New York Giants name 2021 team captains ahead of Week One

New York Giants, Nick Gates

The New York Giants are days away from kicking off their regular season. The team has announced its new team captains for the 2021 season with kickoff only six days away. There are a few players returning as captains with a couple of new names also added to the mix.

New York Giants 2021 Captains

Offensive Captains:

  • Daniel Jones
  • Saquon Barkley
  • Nick Gates

Defensive Captains:

  • Blake Martinez
  • Logan Ryan

Special Teams Captains

  • Jabrill Peppers
  • Graham Gano

Offense

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is entering his second season as a captain of the team. This is his third career season, one that fans expect to be a big breakout year. He is a carryover captain, along with star running back Saquon Barkley. Saquon was named a captain in 2019 and has maintained that role ever since.

The new captain on offense is starting center Nick Gates. Entering his third season with the team, Gates has been named a captain. Nick Gates has proven to be the definition of a good teammate and a hard worker during his time in New York.

Defense

For the first time in his nine-year career, Logan Ryan is a captain. Ryan spent many years as one of the best players on the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots defenses but was never named a captain. The Giants signed Ryan late last offseason and he instantly proved himself as one of the team’s best leaders. The Giants have awarded Logan Ryan with a captain’s patch in his second year with the team.

Blake Martinez is a captain for the second consecutive season. Martinez was one of the Giants’ splash signings in last year’s free agency period. He quickly proved himself as one of the best players on the team and had a career year with the Giants last season.

Special teams

Graham Gano is another new captain on the Giants. Another player entering his second season with the team, Gano earned his captain’s patch after having a phenomenal 2020 season where he made 31 of his 32 field goal attempts.

Jabrill Peppers earned his captain’s patch for the second consecutive season. Peppers brings that energy every Sunday and leads the team’s defense and special teams. Peppers contributes primarily as the team’s starting safety, but also as a punt returner. The Giants are expecting a huge year out of Peppers in 2021.

New York Giants: Young offensive line has to step up, says Nick Gates

New York Giants, Nick Gates

It’s clear that the offensive line isn’t going to be the same as it was last season for the New York Giants. The team hasn’t had the chance to make the drastic changes that many would consider ideal, but there’s a better idea of what the line is going to look like this season and one specific defining factor setting it apart: youth.

The O-line grew younger last season with Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart winning starting roles at tackle, and both of those players will almost certainly retain their spots while bringing more experience into their second year.

Another player that made it into the starting lineup last season is Nick Gates, who went from starting 3 games to starting every game of the season at center. He’s a less flashy part of the offensive line’s youth movement compared to number four overall pick Thomas, but is notable for going from undrafted to starter in only a few seasons.

Based on his statements during training camp, it looks like Gates could also emerge as a leader within this group.

Nick Gates says young guys have to step up

Gates spoke about the recent retirement of two players on the offensive line, Zach Fulton and recently signed free agent Joe Looney, and believes the younger players will just have to respond to the departures by stepping it up.

“We’re a young group, but I think the young guys have got to step up and be leaders and just got to take care of each other and keep coming to work every day and working. Young guys have just got to step up, that’s all it is,” Gates told reporters on Friday.

“We’re doing good. We have a long way to go, and we have what, four more weeks of camp or something like that? Hopefully, we can get that right. I like our offense.”

The Giants are relying far more on youth at the current offensive line position than veterans. Between the Giants’ two second year tackles, Shane Lemieux at the guard position, and Nick Gates at center, it really looks like the team will succeed or fail at the position this year based on their younger players. With Lemieux also injured right now, much of that responsibility currently falls on others.

At the very least, all of last season’s rookies will be more adjusted to the league this season and Andrew Thomas won’t be playing with an injury. Those things may end up being some of the most important factors in the Giants improving in one of their worst position groups from 2020.

New York Giants get lesson in discipline under Joe Judge at training camp

new york giants, joe judge

We’ve all heard about the tough guy reputation of New York Giants head coach Joe Judge. It’s something that had produced varying reactions, ranging from respect from fans who think Judge has brought the team in line with a new direction to dismissal by some national media outlets who have called Judge a parody of himself.

