Thomas:

Everything he has done so far in 2020 has been the exact opposite of what the Giants drafted him to do, but offensive line coordinator Marc Colombo is confident they can solve his issues.

Columbo stated that a left tackle’s job is to block a defensive end 1-on-1 in the NFL, and losing a majority of the time is simply unacceptable. The Giants aren’t ready to bench him just yet and allow him to watch a new competitor at left tackle, as they feel confident he will make strides in the coming weeks.

Colombo went on to say that “timing” is Thomas’s primary issue. He’s jumping out of his sets too early and punching too quickly, which is throwing off his technique and allowing edge rushers to beat him inside and with speed rushes on the outside.

Through seven weeks, Thomas has a 58.3 overall grade, with a 43.8 pass-blocking grade and a 64.9 run-blocking grade. Last week against Philadelphia, he was a liability in pass blocking but played well against the run.

His run blocking has consistently increased in efficiency the past few weeks, but pass blocking has taken a significant dip. Evening out those numbers is the goal, and he has plenty of time to refine his abilities and make up for his deficient start to the 2020 season.

A former coach of Thomas, Paul Alexander, spoke with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. What he has seen from the young tackle has made him upset, as his technique has completely changed from Georgia.

“When he was at Georgia, he controlled guys with his hands. So I see something completely different than I saw at Georgia. And my question is: Why are you doing different things than you did? I mean, he was the best tackle in the country. And right now it’s like, ‘Oh my God!’”

Perennial Pro Bowl offensive lineman says Giants’ Andrew Thomas was ‘most risky’ in draft

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

Technique can oftentimes be the difference maker between a bad and good offensive lineman. For the New York Giants, they are experiencing those woes with fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas this season.

The rookie entered the NFL with more refined talent and heightened expectations, but he hasn’t been able to live up to those so far. His technique has completely gone out the window, as many analysts have pointed out over the past few weeks. The player he once was a Georgia no longer exists, and whatever the Giants are doing behind the scenes to correct these problems simply isn’t working.

Thomas was known for his dominant style of play in the run game, and he’s gradually improved in that category over seven weeks. Still, his pass blocking continues to be problematic, as he graded out with a 32.5 against the Philadelphia Eagles in week seven. He has an average 43.8 overall pass grade, according to PFF.

A simple disconnect between his feet and hands are a primary source behind his issues, as well as over-shooting his assignments, as offensive line coach Marc Colombo noted several weeks ago.

Thomas is jumping out of his stance and not cradling his opponent and mirroring their tactics. He’s shooting his hands like a machine gun and not corralling, as he once did with Georgia. Developing these bad habits has shown on game tape, and Colombo is aware that the young tackle is struggling immensely, and these problems need to be corrected.

One former player believes the New York Giants took a big risk with Thomas:

“Andrew Thomas was the most risky,” perennial Pro Bowl OL Joe Thomas told the New York Post. “With an offensive lineman’s eye, you look at him right away and say, ‘He has a lot of room to grow, and he needs a ton of work and reps.’ [Others] were basing it on accolades not game film, playing in the SEC and tons of starts. He checked a lot of the boxes that typically have not failed for offensive tackles, but then you watch the tape and clearly see biomechanically he doesn’t match up to those other guys.”

It is clear that Thomas didn’t pass the eye test for many former pros, but he represented fantastic upside, which is why the Giants took a stab at him. The problem is, taking a stab at the fourth overall pick is simply unacceptable.

“When I watched Andrew, I saw a guy with a lot of potential — great athlete, big, strong, fast, moves extremely well, all the things that get you to be a top-15 draft pick as an offensive tackle,” Joe said. “But he was the least natural from a technique standpoint. If you watch offensive linemen, when they get in a bad position — because they eventually will — can they recover? That was the big thing that concerned me with Andrew.”

Joe Thomas hits on a few of the reasons people were so high on the Georgia stand out. His athletic ability is premium and something to build around for solid coaches. He is far from being called a bust, and the Giants have time to continue developing him and working his way out of these weaknesses. However, Thomas’ inability to recover in pass blocking has been a crisis, and getting beat inside is a cardinal sin for lineman — something he has struggled with.

“He gets his shoulder pads way out over his toes a lot,” Joe Thomas said. “You see him bending at his waist. He’s got to learn to be an ankle- and a knee-bender, which takes time. He leaned on guys a lot. You could see the quickness in his feet, but he wasn’t natural in reacting to the defense. You get away with a lot of that playing in college when you are a bigger, stronger, more athletic version of the guy you are going against.”

It is clear that teams target Thomas on passing plays, exploiting his weaknesses that are showing up on film. This seems to be hurting his progression and forcing him back into old habits on a weekly basis.

