New York Giants: Offensive line showing no signs of improvement in 2020

The New York Giants have had issues across their offensive line for years now. Entering the 2020 NFL season, the expectations were set higher for the Giants’ front line. New York invested heavily in their offensive line and upgraded the positional unit’s coach. But so far, these improvements have not shown up on the field.

The Giants have gone up against two of the NFL’s best front-sevens in the first two weeks of the season. New York’s new offensive line has been given two extremely tough tasks to kickoff 2020. But the Giants’ “new & improved” line has not handled these tasks well at all.

A Disappointing First Two Weeks

The New York Giants’ offensive line has surrendered an insane amount of pressure in 2020. Through two games, the Giants have allowed 56 pressures, the second-highest total in the NFL (according to Pro Football Focus). According to Football Outsiders, New York has also let up 7 sacks in two games, the second-highest total in the NFL.

Though Andrew Thomas has held his own against two of the best defenses in the NFL, he has still struggled through the first two weeks of the season. He is currently the lowest-graded of the top four offensive tackles from the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft class.

But the rest of the offensive line has struggled along with Thomas. If the Giants’ offensive line is going to make a turnaround, Week Three is the time to do it.

A Week Three Turnaround?

Originally, the Giants were scheduled to go against another dominant defense in Week Three of the 2020 NFL season. This week, the Giants will host the San Fransisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium. Andrew Thomas and the Giants’ line was projected to face off against the likes of Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, and Dee Ford. In reality, the Giants will face none of these talented defenders.

The 49ers were hit with the injury bug in a major way last week. Across the NFL, injuries were abundant. The Giants lost 2018 second-overall pick, Saquon Barkley, to a torn ACL in Week Two. The 49ers lost their 2019 second-overall pick, Nick Bosa, to a torn ACL as well in Week Two.

Solomon Thomas is another talented player on the 49ers’ defensive line. He also suffered a season-ending injury in Week Two. Dee Ford is also injured and out for Week Two, but fortunately, he will not be sidelined for the entire season.

The Giants will not have to face any of the 49ers’ top three defensive linemen in Week Two. San Fransisco signed veteran defensive end Ezekiel Ansah to help fill one of these holes. But overall, the Giants’ offensive line is fortunately not going to be completely overmatched like they have been the last two weeks.

Struggling against the Steelers’ and Bears’ front-sevens is understandable. But against this depleted and injury-riddled San Fransisco defense, the Giants should be able to turn things around. New York’s offensive line will be left with no excuses in Week Three. They need to step up and play a solid match against the 49ers to turn things around.

New York Jets: Mekhi Becton already earning rave reviews as practice opens

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

New York Jets training camp has only just begun, but first-round pick Mekhi Becton is already making a strong impression.

As the New York Jets opened training camp this week, Connor Hughes, who covers the team for The Athletic, humorously suggested that one could play a drinking game for every time someone mentions that Mekhi Becton is big.

With all due respect to Hughes, don’t do that…it won’t end well.

The Louisville alum, the Jets’ first-round selection in April’s draft (11th overall) has joined new Jets teammates in training camp activities in Florham Park this week. Standing at 6 feet 7 inches and weighing 364 pounds, Becton barely needs pads to suggest an imposing prescience. But once he donned his new green gear, he backed up his fierce reputation in style as early reports from NYJets.com indicate that Becton has made a strong first impression in his days in a new helmet.

“He made himself known out there and what he’s capable of doing,” linebacker Blake Cashman said in a report from Ethan Greenberg. “He’s a great player. He’s going to be somebody that’s going to play a long time in this league and has more potential to grow.”

“Every day I just have to watch him and watch film of not just him but everybody,” running back Frank Gore added. “The first day, he was talking to me out there and saying, ‘I’m going to get you four yards’ and I like that. He can move.”

Another report from Hughes, this one more serious in nature, mentioned that Becton perhaps earned the play of the day by knocking down blitzing backfield invader Neville Hewitt during team drills. Becton’s ability to use his renowned size

“He applies it to the field,” Gase noted in Greenberg’s report. “It’s difficult for guys to figure out how to rush him in the pass game and then in the run game it’s hard to hard to move them back, you don’t see much penetration, that line flattens out pretty fast.”

Becton may not be showing up in the Jets’ box score except under unusual circumstances, but he has the potential to be the 2020 offense’s most valuable member. The first blocker the Jets have chosen in the opening round since D’Brickashaw Ferguson in 2006, Becton is expected to take the jobs of Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell easier as they seek to change the fortunes of a stagnant offense. On average, Jets quarterbacks were sacked 3.2 times per game last season, tied for 28th in the league.

