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 getting everything and more out of 2020 rookie class

New York Giants, Tae Crowder

The New York Giants are on a four-game winning streak. This is the longest winning streak the Giants have been on since 2016. New York is also in first place in the NFC East after beating a tough 8-3 Seahawks team on the road this Sunday. The Giants look poised to make a playoff run this season, proving their legitimacy while beating one of the best offenses in the NFL in Seattle.

One of the biggest difference-makers on the Giants this season has been their 2020 rookie class. New York has seen early returns on nearly every single rookie they drafted or signed this offseason. These rookies have been crucial to the Giants’ success in recent weeks.

Rookies on offense

On the offensive line, the Giants have been seeing their young, inexperienced players improve every single week. Andrew Thomas had the best performance of his young career so far this week against Seattle. For the second week in a row, Thomas did not allow a single pressure in pass protection. He also recorded the highest single-game Pro Football Focus grade of his career at 87.1 overall. Not only was this his highest-graded single game this year, but it was also the highest single-game grade among all first-round offensive tackle picks this season (PFF).

Right beside Andrew Thomas is Shane Lemieux, the Giants’ fifth-round pick from Oregon who has been starting at left guard for the past few weeks. The entire offensive line has played significantly better since Lemieux entered the lineup. Lemieux has had his fair share of ups and downs, but he has been very impressive when considering where he was drafted. Lemieux has also been improving week-by-week and looks like he will be with Big Blue for a long time.

In addition to the two rookies on the offensive line, Nick Gates has gotten better every week playing a brand new position. Initially, a guard, then a tackle, Nick Gates has transitioned to the center position and played at a high level in recent weeks after some great struggles early in the season. Gates is basically a rookie as he is learning and playing a brand new position this year. He has shown tremendous progress, though, and is already locked into a contract extension that should keep him as the Giants’ starting center for years to come.

Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Austin Mack also has a game this season as the Giants’ leading receiver. The Giants’ other rookie offensive tackle, Matt Peart (selected 99th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft), has not elevated to starting status yet. However, he has seen playing time while rotating in at both left and right tackle this season. He has been super impressive whenever he is on the field and could play his way into a starting role sooner than later.

Rookies on defense

The defensive side of the ball is where the Giants have really seen their rookies contribute this year. New York has been starting rookies at multiple defensive positions this year. Darnay Holmes, New York’s fourth-round selection out of UCLA, has started at slot cornerback all season long. Holmes has, like the rest, improved every single week. He certainly has not been a liability like the slot cornerback position has been for the Giants in the past. Holmes had his first career interception against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks this week. A promising future seems to be laid out for Darnay Holmes and the Giants’ defense.

The second half of the Giants’ 2020 NFL Draft class was filled with defensive selections. New York drafted the likes of Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, and Tae Crowder in the sixth and seventh rounds. Whether earned through merit or obtained through injuries, these rookies have all seen significant playing time in the Giants’ defense.

Tae Crowder, Mr. Irrelevant from the 2020 NFL Draft, has been starting on the Giants’ defense this year when healthy. Crowder has been so impressive for a player who nearly went undrafted. Crowder recorded a clutch sack against the Seahawks this week and recorded a game-winning scoop-and-score fumble recovery against Washington earlier this season. He has exceeded all expectations as a starting inside linebacker for the Giants this year.

Crowder was one pick away from going undrafted. When speaking of undrafted rookies, it is hard not to talk about Niko Lalos, the Giants’ undrafted gem out of Dartmouth. Lalos was elevated to the Giants’ active roster last week before their matchup with the Bengals. In his first NFL game, Lalos recorded an interception and earned more playing time this week. Of course, the Ivy League animal went ahead and recovered a fumble this week against Seattle. This undrafted rookie has been forcing turnovers left and right.

Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin were two under-the-radar linebackers that the Giants found late in the 2020 NFL Draft. Coughlin has seen increased playing time with EDGE Kyler Fackrell recently placed on injured reserve. Coughlin has played 79 defensive snaps this season, already totaling 6 combined tackles, 1 sack, 8 total pressures, and 6 hurries. Cam Brown has played 48 snaps, recording 5 pressures 3 hurries, and 8 combined tackles already.

Second-round pick Xavier McKinney has yet to see expanded playing time after returning from a fractured foot, but he is sure to be part of New York’s long-term defensive plans as well.

The Giants have seen early returns on nearly every rookie they drafted or signed this offseason. It was a job fantastically done by Dave Gettleman, Joe Judge, and company, acquiring young, talented players this offseason. The future is bright in the Big Apple.

New York Giants: Kyler Fackrell to IR, three players return from reserve list

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants have the odds stacked against them when they face Seattle on Sunday, to try to remain in first place in the NFC East. However, they’ll have three players back even as they lose one player to the injured reserve list after their last win.

