Life will not get any easier for the New York Giants offensive line. Following a 12-7 loss to the New York Jets in their preseason opener, the Giants will take on the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. The Browns feature a defense that is deep and talented across the board. Although many of Cleveland’s key starters — such as Myles Garrett — likely will not play against New York, the Giants offensive line will be under scrutiny. Their performance against the Browns young front seven could determine whether general manager Dave Gettleman decides to add depth to the unit before the regular season begins.
New York Giants Offensive Line at a Crossroads Against Cleveland Browns
New York Giants Offensive Line Lacking in Depth
Even before the preseason began, the Giants needed veteran offensive linemen. All projected starters are 25 or younger, implicating a need for experienced and versatile backups. However, that issue has seemed to get worse by the day. Veterans Zach Fulton and Joe Looney retired in training camp, while Jonotthan Harrison and Nate Solder have suffered injuries.
The Giants ugly preseason opener made the problem even clearer. Even though most of the starters matched up well against the Jets defensive starters, the Jets racked up five sacks and prevented the Giants from establishing a passing attack. The performance raises real concerns about how the offensive line will fare in pass protection during the regular season. Injuries are almost inevitable in the NFL, so it is more than likely that New York’s backup linemen will have to step up at some point for the team to succeed.
Lots at Stake for New York Giants Offensive Line against Cleveland Browns
Another subpar showing by the offensive line on Sunday could turn anxiety surrounding the unit into tangible panic. The Browns bring a defensive line positioned to create such panic. Matched up against the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose offensive line is more experienced than New York’s, the Browns defense constantly generated pressure in a 23-13 victory. Despite playing their starting linemen for most of the snaps, Jacksonville’s line looked outmatched against Cleveland’s second and third-string defenders. Thus, for the Giants offensive line, facing the Browns will be its first full-game preview of how it stacks up against starting-caliber defenders.
The Giants most intriguing challenge will be containing the Browns linebacking corps. Talented rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah played an outstanding game against the Jaguars, racking up eight tackles and a sack. His versatility as an edge rusher and a run defender should put Giants tackles Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart under duress. New York’s linemen will zone in on limiting Owusu-Koramoah, but overcommitting to that goal would allow players like defensive tackle Sheldon Day and linebacker Sione Takitaki to stonewall the Giants rushing attack. That’s a dilemma the Giants will face week after week in the regular season, which makes it essential for the offensive line to competently respond this week.
More Struggles Could Lead to More Additions
If the Browns defense outplays the Giants offensive line, fans will push even harder for Dave Gettleman to sign a free agent to improve the unit. The talent is available; former starters such as veterans Austin Reiter and Rick Wagner are still free agents. But fully grasping offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s scheme by Week 1 would be a lot to ask of any free agent signing this late in the off-season, let alone a potential starter with immense responsibility. It will be up to New York’s current linemen to prevent Gettleman from having to choose between stability and skill on the offensive line.