Honestly, giving third-round pick Matt Peart a chance and sitting Thomas for a few weeks to develop his technique and give him some cushion might be a solid idea.

New York Giants staff plans to keep working with Andrew Thomas

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants don’t have a great recent history with taking tackles in the top 10, and current first round pick Andrew Thomas is worrying fans for one big reason – there’s a real chance that he turns out to be the second coming of Ereck Flowers.

Taking Flowers in the top 10 was one of the bigger Giants draft mistakes in recent memory, if not the biggest. He picked up a reputation for being a turnstile for opposing defenses, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that many Giants fans were left traumatized from watching Flowers block for Eli Manning. To make matters worse, other teams were able to get nominally more production out of Flowers after he left the team, making the coaching staff on the Giants look worse for failing to do the same.

So it’s not surprising that Andrew Thomas has worried fans plenty with his start to the season. At first, the struggles were pretty reasonable. The Giants faced some tough defenses, such as the Steelers in the opener. But Thomas hasn’t picked up the performances even when playing against lesser ranked defenses.

Still, the coaching staff is sticking with Thomas for now. Granted, they don’t have many options. The team is in a bad enough spot without the head coach trashing the top draft pick in the media.

Joe Judge stands by Andrew Thomas

When Joe Judge spoke about Thomas on Friday, he was positive about his future outlook.

“Andrew’s a good guy to build with. We have a lot of plans long-term with Andrew. He’s the kind of guy we want to work with, both physically and his personality off the field. We have a lot of confidence in Andrew. We’re going to keep working with him and developing him going forward. I fully expect Andrew to have a very productive, long career in this league. We enjoy him being a Giant,” Judge said.

It’s perhaps the ‘correct’ answer in this case. The one that avoids controversy. With that being said, answers like this are going to be harder to justify if Thomas doesn’t step his game up. After all, Giants fans are pretty familiar with Ereck Flowers. They know just what it looks like when a highly picked tackle pans out as a bust.

Giants’ Marc Colombo opens up about Andrew Thomas’ struggles

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The weakest link for the New York Giants has been their offensive line through five weeks, which has consistently struggled to maintain their continuity in run blocking and pass blocking.

Against the Dallas Cowboys in week five, left tackle Andrew Thomas and right tackle Cameron Fleming allowed 18 total pressures. Aldon Smith and Demarcus Lawrence had their way with the Giants‘ tackles, but that hasn’t been a surprise this year.

Thomas, who is selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, has been a liability on Daniel Jones’s blindside this year.

While Thomas actually had his best grade through five weeks against Dallas, according to PFF Elite (subscription needed), his pass-blocking grade was the worst it has ever been. Prior to the matchup, his worst grade was a 51.5 against the San Francisco 49ers in week three. Against the Cowboys, Thomas fell all the way to 31.7. However, he even out his scoring with a solid run-blocking grade of 73.6.

Through five weeks, he has allowed 4.0 sacks, three quarterback hits, 21 hurries, and 28 pressures. While he hasn’t given up a penalty, showing the discipline in that category, he has been below average in every other section.

While the rookie tackle has struggled, offensive line coach, Marc Colombo has provided some insight into his issues. He stated that Thomas has been “overshooting his target,” which is what we saw against Demarcus Lawrence on the fumble return for a touchdown in the first half.

Colombo stated further in regard to Andrew Thomas:

“Andrew’s capable of being a dominating left tackle in the NFL.” 
I tend to agree with Colombo that Thomas can be a dominant left tackle in the NFL. However, early on in his career, Thomas has shown regression, even from a collegiate standpoint.
His technical abilities are a mess, and he has minimal chemistry and linkage between his feet and hands. His base seems to be off frequently as his feet are too close together on speed rushes. Of course, a lot of his development depends on experience, which is what he is receiving this year. Considering the lack of a preseason, Thomas is well behind where he should be, and the quality pass rushers he’s been forced to face has presented a significant challenge.
All we are hoping for is gradual improvement, and Thomas has seen that in his run blocking. However, his pass blocking continues to stagnate, which is something that Colombo is undoubtedly focused on.

New York Giants need more from rookie OT Andrew Thomas

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants‘ offensive line has struggled as the team has fallen to 0-5 to start the 2020 NFL season. Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones has been under constant pressure behind the Giants’ “rebuilt” offensive line. New York invested plenty of assets into its offensive line in the 2020 NFL offseason, but so far, these investments have not exactly paid off.

The biggest investment that the Giants made into their offensive line came in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. With the fourth overall pick in the draft, the New York Giants selected left tackle Andrew Thomas. Through the first five weeks of his rookie season, Thomas has struggled immensely and has not lived up to his first-round expectations.

