New York Giants should see further offensive line improvements in 2021

New York Giants, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants‘ offensive line was inconsistent in 2020. The Giants have had struggles across their offensive line for years now. It is a problem the Giants seemingly cannot fix. However, they are slowly working towards improving the offensive line, investing plenty of assets into the unit over the past two years.

The Giants traded for Kevin Zeitler in 2019 and signed Nate Solder to a huge contract in the 2018 free agency period. These are the two moves New York has made to acquire veteran talent on the offensive line. In 2020, though, the Giants shifted towards a more youthful approach on the offensive line.

New York spent the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on left tackle Andrew Thomas. They then doubled down at the position in the third round, selecting offensive tackle Matt Peart with pick number ninety-nine. But the Giants were not done there. They also spent a fifth-round pick on offensive guard Shane Lemieux in 2020.

These rookies saw plenty of playing time in the 2020 regular season. However, their performance was not always consistently good. However, there are reasons to believe that the Giants’ offensive line will improve further in 2021.

Continuity is key

The New York Giants’ offensive line severely lacked continuity and experience in 2020. Along with the rookies that saw extensive playing time, the Giants started second-year lineman Nick Gates at center, a position he had never played before. Gates was practically a rookie as well.

Taking that into consideration, the Giants had experienced players at only two of the five offensive line positions last season. Right guard Kevin Zeitler is an excellent, veteran player. Right tackle Cam Fleming is also an experienced veteran. However, the rest of the line was comprised of rookies and inexperienced players for the majority of the season.

The Giants also had no continuity along their offensive line. In terms of calling protections and passing off stunts, continuity and chemistry is crucial. No one on the Giants’ offensive line in 2020 lined up next to a teammate that they lined up next to in 2019.

Kevin Zeitler was placed between a brand new center and a brand new right tackle. The absence of Nate Solder left rookie Andrew Thomas as the Giants’ starting left tackle, sandwiching the left guard position between two newly acquired players.

The 2021 season will see the Giants’ offensive line play with far more chemistry and continuity than they did in 2020. There is not likely to be much overturn at all along New York’s offensive line. There could be a change made at the right tackle position, but the other four positions will likely be manned by the same players from last season. Additionally, the Giants made a change at the offensive line coach position midseason in 2020. Hopefully, in 2021, New York’s front line can enjoy the coaching of a singular coach. This second-year together could allow the Giants’ offensive line to grow and develop into a more continuous and consistent unit.

New York Giants rookie offensive tackle Andrew Thomas makes PFF Team of the Week

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants just earned a clutch win over the Seahawks in Seattle to improve their winning streak to four games. The Giants had a phenomenal outing defensively, holding Seattle to only 12 total points in the contest. But on the other side of the ball, the Giants’ offense got going on the ground while struggling to gain yardage through the air with backup quarterback Colt McCoy.

Despite the Giants’ struggles to pass the ball, gaining only 105 passing yards, the offensive line did an excellent job keeping their backup quarterback upright. McCoy was sacked only twice, losing a total of only five yards. McCoy was rarely under pressure, especially from his blindside as rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas had a stellar performance on sunday.

The key to the Giants’ offensive success son Sunday was the offensive line. New York’s lead blockers helped the Giants gain a total of 190 rushing yards. The Giants found great success running behind Andrew Thomas and the left side of the offensive line. Wayne Gallman had 10 rushing attempts to the left side, gaining 102 rushing yards on runs to the left.

Andrew Thomas had such an excellent performance this week that he was honored with a spot on Pro Football Focus’s Week 13 Team of the Week.

Andrew Thomas in Week 13

According to Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus, “Thomas has looked like a completely different player the past few weeks,” which has been “huge for the Giants.” Thomas was selected as the Week 13 PFF Team of the Week left tackle after an incredible performance against Washington.