The player that’s headed to the IR is outside linebacker and pass rusher Kyler Fackrell, who went out during the Bengals game with a calf injury. The more significant injury from that game was of course the one that took down QB Daniel Jones, but Jones didn’t need to be placed on the IR because it’s believed he could still return for the Seahawks game – and if Jones doesn’t come back then, his return should be shortly after.

It’s not all bad news for the Giants. The team does gain three players back after they were previously placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Those players are tight end Kaden Smith, offensive tackle Matt Peart, and receiver Dante Pettis.

The most significant of the players to come back may be Peart, who was in direct competition with top draft pick Andrew Thomas earlier in the season. Considering his status as a third round pick, Peart has been one of the overachievers for the Giants this season.

Kaden Smith, on the other hand, has seen less use this season compared to Evan Engram but offers further depth at the tight end position.

The latest round of roster moves also includes dropping punter Ryan Santoso, who was primarily signed to the team due to the temporary loss of Graham Gano.

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.

Will the latest New York Giants news stunt the offensive line’s growth?

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants have had one crazy bye week, to say the least. The Giants have made a major change on their coaching staff which also led to some serious drama and rumors surrounding the team and its head coach. The Gmen are also dealing with a small COVID-19 outbreak amongst their team, placing three more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list today.

Amongst those three players, one of them was a key offensive lineman. Rookie offensive tackle Matt Peart tested positive for COVID-19 and will go on the reserve/COVID-19 list, likely keeping him out of next Sunday’s game against the Bengals. The Giants have slowly but surely been working Peart into the lineup on Sundays. He has played a total of 107 snaps this season, rotating into both the left and right tackle positions, seeing limited playing time this regular season.

But Peart has been impressive in his small sample size. He seems to have a bright future ahead of him, as do many of the other young offensive linemen on the Giants’ roster. New York’s offensive line struggled greatly at the beginning of the season but has seemingly improved its play over the past couple of weeks.

But now, the team’s offensive line coach, Marc Colombo, has been fired, and there seem to be some reports indicating that the offensive linemen might not be pleased with this decision. On top of that, the Giants’ new offensive line coach, Dave DeGuglielmo, does not exactly have a reputation for being a likable guy. Maybe the Giants’ offensive line needs a change in coaching philosophy. But could this stark change lead to even more struggles up front?

The potential repercussions of this coaching change

According to reporter Michael Silver, there had been tensions surrounding Colombo and Joe Judge for weeks now. Art Stapleton confirmed this portion of Silver’s report, as both reporters mention a disagreement between Judge and Colombo regarding center Nick Gates’s technique.

Where Silver’s report differs from Stapleton’s and others’, though, is when he mentions the team’s reaction to this move. Silver reports that Judge’s personality has been “off-putting” to some and that Judge and his assistants that came with him from New England “have exuded an alarming aura of haughtiness.”

Art Stapleton responded to this portion of Silver’s report, saying it sounds “like sour grapes” and was “completely unrelated” to the Colombo firing.

Regardless, Silver makes a good point at the end of his report. Silver refers to this Colombo fiasco as an “open sore” and notes that the Giants’ offensive linemen are “unsure” what this sudden coaching change will mean. The linemen are wondering “whether they’ll have to relearn techniques on the fly” amongst other things, which is definitely a fair concern.

Could this whole situation lead to further struggles along the Giants’ offensive line? These young linemen have been coached one specific way since training camp began with Colombo as their coach in the summer. Since then, they have been practicing and learning Colombo’s way of offensive line play. Now, Dave DeGuglielmo will have to step in and try to correct the errors that Judge has seen from his offensive line in the 2020 season.

With so many of the Giants’ offensive linemen being young players, still learning the NFL game, it is fair to be concerned whether this sudden change will affect their growth and development. Losing Matt Peart to the reserve/COVID-19 list for the time being also does not improve the situation. Peart is a young, promising player that the Giants want to see more of, not less. Hopefully, he makes a quick and full recovery and can seamlessly rejoin the Giants as they welcome a new offensive line coach.

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.

Should the New York Giants start Matt Peart at left tackle in week 7?

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants enjoyed a scrappy win over the Washington Football Team in week 6, but it was their defense that rose to the occasion and secured the victory. While the offense only managed 13 points, as Daniel Jones threw a red zone interception and failed to convert on third downs consistently, Patrick Graham’s unit found a way to supplement their deficiencies.

Thanks to a Tae Crowder fumble recovery for a touchdown, Big Blue walked away happy for the first time this season. It was Joe Judge’s first win, but it didn’t come without some interesting moves before the game. Left tackle Andrew Thomas started on the bench, with Matt Peart, third-round pick out of the University of Connecticut, receiving the start.