Andrew Thomas’s Struggles

Through the first five weeks of the 2020 NFL season, Andrew Thomas has looked like a disappointing draft pick. He has had some moments of solid play, but overall, Thomas has been disappointing.

According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Thomas allowed 9 pressures against the Cowboys in Week Five. Through five weeks, Thomas has been charged with four sacks, 28 pressures, and three hits allowed.

Why Andrew Thomas Should Fine

Andrew Thomas is young. He is a rookie. He is still learning how to play professional football. At only 21 years old, Andrew Thomas has plenty of time to grow. He was not drafted fourth overall to solve an instant need for the Giants. Thomas was drafted to be the team’s left tackle for, hopefully, a decade or more.

So while Andrew Thomas’s rookie season has gotten off to a really poor start, he has plenty of time to turn things around.

New York Giants: Rookie OT Andrew Thomas suffering from growing pains

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants made it a point of emphasis this offseason to rebuild their offensive line. The Giants drafted three offensive linemen, signed a new offensive tackle in free agency, and gave Nick Gates a contract extension. The biggest investment of all of these being the Giants’ first-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

With the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected left tackle Andrew Thomas. Andrew Thomas was an excellent offensive tackle prospect out of Georgia. He was the top offensive tackle on Pro Football Focus’s draft board, but most draft boards had varying rankings on the draft’s top four offensive tackles.

Four games into the fourth pick’s career, and Giants fans are beginning to feel underwhelmed. For the other teams that selected an offensive tackle in the first round (the Jets, Browns, Dolphins, and Buccaneers), their rookie tackles have all met or exceeded expectations. Andrew Thomas has been struggling with growing pains and failing to meet expectations through the first quarter of the 2020 NFL season.

Andrew Thomas Growing Pains

According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Thomas has allowed 3 sacks this season, tied for the most in the NFL amongst offensive tackles. His overall grade is also a 53.7, which is the worst of the top-four tackles from his draft class.

In yesterday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Thomas allowed four total pressures from 32 pass-blocking snaps, with one of them resulting in a sack (PFF). Head coach Joe Judge also recognized Andrew Thomas’s struggles:

“He’s been baptized by fire. … We’re not going to write him a pass for being a young guy or for being a rookie.” – Joe Judge on Andrew Thomas via Art Stapleton

Andrew Thomas truly has been baptized by fire, as Judge said. He has faced some serious competition to begin his career. Judge continued on, saying he has seen a lot of positives from Andrew Thomas as well.

All in all, it has been a somewhat disappointing start to Andrew Thomas’s career. But, this is a long season, and Thomas has another twelve weeks to turn it around. Additionally, a draft pick is not made to serve a one-year purpose. Andrew Thomas is destined to be the Giants’ left tackle for the next decade- he was a long-term investment. He has time to turn things around and prove he has the makings of a franchise left tackle.

New York Giants: Andrew Thomas speaks on the start of his NFL career

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants took a gamble by choosing Andrew Thomas. The team needed an offensive lineman, but Thomas wasn’t the highest rated out of the prospects available at the time. The move seemed to surprise many experts and broke some predictions. But the Thomas pick was generally well received, and we’ve now gotten a chance to see Thomas in action for a pair of games after the Giants’ week one and two performances.

Thomas spoke about this experience on Friday, going into the week three matchup with the 49ers.

Specifically, he gave some insight on the things he learned early on from two games played so far in the NFL.

“You have to be very specific in your technique every play. You can’t get lulled to sleep. You can’t revert to old habits. You have to make sure you have the same technique. The biggest thing for me is having different types of sets, different types of approaches to guys. If you do the same thing over and over, they will adjust to it. Being able to switch up your technique,” Thomas told reporters.

As it stands, the Giants are one of the worst teams in the league in keeping pressure off their quarterback. It was one of the big factors in the Steelers running over the team in their opener, and the close result against the Bears may have gone differently with a good offensive line. As for Thomas, there’s mixed reviews – but much of the problems are understandable given how little experience Thomas has overall.

And when Thomas has looked good, it’s been against quality competition so far.

“I knew all those guys are very talented,” Thomas said about the rushers he’s faced in the opening weeks of the season. “That’s the beauty of the NFL, it’s every week, you’re going against the best. Especially playing left tackle. Some of the best pass rushers in the world, so I have to be prepared every week. It was a great start going against some guys like that.”

Nick Bosa and Soloman Thomas are out for the year for the 49ers, it seems, which means Thomas catches something of a break against San Francisco. But that’s not to say the game will be easy. Thomas is still a rookie in the NFL, after all. And the 49ers in general are in a better spot than the Giants, having defeated the Jets at this very same stadium in their most recent game.

Improvement from Thomas, or not, though, the Giants certainly need a win in week 3. A victory there would go a long way in putting off fears of this season being just like the previous ones.