In a league dominated by offensive heroics, a stagnant offense is a big problem and leaves a massive hole in the Jets’ future. But if anyone’s going to fill it, there’s likely no better place to turn than the 6 foot, 7 inch, 364-pound blocker from Highland Spring, Virginia.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Adam Gase sounds reinvigorated and ready to change the narrative in 2020

New York Jets, Adam Gase

New York Jets‘ head coach Adam Gase has had a rough offseason. After finishing the season 6-2, the Jets went into the offseason with high hopes for the future. With Sam Darnold getting another year playing in Gase’s system, the return of two defensive leaders in C.J. Mosley and Avery Willamson, and the entire coaching staff returning, continuity was a big theme.

That continuity took a big hit when Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, two of Darnold’s best weapons, ended up leaving (for two different reasons) New York. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

Then, Jamal Adams went on his campaign against the Jets organization with multiple public outcries and an exclusive with the Daily News that shined a light on the organizational instability and internal hypocrisy. The hypocrisy was directed towards Gase, who Adams said openly, never would talk to the team, or make adjustments. He delegated that to assistant coaches. Being able to admit when you’re wrong and make adjustments is what makes a good coach. When you fail to do that or fail to even address your team on your level, you not only lose the respect of the players, but you also build a culture of incompetence. That’s exactly what he’s done.

So, Gase’s reputation took a massive hit with the Adams saga, but then he was traded, and brighter days seemed to loom large. Then, the perspective captain of the defense in the wake of the Adams’ trade, Mosley, opted out for the safety of his family and himself. Now, the Jets defense will play this season without presumably, their two biggest stars.

The New York Jets might have a different version of Adam Gase this year:

When Adam Gase took the podium this week, one thing struck out to me that signaled a potential change of heart… accountability. Rumors swirled this offseason about tension between the Jets and one of their biggest offensive stars, Le’Veon Bell. Gase did something that has been a rarity in his career, take accountability for the way last season went, as he said:

“‘You’ve got make sure you’re using him the right way and making sure that we’re getting him to 16-plus games and not grinding him out, Last year, I feel like I did a bad job at the beginning of the season. I was really trying to get him going, and at the same time, teams kind of knew what we were doing and they were loading up the box and he was taking some shots. I’m sure that wore on him as the season went on.’”

This was a real big issue last season, as Bell was supposed to be the focal point of their offense. It was evident last season that Bell was struggling for a few reasons, poor blocking, fatigue as the season wore on, and poor game planning. If Gase is serious about working to make sure Bell takes more effective rushes, that can change the offense.

The offensive line is presumed to be improved with the overhaul, and Bell has been a gym rat and will hopefully be more physically ready for this season than last year, so those areas should improve. If Gase steps up like he says he plans to, that can not only change the rushing attack but rather the whole offense, and this was an offense that ranked in the bottom half of the league. Change is needed, and that change could be accountability by Gase. Still, actions speak louder than words, and if Gase can’t truly improve this season, then that needed change could be a new head coach of the New York Jets.

New York Giants’ Offensive Line Ranked 20th In The NFL By PFF

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

If you ask any New York Giants fan, they will tell you that their team had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season. In 2019, the Giants’ quarterbacks were sacked 43 times. However, Pro Football Focus disagrees.

According to PFF, “the Giants weren’t as bad as the perception last season.” The Giants’ offensive line finished 17th in PFF’s regular-season rankings for 2019, which is about average. Now, heading into the 2020 NFL season, Pro Football Focus has ranked the NFL’s offensive lines once again. This year, the Giants rank 20th out of the 32 NFL teams.

Is 20 Too High or Too Low?

The New York Giants did invest a lot into their offensive line this offseason. Dave Gettleman and company spent the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. PFF had Thomas as the highest-ranked offensive tackle on their draft board. 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).

Andrew Thomas is a significant improvement for the Giants at left tackle. Nate Solder, the man who has played that position for the last two years, had a career-worst season in 2019. Solder allowed a league-high 56 pressures and 11 sacks last season while also ranking just 70th out of 89 qualifiers with a 52.9 run-blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus.

It is surprising that the Giants’ offensive line ranked 17th in PFF’s 2019 rankings despite Nate Solder and Mike Remmers allowing a combined 96 pressures. However, there was a solid performance on the team’s front line that might have boosted the ranking. Right guard Kevin Zeitler continued to be a consistent, reliable offensive lineman. Zeitler earned a 76.4 overall grade ranked seventh of all offensive guards.