That reputation flared up last season when the firing of offensive line coach Marc Colombo allegedly turned heated, and a recent on the field confrontation between Judge and Kelvin Benjamin may have reminded some of that reputation once again.

But, even if it’s controversial, there’s at least one thing that Judge’s no-nonsense style is definitely good with – building discipline. That’s manifested itself this training camp in the form of players running laps for various mistakes. And sometimes, depending on the mistake, the whole unit has to run the lap around the practice field.

We saw that happen in Monday’s practice when one player made a substitution error during a field goal block. As a result, the defense including the coaches was spotted running a lap around the field.

It’s not the only time that it happened. Former Dallas lineman Joe Looney ended up running two laps also, and expected starting center Nick Gates would end up running one quickly to avoid holding things up – the Giants aren’t the deepest team at center, and their other regular option was busy working with the second team on a different field.

All in all, the laps are a minor thing but it’s still nice to see a tangible example of the culture of hard work and improvement that many Giants players have spoken about since the arrival of Joe Judge.

After all, far from considering Judge a parody of himself, every statement from the players shows that the locker room has bought in – even when they have to run laps at practice because of this no-nonsense style.

New York Giants send multiple players to OL Masterminds summit

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The offensive line has been one of the biggest problem areas for the New York Giants in recent seasons. This year, the Giants will try again to get it right. That process will likely include an offseason position battle at the right tackle position, and it will also require a step forward from Andrew Thomas in his second season.

Another part of the process is offseason training, and the offensive line also seems to be on top of that. The Giants had several players in attendance at the OL Masterminds summit, on top of their usual training.

It’s the fourth edition of the summit, which has become an annual event and features some of the bigger names at the position sharing expertise. In recent years, events like this have become more common in the NFL. After the OL Masterminds summit proved the concept, a similar ‘Tight End University’ began this offseason and had multiple Giants attending.

The players from the Giants specifically that were in attendance were Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, and Andrew Thomas. Hernandez in particular likely has a lot to gain from the extra training, as the popular narrative about him falling out of favor with the arrival of the new coaching staff seems to be true.

Thomas, on the other hand, has a more secure position but has higher expectations as the much higher draft pick and the player the Giants are trusting at left tackle.

If there’s one thing this says, though, it’s that the team’s roster this season isn’t just waiting around to improve through training camp. We’ve seen multiple position groups take proactive steps like training on their own, and in a high pressure season like this one, that could make a big impact in the results that are to come.

Giants’ Nick Gates raves about young offensive line, says offseason is ‘huge’

New York Giants, Nick Gates

The New York Giants are heavily relying on their offensive line to take a significant step forward in 2021, otherwise, Daniel Jones could revert back to his pocket awareness issues, which are directly correlated to turning the football over and fumbles.

Last season, the Giants ranked as one of the worst OLs in the NFL, ranking 31st in pass blocking efficiency, according to PFF. Operating with new faces at multiple key positions, including left and right tackle, the Giants not only struggled to protect the edges, but they also had a rotational approach at right tackle and an offensive line coach that was fired midseason due to ineffectiveness.

Head coach Joe Judge didn’t take long to make a change, bringing in consultant Dave DeGuglielmo to help smooth over the transition after Marc Colombo. Not only did the unit have little in-person training to gather their feet and build chemistry, but they also had multiple coaches during the regular season, which undoubtedly affected their efficiency in the trenches.

This off-season, however, things are entirely different, as the COVID-19 vaccine provides the ability to practice in person without much risk. The players will have a full off-season, including the preseason, to gather the scheme and take to new OL Coach Rob Sale’s methods.

Starting center Nick Gates was adamant the off-season would be a tremendous bonus compared to last year, and he is quite confident they will have a more productive season in 2021.

“I think it’s huge, especially as young a team as we are right now I think it’s great for us to get in the building,” starting center Nick Gates said Friday via Zoom. “Quarterbacks throw the routes to the wide receivers for timing and the oline getting in here and working technique. Having a new oline coach this year and learning what he likes in different plays and his technique that he likes.”

