One of the major concerns coming into the 2021 NFL season for the New York Giants was the quality of play on the offensive line.
Andrew Thomas was coming off of an unsuccessful rookie season. Matt Peart and Shane Lemieux earned limited snaps in their rookie season. Will Hernandez has never returned to his rookie season self. Though not remarked enough, Nick Gates was the most consistent offensive lineman in 2020.
The Denver Broncos announced on Sunday that Bradley Chubb would not be active due to an ankle injury. The Giants caught a break, but still had to face Von Miller.
New York Giants Offensive Line Solid But Not Spectacular in Season Opener
To everyone’s surprise, the offensive line’s pass-blocking did not cost Daniel Jones and the New York Giants the game. According to PFF, Daniel Jones’ pocket was clean on 74% of his drop-backs, only the second highest in his career.
Andrew Thomas allowed two pressures, but was solid in pass protection for most of the game. There may have been a different story if Bradley Chubb played, but Thomas lined up against Malik Reed and played fairly well.
Based on PFF, it is fair to say all of the following guards blocked well in the passing game: Will Hernandez, Shane Lemieux, and Ben Bredeson. Bredeson struggled in the running game as did Hernandez, but Lemieux surprised and showed promise, rather than last year. However, Lemieux only pass blocked in 11 snaps due to an ankle injury.
Arguably the worst pass-blocker was Nate Solder. Solder allowed two pressures and a sack (Von Miller). On one of the plays a pressure was allowed, Nate Solder bumped into running back Devontae Booker. This confusion led Von Miller and A.J. Johnson to pressure the quarterback.
Despite one snap where the snap count was off, second-year UConn tackle Matt Peart fared well against Miller.
While the offensive line finished on a positive note in terms of pass-blocking, their weakest point happened to be the running game, a high point late in 2020. Saquon Barkley earned 10 carries in his first game back in nearly a year after his ACL injury. Barkley averaged 2.6 yards per carry, gaining 26 yards on 10 carries out of the backfield. Though he was eased into it and did not look all there, he had no holes to run through.
One of their best run blocking guards, Shane Lemieux, exited the game after the first three series with a knee injury. Lemieux has been dealing with the knee injury since training camp. He did not practice on Monday, so he may not play against Washington on Thursday. Barkley’s first run, while Lemieux was still at left guard, went for five yards. That was his longest carry of the day.
Once former Ravens guard Ben Bredeson took over, the running game fell off. Also to note, the Giants had to abandon the running game early. This was due to the fact they need to move the ball downfield in a fast pace with the defense being on the field forever. Will Hernandez also struggled in the running game.
Whenever the Giants attempted to run the football again, Nick Gates looked like their best blocker.
The Giants totaled 60 yards and 20 rushes on the day. Unfortunately, Daniel Jones led the running game in yards. Take out his contribution, the Giants end up with 14 rushes for 33 yards. That is only 2.3 yards per attempt.
Giants Offensive Line Outlook
The New York Giants offensive line showed promise with their somewhat improved pass-blocking skills. Yes, the Giants avoided a possible tragedy with no Bradley Chubb, but fared well against the other rushers not named Von Miller.
In terms of the ground game, the Giants need to vastly improve. When Shane Lemieux exited, Ben Bredeson was the weakest link in the ground game other than Will Hernandez. With Saquon Barkley as your running back, 2.3 yards per attempt will not cut it.
Washington ranks in the top 15 against the run after Sunday. The Giants need to find a way to fix their running game issues, no matter who is in the backfield.
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