Andrew Thomas put together 86.7 pass-block and 84.3 run-block grades against Seattle, earning him a spot on Pro Football Focus’s Week 13 Team of the Week. Thomas’s 87.1 overall grade is the highest single-game grade among the first-round offensive tackle picks this season.

Thomas has not allowed any quarterback pressures in the last two weeks. He has been excellent for the Giants in both pass protection and run-blocking in recent weeks. The Giants are finally seeing their fourth-overall pick from the 2020 NFL Draft perform like a top offensive tackle talent and their offense is thriving because of him.

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: What Will The Starting Offensive Line Look Like In 2020?

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants have had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL over the past few years. The team has struggled to find consistent offensive tackle play since investing a top-ten pick in Ereck Flowers in 2015. From Flowers to Solder, the Giants have been disappointed by their recent expensive offensive line investments.

New York is hoping that that trend of disappointing offensive line investments ends after this season. This offseason, the Giants invested heavily in their offensive line, drafting three linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Giants also signed an offensive tackle in free agency and significantly upgraded their offensive line coach.

Giants fans are hopeful about their offensive line for the first time in a while. Andrew Thomas was drafted fourth overall, signaling a cultural shift by the Giants towards a more traditional team-building philosophy. The Giants are prioritizing the offensive line and finally, for the first time in years, have depth in the positional group.

Projecting the 2020 Offensive Line

 

  • LT – Andrew Thomas
  • LG – Will Hernandez
  • C – Nick Gates
  • RG – Kevin Zeitler
  • RT – Nate Solder
  • Depth – Spencer Pulley, Shane Lemieux, Cameron Fleming, and Matt Peart
  • OL Coach – Marc Colombo

The Starting Five

The Giants drafted Andrew Thomas to be the team’s left tackle of the future. Some have suggested that Thomas should start his career at right tackle, but in my opinion, Thomas should start at left tackle right away.

Nate Solder allowed 11 sacks in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus, the third most out of any offensive tackle in the NFL. To make matters even worse, Solder allowed 57 pressures in 2019. This was the most of any offensive lineman in the NFL. Andrew Thomas played 1,075 pass-block snaps in his collegiate career. On those snaps, Thomas allowed only 37 total pressures. He also has not allowed more than 2 pressures in a game since 2017 (his freshman season at right tackle). It is highly possible that Andrew Thomas is the best left tackle on the Giants’ roster despite never playing a snap in the NFL.

Will Hernandez is entering his third NFL season after taking a small step back in 2019. Big Will looked promising as a rookie but struggled to develop as a sophomore. This could have been for a couple of reasons: Hernandez was playing between two bad players, and the Giants’ coaching staff was one of the league’s worst. Luckily for Hernandez, both of these problems seem to have been fixed. This could be his breakout season.

The center position is by far the biggest question mark on the Giants’ roster in 2020. There will be a positional battle at center during training camp and preseason. In my opinion, Nick Gates is the top candidate for the position. Gates finished the 2019 season with a 77.0 overall grade and only 1 sack allowed in 290 snaps (Pro Football Focus). However, Spencer Pulley could win the job based on seniority and past experience. Gates has never played center before but has been impressive in limited snaps at offensive guard and offensive tackle.

Despite never making the Pro Bowl in his career, Kevin Zeitler has been one of the best pass-blocking offensive guards in the NFL. Also according to Pro Football Focus, Zeitler finished with the sixth-best grade among guards and posted a strong 75.0 pass-blocking grade — the sixth-straight year he’s achieved that mark. Zeitler is a lock for the Giants’ right guard position and should get a contract extension after his contract expires next offseason.

Solid Depth

Nate Solder is likely to move over to right tackle, but if that does not go well, the Giants have solid depth pieces behind him. New York signed Cam Fleming this offseason to be a swing tackle or backup offensive tackle. They also drafted Matt Peart out of UConn in the third round. Peart is not likely to be ready for NFL action in his first season, but he has a lot of potential down the road as a starting offensive tackle.

