With Justin Pugh out, young Ereck Flowers has one final shot to showcase he possesses starting ability with the New York Giants.
The New York Giants drafted Flowers ninth overall in 2015. That obviously hasn’t worked out as well as the team was hoping, as he has struggled in his career so far. The team hedged their bets on him improving entering this season, but the entire offensive line struggled.
General manager Jerry Reese passed on Ryan Ramcyzk, which looks stupid in retrospect. However, there’s also a case to be made that he was too big of an injury risk for a win-now team to draft with their first pick. Ultimately, that was the decision they made and the team is stuck with Flowers.
Flowers’ play has improved since Pugh took over at right tackle. The team has been able to scheme to avoid some of Flowers’ weaknesses with a good right tackle. However, with Pugh out this week, it’s one last chance for Flowers to show he can be, at the very least, a starting right tackle.
Flowers hasn’t given up a sack since Week 2, according to Ryan Smith at Pro Football Focus.
Ereck Flowers hasn't allowed a sack since Week 2
282 pass blocking snaps – Longest active streak among OTs in NFL
— Ryan Smith (@PFF_Smith) November 13, 2017
Some of this is due to quarterback Eli Manning getting the ball out faster than he did the first two weeks, and some of it is due to Pugh playing well at right tackle. However, it still isn’t quite enough to show that he can start on the right side in the NFL.
With Pugh out this week, one of Bobby Hart or Chad Wheeler will start across from Flowers at right tackle. Wheeler is an undrafted rookie who would be making his first start, while Hart has been nothing short of a dumpster fire during his appearances this season.
Either one of them starting along the right would put pressure on Flowers to keep Manning protected. A team can scheme to protect one tackle, but not two.
Flowers has a chance to show that he can play strong football even when he’s the tackle that isn’t being protected by the scheme. This is a huge opportunity for the huge man.
If he shows he can step up, he may have a future as a right tackle. While ninth overall is a high pick for a right tackle, it’s better than the ninth overall pick being completely out of the league.
Flowers is in his third season. It’s often said that a player at three years is the player they will be for their entire career. While this isn’t always true, the Giants can’t afford to hope Flowers is the exception to that rule considering Manning will be 37 years old next season. At some point, all of the hits that Manning has taken during his 220 game career (including playoffs) will catch up to him.
A 37-year-old quarterback desperately needs good tackles, and so Flowers needs to use this opportunity to show that his growth is because of his hard work, and not just a function of playing with a better tackle across from him.
This could well be the final chance for the large tackle. It’s time for the big man to step up and take it. Otherwise, he could be looking for a new line of work next year.