The Giants’ other offensive guard, though, did not perform as well. Will Hernandez regressed in 2019 after a promising rookie season in 2018. However, PFF did mention Big-Will as a potential breakout candidate entering his third season.

The center position is arguably the biggest question mark on the Giants’ roster right now. Jon Halapio struggled at that position last season and held the team back significantly. Now, entering 2020, there is a position battle brewing. Spencer Pulley, Nick Gates, and rookie Shane Lemieux will all be competing to earn the starting center job. An improvement at that position could be what puts an end to the Giants’ offensive line struggles.

The Giants have made improvements to their offensive tackle positions and there are reasons to expect a solid outing from the offensive guards in 2020. It is fair for PFF to rank the team’s line at 20th overall at this point, but if there is an improvement at the center position, the Giants could rise through the rankings.

Did the New York Jets get an offensive line steal in UDFA Jared Hilbers?

New York Jets, Jared Hilbers

The New York Jets invested money into a lot of positions during free agency. Their biggest investment in the offseason was on the offensive line. They also spent two picks on the line as well. As they enter 2020 with a revamped line, they added another piece who was not drafted, and he may have the most potential of any UDFA. Jared Hilbers is that guy.

Strengths

The athletic tackle from Washington has a lot of potential. He caught the eyes of a lot of scouts at the East-West Shrine game and earned a lot of respect from scouts league-wide. Although he stood out, he didn’t earn a combine invite. The 6 foot 6, 270-pound swing tackle has a basketball background, which further depicts his overall athleticism. Hilbers is a moldable talent at tackle who has the ability to play anywhere on the line. If Hilbers continues to develop, he could provide immense versatility on the line. At Washington, he sat and developed behind two draft picks, Kaleb McGary and Trey Adams. He was able to shift all over the line wherever need be, and he played really well whenever he was on the field. His athleticism makes him a valuable piece to mold on the line.

Weaknesses

Lack of significant on the field reps is the only real qualm I have with Hilbers. Hilbers is a raw prospect as well who will need to be molded at the next level. The Jets depth at offensive line is plentiful as well. With Cameron Clark and Mekhi Becton also joining the Jets as rookies, Hilbers is going to have to compete for every rep. If he has one bad game, that could be it. Overall though, there aren’t a ton of flaws in Hilbers game, just need to see more reps to identify true issues, and that could be the reason the Jets don’t keep him.

General Outlook

Overall Hilbers projects as a swing tackle at the next level. Adam Gase loves his athletic linemen, and Hilbers fits the bill. If he excels in his opportunities on the field, expect him to stay as a depth lineman. He was a draftable prospect, and the Jets knew that. He got the second biggest bonus with 62,000 dollars. Hilbers is obviously someone the Jets staff likes, and if given the opportunity, he could be a steal. 

The New York Jets could pursue Pro Bowl offensive guard Larry Warford

New York Jets, Larry Warford

You probably read that headline and thought, “Sheesh, how many more offensive linemen can this team sign?”. Quite frankly, Joe Douglas has spent loads of resources between draft picks and money towards fixing the offensive line. Although he’s done a great job, the New York Jets could add another offensive lineman who would turn the line into an above-average line. That lineman is the newly released 3-time pro bowler, Larry Warford.

Who is Larry Warford?

Larry Warford was a third-round pick by the New Orleans Saints during the 2013 draft. At 28 years old, Warford has started on the Saints offensive line since his inception into the NFL. He’s only missed a handful of games in that time, and he’s received three Pro Bowl nods in the last three years. Warford is a durable and talented guard. Had he hit the market at the start of free agency, he’d have been a hot commodity. Now, with the addition of Saints’ first-rounder Cesar Ruiz to pair with their other young offensive linemen, the Saints felt that Warford and his $12.9 million dollar cap hit (2nd highest next to Drew Brees) were not worth it anymore. Warford now faces a likely extensive market.

The New York Jets Should Target Him

As I previously mentioned, although the Jets overhauled their offensive line, you never say no to a Pro Bowler. The tackles and center position may be solidified, and the Jets may have established competition at guard, but Warford is an instant game-changer. His durability and leadership would make him an asset. If you release Brian Winters and allow Alex Lewis, Cameron Clark, and Greg Van Roten to compete for the other guard spot, then Warford can be a starter on the line.

The fact is, the Jets need to continue to improve and establish completion at a position that is still not all the way improved. Adding a Pro Bowler in his prime would take the Jets’ offensive line to another level.

