The New York Giants are coming off of a crushing loss to the Arizona Cardinals in week seven. The Giants gave up 8 sacks to the Cardinals’ defense. The most notable sacks came on crucial third and fourth downs late in the game to officially hand the Giants their third loss in a row.
I admit it, I was wrong. I was really hopeful for the Giants’ offensive line heading into this season. In the offseason, I wrote an article stating that the rebuild was in fact complete. Kudos to all those who thought otherwise. Unfortunately, you were right. The Giants’ offensive line is not finished being rebuilt. In fact, it is far from it.
Left Tackle Liability
The Giants shocked the league in the 2018 offseason when they decided to make Nate Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman of all time. Solder was certainly an upgrade over Ereck Flowers, so many fans were fine with the signing. The Giants were simply filling a position of need with the best player available.
But many fans were quick to point out the potential risk of the Nate Solder signing. Solder was an average left tackle being paid like a world-class player. Sure, he was an improvement. But how big of an improvement was he really? Well, this season, Solder has not looked anything close to the player the Giants are paying for.
So far, through 7 weeks of the 2019 NFL season, Nate Solder has allowed 5 sacks and a whopping 26 pressures. That means that Nate Solder is letting his man get to the quarterback at an average around 4 times per game. To put this in perspective, Nate Solder allowed a total of 33 pressures through the entire 2018 season. Nate Solder is clearly regressing to a below-average left tackle and quickly becoming a liability on offense. Unfortunately, Solder and the Giants are tied to the hip with no real out in his contract until 2021 when the dead cap number drops to $6.5 million, which is still a hefty cap burden to bear.
In this video, you can see Nate Solder was beaten badly multiple times against the Arizona Cardinals.
Rocky Right Tackle Play
On the other side of the offensive line, it has not been much better. Newly-signed right tackle Mike Remmers has been a disappointment so far. Remmers has allowed 24 pressures and 2 sacks through 7 games.
To put this in perspective, Mike Remmers is averaging about 3.43 pressures per game. If he keeps at this rate, he would end the season with roughly 54 total pressures allowed. Last year, the Giants’ biggest offensive line liability, Chad Wheeler, allowed only 43 total pressures.
The Giants pass protection did not receive an upgrade at right tackle this offseason. Luckily, the Giants are not stuck with Remmers in the long-run like they are with Solder. The Giants signed Mike Remmers to a one-year deal this offseason and can easily move on from him either through the draft or free agency (where New York is set to have lots of money to spend). Fans should just hope that Dave Gettleman does not tie up too much money to an average offensive tackle again this offseason.
A Hole In The Center
The Giants were excited to get their center Jon Halapio back from injury this season. Jon suffered a broken leg in week two of the 2018 season. To that point, the Giants’ offensive line was atrocious, but Halapio was performing the best out of any of the players in the unit.
In week one of the 2018 season, Jon Halapio had Pro Football Focus’s third-best pass blocking grade (85.2) among centers with at least 50 offensive snaps. Dave Gettleman himself said that Halapio was playing the best out of anyone on the offensive line before he got injured.
This led the Giants to feel content with their talent at center and roll with Jon Halapio in 2019. Halapio has struggled so far this season. So far this season, Halapio has posted a Pro Football Focus grade of 51.6, ranking him 26th in the league at his position.
While Halapio is not the worst center option, and he is on a cap-friendly deal, there is certainly room for improvement. Halapio is an inconsistent center who has flashed great potential as a pass-blocker but seems to be making too many mental mistakes in 2019. Such as this play against the Minnesota Vikings:
The Part That The Giants Have Right
The Giants have their hands tied at left tackle and could use a major upgrades at right tackle and center. But there are two other positions on the offensive line that they seem to have right.
Much of the pressure that the Giants have let up this season has come off the edge, which is why we can place blame on Mike Remmers and Nate Solder. But the Giants’ guards, as expected, have been the strength of the offensive line so far.
Kevin Zeitler is still playing like a top-ten player at his position. He has allowed only one sack so far this season, committed only one penalty, and has done a nice job keeping pressure away from the quarterback. The Giants are paying big money for Kevin Zeitler, too, but at least they are getting high-level production from their right guard.
Will Hernandez is in his second season and has been quietly building off of his strong rookie campaign. He has had his fair share of mistakes (3 penalties), but the sophomore left guard has not allowed a single sack so far this season. Big Will also boasts one of PFF’s highest pass-blocking grades at his position with a grade of 79.5.
So, unfortunately, the Giants’ offensive line rebuild is not complete. It is, disappointingly, far from it. Sure, they have two strong pieces in place at both guard positions. But the Giants’ lack of talent at the tackle positions is proving to be killer this season. New York will need to address this in the offseason and continue working towards a long-term plan for their offensive line rebuild.