The OL will look different this upcoming year, as the Giants let Cam Fleming go in free agency and are welcoming Nate Solder back after opting out of the 2020 season. Will Hernandez is expected to take over at RG after the departure of Kevin Zeitler, and Shane Lemieux will earn a crack as the starting LG.
Overall, I think it is fair to be optimistic with this group, despite several years of inadequacy. Having in-person training, a consistent coach, and a few playmakers to take pressure out of the defensive box should be essential factors in their success. For now, all we can do is hope they remain healthy and build upon their experience last year.

New York Giants: Nick Gates ready to breakout in second year starting at center

New York Giants, Nick Gates

The New York Giants are continuing to build and develop their young offensive line. The Giants’ offensive line was among the worst in the NFL in 2020.

The Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win-rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. So while the Giants did upgrade Daniel Jones’s weapons in free agency, fans feel like they still desperately need to fix the offensive line in front of him.

New York did not touch their offensive line much this offseason. However, there is some young talent that the Giants have on their roster already. Young players could develop into quality starters this season.

One of those young studs is center Nick Gates. 2020 was Gates’s first year playing the center position and he started all sixteen games for the Giants in the middle of the line. Despite having no experience at center before, Gates performed as arguably the Giants’ best offensive lineman last season. Entering 2021, Gates is looking to break out in his second year starting at center.

Nick Gates stats and highlights

Nick Gates was arguably the Giants’ most improved player in 2020. But he has room to grow in 2021 and could be their most improved player once again. Gates started out his career playing right tackle for the Giants in 2019. He then moved into guard later that season. Nick Gates impressed everyone who watched him play in 2019 as an unknown player that rose from the bottom of the roster.

With his impressive play in 2019, Nick Gates earned a starting job in 2020. The question was which position he would play. Would Gates move back to tackle, stay at guard, or try something new at center? Ultimately, Nick Gates made the switch to center, a wise decision by the Giants’ coaching staff.

There were growing pains, for sure, as Nick Gates got acclimated to his new position. According to Pro Football Focus, Nick Gates’s pass-blocking grade ranked 32nd out of 35 centers through the first six weeks of the season. He turned it around though, posting a 70.1 pass-block grade from Week 7 on, ranking eleventh in the NFL.

An argument could be made stating that Nick Gates was the Giants’ best offensive lineman in 2020. But the young hog molly has room to improve and should take a big step this season. After allowing 0 sacks on 1,013 snaps in 2020, there is reason for optimism behind the Giants’ starting center. Nick Gates is athletic and already a stout run-blocker. With some refinement in pass protection, Nick Gates could turn into an elite offensive lineman in 2021.

New York Giants could roll into 2021 with an unaltered offensive line

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants are preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft, which takes place in just two weeks. The Giants did a tremendous job this offseason addressing their needs in free agency. New York signed wide receiver Kenny Golladay and tight end Kyle Rudolph to give Daniel Jones the weapons he needed. They also took a risk and signed cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to a big deal to solidify their secondary.

There is one area on offense, though, that went mostly untouched through free agency. Many consider the Giants’ offensive line to be the biggest weakness on the team’s roster. But, looking ahead to the draft and regular season, it appears that the Giants might not feel the same way. It seems like the Giants are confident in their young offensive linemen and expect them to thrive in expanded roles this season.

What will the 2021 offensive line look like?

The tackles

General manager Dave Gettleman and the Giants are confident in what they have at right tackle. New York went offensive line in the first, third, and fifth rounds of the NFL Draft last year. In round three, the Giants selected offensive tackle, Matt Peart, out of UConn. The rookie tackle looked like a solid contributor in his rookie season when he saw the field, albeit in a limited number of snaps. But Gettleman gave his public show of support to Matt Peart, saying he is confident that Peart can start at right tackle this season.

Additionally, the Giants are getting Nate Solder back on a reworked deal after he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Solder could be a key addition to the lineup, whether he ends up playing right tackle or kicking out to swing tackle. Regardless, the Giants are comfortable with what they have on the right side of the line and are unlikely to reach on a tackle at any point in the draft.

Andrew Thomas was the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft for the Giants. He had his ups and downs in his rookie season, but Thomas flashed enough and looks like he will turn into a quality long-term starter to protect Daniel Jones’s blindside.