NFL Draft Watch: Top 5 OL Rankings

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, over the next few days, I plan on breaking down the best and brightest talents in this year’s class. This offensive line class has a lot of good players. The core four have stolen a lot of the headlines, but how do they rank in my eyes and is there a surprise 5th guy who could join the party?

1. Tristan Wirfs, Iowa

Pro Comparison: Ronnie Stanley

Wirfs is the top guy in this class in my opinion. Wirfs has the most upside and the least downside. Wirfs has a few technical flaws and he needs a little more coaching and refinement. Aside from that Wirfs is a great prospect. Wirfs has incredible athleticism, size, and durability. Wirfs comes from an offensive lineman factory and he’s going to be a stud at the next level. Ronnie Stanley is an All-Pro tackle and projects to be the best-case scenario for Wirfs.

2. Jedrick Wills, Alabama

Pro Comparison: Jason Peters

Jedrick Wills is a great prospect. Good run blocker, excellent pass protector and a good resume. Wills has competed against the best of the best in the SEC, and now Wills is heading to the next level. Wills showed one technical issue, lack of effort. Wills is a superb talent, but there were a few plays where you can see he gives up after a spin move that he doesn’t adjust to. That can change at the next level. Wills biggest downfall for me is the move he’ll have to make. Many see Wills as a left tackle, but he’s typically played on the right side. If Wills has a smooth transformation, he can be a damn good player. Wills reminds me of Jason Peters. Peters is a quiet and steady lineman who does his job at a high level and gets it done consistently.

3. Andrew Thomas, Georgia

Pro Comparison: Laremy Tunsil

I like Andrew Thomas a lot. He is the safest offensive lineman. He’s proven against SEC completion that his transition should be smooth. He’s a good run blocker and good pass blocker. He’s a special player, but he doesn’t have a singular standout trait. Thomas is just a simple and good player. That’s all you can ask for an offensive lineman, Thomas is a steady player and I think his transition will be similar to Tunsil’s. Tunsil had success fairly quickly and provided stability on the left side for the Dolphins, Thomas can do that wherever he gets picked.

4. Mekhi Becton, Louisville

Pro Comparison: Jonathan Ogden

Becton is a monster. At 364 lbs, the man ran a 5.10 second 40 yd dash. Becton is superhuman and an absolute bully on the offensive line. Becton has the most upside of these prospects. If his athleticism translates to the NFL, he’ll be unstoppable. There was just a lot of inconsistency to me in his tape. Some plays he bullied edge rushers, other plays, simplistic stunts threw him off. Becton also is a scary prospect on the physical side. At 360 plus pounds, moving around quickly could cause wear and tear over time. Durability could be a question. If Becton proves to be durable and gains some more knowledge on preventing those stunts and spin moves from killing him, Becton could be the best of these top 4 guys. Jonathan Ogden brutalized defensive linemen, just like Becton has the potential to do.

5. Ezra Cleveland, Boise State

Pro Comparison: Nate Solder

Ezra Cleveland has shot up draft boards. Rumors are swirling he could end up as a first-rounder. Cleveland, Josh Jones, Cushenberry, Ruiz, and Austin Jackson are the tier 2 of offensive linemen. Cleveland has the most upside of all of them if he can gain some more mass. At 310 that sounds unreasonable to ask him to gain more weight, but Cleveland just needs to fill out physically. Cleveland has some flaws, but if coached properly, he can be a franchise cornerstone at the tackle spot. 

Report: New York Jets sign guard Greg Van Roten

New York Jets, Greg Van Roten

The New York Jets have added another offensive lineman. Greg Van Roten was one of the top offensive lineman available, and the long islander is now a Jet.

What Does Van Roten Bring?

Greg Van Roten is a 30-year-old guard who will now likely become the Jets’ newest starter. He can also swing out and play tackle if need be, which provides more flexibility on the line. Van Roten will be receiving a three year deal with money not yet known.

Van Roten is a superb run blocker and pass protector. He’s only allowed three sacks and 5 QB hits in the past two years. He’s also been flagged once in 5 years. Van Roten has taken over as a starter in Carolina and not looked back. Van Roten immediately establishes the interior with Alex Lewis and Connor McGovern and makes it a much-improved one.

The Jets would still have room to grab an interior lineman on day 2 or 3, but it is no longer a necessity. Presumably, the Jets will aim to grab a rookie to compete with Lewis at the guard spot, along with the tackle they’ll likely grab at 11.