An Improved Coaching Staff

The hiring of Marc Colombo was huge for the Giants. Colombo has helped maintain the Dallas Cowboy’s offensive line’s status as one of the best in the NFL. Cowboys players have stated that Colombo’s relatability in his youth helped the offensive line grow and gravitate towards its coach.

“I’ve had the pleasure of being around a lot of people in this game. But Marc is in the front of the class. That’s the ultimate compliment I can give him. You get inspired by Marc every day you’re around him.” – Jason Garrett on Mar Colombo via ESPN

 

New York Giants: 2 most underrated players on the roster

New York Giants, Cameron Fleming, Dalvin Tomlinson

The New York Giants have plenty of talent to utilize in 2020 and beyond. Drafting offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and safety Xavier McKinney upgrades two essential positions on both sides of the ball.

With the establishment of new head coach Joe Judge and an overhauled coaching staff in place, the team should look vastly different this year. The offensive scheme, led by Jason Garrett, should include heavy 12 personnel sets and running the football. The defense will also be different, with a focus on man coverage and blitzing on third down.

I expect the Giants to be an aggressive football team, putting their pedal to the metal. Judge is committed to playing smash-mouth football for all four quarters. However, relying on their unsung heroes will be important moving forward. The offensive line remains unpredictable, but they have established depth, which brews confidence in the unit.

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Here are two New York Giants players who are vastly underrated:

1.) Dalvin Tomlinson

Tomlinson is an extremely effective player for Big Blue. The former Alabama stand-out is 26-year-old entering the final year of his rookie deal with the Giants. He has yet to miss an NFL game and had his best season in 2019.

After the Giants traded for Leonard Williams, Tomlinson’s stats exploded. He racked up 3.5 sacks, 49 combined tackles, seven tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits. He set career highs in sacks, tackles for a loss, and quarterback hits.

His aggression and ability in the run game are essential for success on defense. Pairing him with Dexter Lawrence and Williams should give the Giants a stellar interior presence. In addition, he is a fantastic tackler, missing just 5.8% of his tackles in 2019.

The ability to depend on him to help solidify the trenches and push the pocket is why he is so undervalued. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will scheme a pass rush, which will rely on the defensive tackles to collapse the pocket and open up pass rush lanes for linebackers and safeties.

Tomlinson has fantastic hand strength, giving him the ability to overpower centers and guards. He is especially effective lining up in the 0-technique, as he contains the size and strength to dominate. Starting in the three-technique, Tomlinson is great at drawing double teams and holding his ground between the guard and tackle. This gives an advantage to the Giants outside linebackers in 1v1 situations.

With just one year left on his deal, the Giants would be silly not to extend him. As a second-round pick, they don’t have the ability to pick up his fifth-year option, which requires them to offer a multi-year deal to keep him in blue for the foreseeable future.

The New York Giants’ offensive line is deeper than ever before

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, Mike Remmers

The priority this off-season for the New York Giants was to finally solve the complicated puzzle that has been the offensive line. Protecting Daniel Jones and opening running lanes for Saquon Barkley is essential for the offense to succeed and play at an elevated level. General manager Dave Gettleman finally invested in the protection of his two most influential draft picks. Ensuring Barkley and Jones have everything they need to succeed should and is the focus for the Giants.

In 2019, Jones endured poor offensive line play which resulted in him being sacked 38 times. Lowering that number and allowing him more time in the pocket is essential for his future production, and taking a step forward in 2020 is the ultimate goal. His statistical output last season was quite good for a rookie who wasn’t expected to play at all with Eli Manning starting week one. Manning was quickly moved to the bench in favor of Jones, who emerged victorious the next two games but failed to string together a winning season.

The 2019 line consisted of:

LT: Nate Solder

LG: Will Hernandez

C: Jon Halapio

RG: Kevin Zeitler

RT: Mike Remmers

This unit ranked as one of the worst in the league, with Solder giving up 11 sacks, ranking second-worst in the category.

