Even after a win against Philadelphia, it’s clear that the New York Giants need to rebuild most of the offensive line. In fact, it’s clear that the Giants could have won the game by a much safer margin if they had even an average o-line. It’s a problem that has often influenced the outcome on crucial plays this season. When the Giants had a chance to close Sunday’s game out without giving the ball back, it was the play up front that had a role in their inability to do so.
The current state of affairs makes it even stranger that the Giants are continuing to include Nate Solder in the starting lineup over rival Matt Peart. Solder played one hundred percent of the offensive snaps against the Eagles, and hasn’t gone anywhere now that Andrew Thomas is healthy.
Solder’s play with the Giants has been underwhelming from the beginning, but his performance this season has drawn even more attention and even brought names such as Lawrence Tynes to comment on Solder’s continued playing time.
Still, if the team isn’t playing Peart over Solder, it’s hard to imagine there’s no reason for it. Even the Giants, whose coaching quality has been dubious this season, have coaches that want to win and protect their own jobs.
From that perspective, we’re left with one question: what makes the coaching staff believe Nate Solder gives the best chance at winning?
Why Nate Solder may remain in the lineup
The calls for Peart to play instead of Solder are understandable, but it’s still worth looking at both sides of the issue to understand why the Giants are making the decisions that they have.
At the heart of it, Joe Judge and the others on the coaching staff must see something in Solder that they don’t see in Peart. Based on Solder’s overall play in recent games, it’s safe to say that thing probably isn’t physical. Solder looks like he’s been in the league a bit too long, and that’s more apparent than ever in recent outings where Solder frequently let his man past him, reacted late, or ended up out of position.
That leaves us with other factors to consider. One of the few advantages Solder has on younger players is more veteran experience, and that may have something to do with the team’s decision making.
Blocking in the NFL is not just a physical game, but also a tactical one. Scheme matters a lot, and older players often have an advantage in sticking to and executing a scheme compared to more experienced ones.
The Giants have also had an unstable offensive line this season due to injuries. The current starting lineup isn’t one the Giants were prepared to field based on the outlook on paper going into the year, and the staff may want Solder on the field as a stabilizing presence who may be able to aid the rest of the line in staying with the scheme.
Should the Giants start Matt Peart going forward?
Even if Solder is a veteran presence, any benefits gained from that have a diminishing return thanks to his poor blocking.
The experiment of playing Solder this season has run its course and, at this point, it’s clear the Giants aren’t going to gain anything from continuing to play him. Even if the staff believes there’s justifications for starting him over Peart before, that should change for the rest of the season.
The fact of the matter is that Solder is already playing like a replacement level player and there’s little room to fall by giving Peart a chance. Despite technically being in the running, it’s highly unlikely that the Giants are actually going to the playoffs this year. Rather than making conservative decisions, it would be better for the team’s long-term prospects to use the rest of this season for evaluation and experimentation.
Peart may have something to offer for the future, or he may not. At this point, it’s unclear. The Giants should use the rest of this season to get a clear answer, headed into an offseason where a rebuild of the offensive line will be a major point of interest.