The interior

On the interior of the offensive line, the Giants have some major question marks. New York cut their best lineman, right guard Kevin Zeitler, as a cap casualty. Now they are left with some questionable starters.

Shane Lemieux started the final 8 games at right guard for the Giants last season. He showed some potential as a decent run blocker but struggled severely in pass protection. There is a lot to like about Lemieux’s game and demeanor, and the Giants seem to be very high on Lemieux, but New York needs him to take a huge step forward to feel comfortable with him as a starting guard in 2021.

Assuming Lemieux continues as the starter at left guard, who will be the new man at right guard? The Giants potentially have that guy on their roster already. Through the first eight games of the 2020 season, Will Hernandez started at left guard, as he had the past two years as well. But Hernandez struggled a lot in the first half of the season and ultimately lost his starting position.

Could the Giants plug Hernandez back in the starting lineup this season? It is very possible that they go that route. Hernandez is a former second-round pick that showed a lot of promise as a rookie. But the Giants could potentially address the interior of their offensive line in the second round of the NFL Draft.

One position on the interior where continuity is expected is at center. Nick Gates impressed the fan base and the coaching staff in 2020. Last season was Gates’s first year playing center. Gates showed a lot of growth as the season went on and looks to be a quality starter going forward.

Why fans think the line is in need of an upgrade

The Giants seem pretty confident in this young group of guys that it has on the offensive line. But fans are skeptical. The Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win-rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. So while the Giants did upgrade Daniel Jones’s weapons in free agency, fans feel like they still desperately need to fix the offensive line in front of him. It will be intriguing to see whether or not the Giants address the offensive line in the 2021 NFL Draft at the end of this month.

The New York Giants should target offensive linemen early in the 2021 NFL Draft

new york giants, wyatt davis

The New York Giants are on a mission to rebuild and revamp their offense this offseason. New York’s offense was terrible in 2020. The Giants averaged only 17.5 points per game this past season, an average that cannot translate to a winning season in today’s NFL.

Dave Gettleman and company have vowed to add playmakers to the Giants’ offense. But in addition to New York’s lack of playmakers, they also had a lack of pass protection. The Giants’ offensive line was nearly incompetent in pass protection last season.

The Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win-rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. So while the Giants prioritize upgrading Daniel Jones’s weapons, they, maybe more than anything, need to fix the offensive line in front of him.

Daniel Jones was a much-improved quarterback in his second season. But if the Giants want to see Jones take that next step and have that year-three breakout, they need to fix the offensive line. Daniel Jones had a Pro Football Focus 91.5 passing grade when kept clean in 2020. That is an elite grade. When under pressure, though, Jones’s grade was 46.9.

Unfortunately, Daniel was under pressure more often than not. The Giants should make it a top priority to find competent offensive linemen and keep Jones clean in 2021. As we inch closer to the NFL Draft in April, there are a number of offensive lineman prospects that the Giants should target within the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.

NFL Draft offensive line targets

The 2021 NFL Draft class is filled with offensive line talent. This is one of the best offensive line classes in recent years. At the top of the class is a premier offensive tackle talent in Penei Sewell out of Oregon. Penei is an elite prospect who is unlikely to fall to eleven, but the Giants should pray that he is there for the taking.

With New York seemingly destined to go wide receiver in round one, it is in the second and third rounds that they should focus on the offensive line. Prospects like Wyatt Davis and Creed Humphrey stand out on the interior. Jackson Carman and Walker Little could be options in those rounds as well.

Of course, the Giants already have young, promising players on their offensive line that need to develop. Nick Gates flashed great potential in his first season starting at center in 2020. Rookie Matt Peart also looked good in limited playing time at right tackle. But general manager Dave Gettleman has said before that he is not afraid to draft over players. So if one of these offensive linemen, like center Creed Humphrey, is the best player on the board when the Giants are on the clock, they are realistic options.

Regardless, the offensive line is not a positional group that the Giants can wait on. They need to address it and fix it immediately. Taking chances on late-round prospects rarely works out on the offensive line. If Gettleman and the Giants are serious about amending the offensive line, they need to target prospects within the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft.

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.