If Ereck Flowers continues to struggle, the New York Giants should consider playing Justin Pugh at left tackle.
It’s no secret that the New York Giants have struggled to score points in 2016. Eli Manning has been good but still erratic at times while the run game has continued to struggle. Victor Cruz looks like a shell of his former self while the Giants haven’t gotten a significant boost from their tight ends, either. Though, arguably the biggest issue has been the play of the offensive line. Second year pro Ereck Flowers has struggled at the left tackle position, particularly in pass protection. He’s been one of the most penalized tackles in the league.
Flowers battled through ankle injuries as a rookie but held his own during his first season. In year two, it’s been a different story as opposing defensive ends have gone around the former Miami Hurricane with too much ease. Flowers’s future as a left tackle is uncertain, but the Giants should at least consider making a change at some point this season should Flowers continue to struggle.
Justin Pugh has been out with a knee injury for the past five games, but it looks like he should return against Detroit on Sunday afternoon. Pugh has featured at guard this season and in parts of 2015, though a move to left tackle is something the Giants should consider.
Pugh played mostly at right tackle in 2013 and ’14, but saw time protecting Eli Manning’s blind side last season. While he didn’t excel at the position, Pugh is familiar with the left side, having started there all four years in college at Syracuse. If Flowers continues to offer mediocre pass protection, Pugh could get another shot. The Giants have mad it public that they’re committed to Flowers at left tackle, but a few more poor showings could sway their confidence.
Giants OC Mike Sullivan on Ereck Flowers: "He's our left tackle." Team will try to help him. No plans to move him to the right side.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) December 15, 2016
This isn’t to say Flowers is completely incapable of manning the position, but it’s at least something to consider given the seemingly playoff bound Giants. Flowers is just 22 years old and has plenty of room to improve, but numerous penalties and inconsistent pass protection merit the conversation for a temporary change. It’s also worth noting Flowers played right tackle at Miami, a position he’s obviously familiar with. A move to the right side could also help bolster the ground game.
This is something the Jerry Reese, Ben McAdoo, and he coaching staff could address in the offseason, not wanting to disrupt any chemistry the o-line has built. However, given the inconsistency of Flowers and the return of Pugh, it’s something the New York Giants should at least consider.