There were a few noticeable differences between Thomas and Peart early on, specifically that Peart was far better in the run game.

Check out the clip below, where Peart stands tall and uses his leverage to seal the edge for Devonta Freeman, who picks up a nice chunk of yards. This is something that we hadn’t seen with Thomas through five weeks, as he allowed Montez Sweat, later on, to completely demolish him and stop Devonta on her third and short.

Ultimately, Thomas is walking on thin ice, as he currently hosts a 57 overall grade and posted a 31.7 pass-blocking grade in week five against Dallas. His run blocking has gradually improved, but it did not look good against Washington. His inconsistencies have put the Giants in a difficult position, as they are now likely contemplating moving him to right tackle and Peart to left tackle.

The New York Giants need to do what’s best for Daniel Jones:

Putting quarterback Daniel Jones under immediate pressure over and over again is simply not a recipe for success. Peart’s improvement at the position helped the Giants move the ball down field on multiple occasions. They have to stick with their guns and prioritize players who are showing more development. Thomas has clearly taken multiple steps back and has not experienced the progression we hoped when he was selected fourth overall in the draft.

That is a big concern, though, as benching your top-five draft pick from this past off-season for a third-rounder is simply unacceptable.

While Thomas has plenty of time to refine his abilities and continue growing in the NFL, this step backward is not a good look for general manager Dave Gettleman. Hopefully, they can find a place for him on the line, as right tackle seems to be more enticing with every passing week.

New York Giants: Rookie Offensive Tackles Cross Training In Practice

The New York Giants drafted two offensive tackles in the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. Big Blue selected Andrew Thomas out of Georgia with the fourth overall pick in the first round. They then followed that up with Matt Peart out of UConn in the third round.

Thomas is a polished prospect who will be prepared to start day one for the Giants. Peart, on the other hand, might need to take some time to develop. The ninety-ninth overall selection in the draft is not likely to be a week one starter on the Giants’ offensive line this season.

Andrew Thomas will be a week one starter, presumably. The question with Thomas now, is, where will he start on the offensive line? Will he be the team’s left tackle or right tackle?

Where Will Andrew Thomas Line Up?

After 2019’s starting offensive tackle Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season, it seemed likely that Andrew Thomas would step into the starting left tackle position. But there were some fans advocating for Thomas to play right tackle, instead, even before and after Solder opted out.

This line of thinking pencils Thomas in as the team’s left tackle for the foreseeable future, while planning to move ahead with Matt Peart as the team’s right tackle down the road. But after the Giants’ recent practices, this scenario does not seem set in stone.

While the likely scenario sees Thomas at left tackle and Peart at right tackle, there is another scenario where the two players swap positions. The Giants are preparing for this scenario, giving the offensive tackles practice reps on both sides of the line.

According to Ryan Dunleavy, Matt Peart was working at left tackle today:

Versatility on the offensive line is crucial. The Giants recognize this and are training their rookie tackles to be prepared to play on either side of the offensive line.

New York Giants’ Matt Peart might end up the steal of the draft

New York Giants, Matt Peart

If the New York Giants have done anything right this off-season, it is that they’ve brought in multiple players to compete for positions. Going into the preseason with cemented players can sometimes be a negative thing, especially oppositions with a void. When Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season, the offensive line got a little more interesting in terms of development and progression.

When the Giants drafted Matt Peart in the third round of the NFL draft, nobody expected him to be competing for a starting job right away. It was known that he needed a bit of refinement and more muscle mass to aid in his development.

However, this off-season, Peart put on 9-pounds of solid muscle mass. He physically looks more built and has the strength to hold his ground against NFL level pass rushers. Of course, there’s plenty of more work to be done in the fundamentals and technique categories, but having the size is undoubtedly part of the equation.

Peart has a long road ahead to crack the New York Giants’ starting team:

Peart will compete with Cameron Fleming, Andrew Thomas, and Nick Gates for a starting tackle spot, which puts him at the back of a long line.

Nonetheless, he finished in the 90th percentile of all tackles during the 2020 NFL combine. He had the longest reach at 36 5/8 inches and stands at 6-foot-6.

In his senior year in 2019, he allowed just two sacks, one quarterback hit, and four quarterback hurries over 415 pass-blocking snaps. He’s never missed a game due to injury and simply has elite athleticism, which promotes his upside in the NFL.

I believe the Giants will take a more monitored approach with Peart, who still needs time to gain his sea-legs in the NFL. Nonetheless, he has plenty of potential and giving him some starting reps later in the 2020 season might benefit him.

Specifically, the Giants have a game against the Cincinnati Bengals that would match up well for him and his first action. The first nine games of the season and more are littered with elite talent and pass rushers. Andrew Thomas will certainly have his hands full to start his young career. Nonetheless, Peart should be eased into action and given a more simple match up to test his development.