Overhauling this section was a requirement this off-season, and the Giants spent the fourth overall pick on Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas. This move subsequently moves Solder over to the right side, where he will compete with Nick Gates and Cam Fleming for the starting position. Paying nearly $20 million for a fringe starter is problematic, but his dead-cap lowers to $6.5 million in 2021, indicating he will likely be let go.

However, adding Thomas alone does not attest to the overhauling of the unit, which is why the New York Giants spent more draft picks to ensure depth at essential positions. In the third round, Big Blue selected Matt Peart out of UConn, who has fantastic tangible skills and the potential to emerge as a starter in the future. In the fifth round, they drafted Oregon guard Shane Lemieux, who has the upside to play center as well. Developing him over the next few months will hopefully see him adapt to different positions and give the Giants another quality guard to work with.

“Versatility is the biggest factor in this game,” Lemieux said, per the NY Post. “Coaches want to be able to put you in multiple spots. I have really good mentors that told me that at training camp, no matter where you are, they are going to throw you in, and you have to be ready. I just want to be prepared before that happened.”

Last season, the Giants only had Nick Gates as their preferred depth piece, but with the added draft capital to the position and signing free agent Cam Fleming, they have plenty of players to work with and move around in case of injury. Hopefully, this will allow them to solidify the offensive front and protect Daniel Jones adequately.

New York Giants’ New Offensive Lineman Has High Praise For OL Coach Colombo

New York Giants, Marc Colombo

The New York Giants did not prioritize the offensive line in free agency, but they did sign one offensive tackle. The Giants signed Cameron Fleming, a six-year NFL veteran who will compete for the starting right tackle job. Fleming spent the first four seasons of his career with New England before playing in Dallas over the last two years.

Being a former Cowboy and Patriot, Fleming has connections to the New York Giants’ new coaching staff. New head coach Joe Judge worked with the Patriots from 2012 to 2019. The Giants’ new offensive coordinator is former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett who worked as their head coach from 2011 to 2019. Garrett also brought over his offensive line coach from Dallas, Marc Colombo.

Marc Colombo and Cameron Fleming’s Connection:

The offensive line coaching job was a vital piece of the puzzle this offseason for the Giants. Fans were excited to find out that Marc Colombo, the man who helped coach the Cowboys’ top-tier offensive line from 2016 to 2019, would be joining Garrett in New Jersey.

Offensive line coach Marc Colombo and newly-signed offensive tackle Cameron Fleming worked together from 2018 to 2019 and will continue working together in 2020 with the Giants. In his first interview as a member of the New York Giants, Cameron Fleming had high praise for Marc Colombo:

I really like playing for [Marc Colombo] because he really does love what he does. He comes in with so much energy, so much juice every single day, week after week throughout the whole season. I don’t think there is ever a lull in it for him. I really appreciate his passion and electricity every day. He’s just a damn good coach. He helped me a lot with my technique in Dallas, and I look forward to continuing working with him. – Cameron Fleming discussing offensive line coach Marc Colombo

Seeing the Giants’ new coaching staff energized and attentive will be refreshing for Giants fans. Marc Colombo is here to restore the “passion and electricity” that the team lacked with the last regime. Marc Colombo, Jason Garrett, Joe Judge, and Cameron Fleming will all collaborate to improve the Giants’ offensive line in 2020.

New York Giants: What role will new offensive lineman Cam Fleming play in 2020?

New York Giants, Cameron Fleming

The New York Giants allocated most of their cap-space toward bolstering the defensive unit this offseason, but the offense did receive a bit of help, specifically with depth players.

Offensive lineman Cam Fleming was one of the Giants’ signings, having played with New England and the Dallas Cowboys in past years. He’s familiar with both Joe Judge and Marc Colombo, who was formerly Dallas’ OL coach.