The Jets offensive line has been massively upgraded by Douglas in free agency, and adding a long time Jet fan and solid offensive lineman in Van Roten has furthered that.

What’s Next?

Now with all the offensive line additions, this makes longtime Jet Brian Winters expendable. Winters will likely be cut now and could find a market elsewhere.

The Jets now legitimately turn their attention to other areas. They could add a tackle, but they may focus on that more in the draft with pick 11. As for now, the Jets will likely continue to wait out the decision from Robby Anderson. If he doesn’t return, expect the Jets to move quickly to fill the speed receiver slot he will leave.

The Jets will also have to aim towards adding another outside corner. Prince Amukamara has been linked to the Jets a lot and could be a good fit to pair with a pick, Bless Austin and Brian Poole. The Jets also need to target an edge rusher or two. Lastly, the Jets should target a backup QB to upgrade over Siemian in case Darnold gets hurt or mono again. Douglas achieved his first goal and did a damn good job of it with the offensive line. 

New York Jets Sign Connor McGovern (Report)

New York Jets, Connor Mcgovern

Connor McGovern was ranked as one of the top free-agent offensive linemen on the market, and now he’s on the New York Jets. Despite missing out on Graham Glasgow, the Jets remained steadfast in their mission for a new center. The Jets were rumored to have interest in Steven Wisniewski, a long time Eagle with connections to Joe Douglas. However, they went after McGovern and signed him to anchor the center spot for the future.

The Contract

McGovern signed a three year 27 million dollar deal to join the Jets with 16 million guaranteed. He will get A LOT more guaranteed money than Fant and much more job security within the parameters. McGovern got a very similar deal to that of Matt Paradis, a guy, the Jets, struck out on a year ago.

His Role

McGovern, as previously mentioned, becomes the anchor of the center spot. He also becomes the best center this team has had since Nick Mangold. He is 26 years old (turns 27 in April) and will be a Jet for the foreseeable future. Boy, is he talented. McGovern played 1,019 snaps last year and was flagged zero times and only gave up a single sack. The guy is a beast. PFF graded him as one of the better young centers in all of football. Production-wise he is efficient, and he becomes a great young piece.

What’s Next For The Line

The Jets woke up and added McGovern and resigned Alex Lewis. The interior of the line could be entirely sured up with the addition of G Greg Van Roten from Carolina. He’d give them a very good interior line and allow the Jets to focus on the tackle spot and other areas in the draft.

Should The New York Giants Make A Change At Offensive Line Coach?

On January 15, the Indianapolis Colts made a position coach change. The Colts fired their offensive line coach, Dave DeGugliemo. This move by the Colts prompted plenty of Giants fans to wonder if their team will make a change on their own coaching staff and pursue DeGugliemo.

Dave DeGugliemo’s Resumé And Connections With The New York Giants:

Dave DeGugliemo actually used to be part of the New York Giants’ coaching staff. He was a part of the 2008 Super Bowl victory in which the Giants had one of the league’s best offensive lines. DeGugliemo served as the Giants’ assistant offensive line & quality control coach from 2004 to 2008.

In 2018, the Indianapolis Colts had arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. They showed massive improvement from 2017 to 2018. In 2017, the Colts had the 25th ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. DeGugliemo helped turn that around in 2018, as they were the 6th ranked offensive line per PFF.

Part of this change came from having DeGugliemo as the offensive line coach. He was brought to Indianapolis in 2018 by head coach candidate Josh McDaniels, who was later replaced by Frank Reich. Dave was the only assistant coach that Reich did not hire himself, so after one season he has decided that he wants to make his own hire.

Dave DeGugliemo has been part of some of the best offensive lines in the NFL over the past 15 years. Aside from working with the Giants, DeGugliemo also worked as an offensive line coach for the Dolphins in 2009-2011. The Dolphins 2009 offensive line unit was ranked second in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. They also ranked 8th in 2010.

The Dolphins’ offensive line struggled in 2011, and DeGugliemo moved on to become the offensive line coach of the Jets in 2012. The Jets’ offensive line ranked 3rd in the NFL in 2012. He only spent one season with the Jets and did not coach in 2013. In 2014, Dave went to the New England Patriots and coached the Giants’ current starting left tackle, Nate Solder.

Dave DeGugliemo has an extremely impressive track record. The New York Giants offensive line has been struggling for years and did not show much improvement when new offensive line coach Hal Hunter took over in 2018. The Giants could look to bring DeGugliemo back to New York in order to fix their offensive line issues in 2019.