According to Giants.com:

Fleming, 27, has played in 75 regular-season games with 26 starts and in 11 postseason games with two starts, including Super Bowl LII. The Patriots’ starting tackles in that loss to Philadelphia were Nate Solder and Fleming, who are again teammates on the Giants.

The Giants have lacked a true swing tackle to supplement injuries in the past, and Fleming can fill that role along with competing for the starting right tackle spot along with Nick Gates.

Gates, who played a bit at right tackle in 2019, has the ability to be a serviceable player on Daniel Jones’ vision-side, however, relying on him to be an everyday starter might be optimistic. Gates has audibly stated that he prefers to play guard instead of tackle, given his skill-set and comfort from experience.

One underrated aspect attributed to Fleming is his immense experience on successful teams. He has been a part of three Super Bowl teams and knows what a winning team looks like on the field and behind the curtains. In fact, a majority of the Giants’ free-agent signings have playoff experience and understand the expectations and requirements necessary.

What should the New York Giants expect from Fleming?

I wouldn’t bet all of my chips on Fleming becoming a starter, but creating competition at the empty tackle spot is an ideal scenario given the Giants don’t spend a draft pick on a new starter. Jedrick Wills, who’s the highest-graded tackle in the draft, could be a possibility for Big Blue, but he’s strictly a right tackle, which might not fit the bill for GM Dave Gettleman.

New York Giants daily roundup: Signed safety, offensive tackle, draft plans

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants made a splash in free agency early on this offseason, spending a majority of their available cap in the first day of legal tampering. They gained several quality players, but it seems like GM Dave Gettleman and HC Joe Judge took a different approach to their signings this year.

Judge seems to have affected the way the Giants go about things, as they signed a number of tier-2/3 players with front-loaded contracts to ensure they can get out of them after two seasons. Their biggest free-agent signings, James Bradberry and Blake Martinez, are both on three-year deals with heavy dead-cap hits early on. What does this mean? It means the Giants brass don’t consider their team a winning one just yet.

Having made no big splashes in free agency on players like Byron Jones and Jadeveon Clowney, either they don’t believe it’s necessary to spend big money on single players during a rebuild, or they have adopted a different model, similar to New England.

However, recent moves might have changed their draft plans: Signing Fleming ‘could’ indicate that a position battle between the former Cowboy and Nick Gates could ensue. This would open up the ability for the Giants to land a player like Isaiah Simmons in the draft and land a tackle in the second round (develop for a year since both Fleming and Gates are on one-year deals).

New York Giants have made a series of smaller moves:

On Wednesday night, Big Blue signed Dallas Cowboys’ offensive tackle, Cameron Fleming, who serves as a swing option, starting 26 games throughout the course of his career. Fleming also spent time in New England when Joe Judge featured as the special team’s coach. Factor in his connection with Jason Garrett and Marc Colombo and you can justify this signing. The deal is one-year for up to $4 million.

The Giants also landed special teams ace, Nate Ebner, who is also a safety by trade. Judge is very familiar with Ebner and his abilities, having coached him the past several seasons. It’s seeming like the Giants might elect to let Michael Thomas go and make a change with their personnel. Thomas is also a great special teams player and would be deserving of another contract.

New York Giants sign offensive tackle Cam Fleming – everything you need to know

New York Giants, Cam Fleming

Another familiar face for the coaching staff, the New York Giants signed offensive tackle Cam Fleming to a one-year deal worth up to $4 million, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

Fleming, at 6-5, 320 pounds, is going into his seventh season in the NFL and has played the past two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He played under both Jason Garrett and Marc Colombo after spending his first four seasons in New England with Joe Judge.

his familiarity with the coaching staff makes him a solid add, and being that it’s only a one-year deal, the Giants can move on in a different direction next season if they so choose.

This move indicates that the Giants might not be looking to draft an offensive tackle in the 2020 NFL Draft, as standout defender Isaiah Simmons will likely be available with the 4th overall pick.