BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 29: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The New York Giants spent the last three years building up the offense. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense will be a major test for the unit.

Jason Leach

When the NFL released its 2020 schedule on Thursday night, it was revealed that the New York Giants would open their season at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most expected the Giants to start the season at Dallas as they have done in three of the last four seasons.

Instead, Joe Judge will make his head coaching debut against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers. The black and yellow have never had a losing season under head coach Mike Tomlin, who’s been their coach since 2007, and he always has his team prepared.

The Steelers also have one of the best defenses in the league as they finished last season ranked fifth in yards allowed.

But playing the Steelers in the season opener will be a good barometer to show if general manager Dave Gettleman acquired the right pieces this offseason to show progress in his third year as general manager.

The most intriguing matchup in this game will be the Giants offense against the Steelers defense. This will be a battle of strengths. Pittsburgh relies on its defense to control games while New York is going all-in on the offense.

Although we are over two months away from what we hope to be the start of training camp, it’s never too early to dissect a matchup.

Here are two facets of the game to watch for when the Giants offense is on the field against the Steelers defense.

How will the Giants offensive tackles fare against the Steelers edge rushers?

The Steelers front seven is one of the best in the NFL and they led the league in sacks last season with 54. Twenty-six of those sacks were by outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.

Gettleman made it a priority this offseason to upgrade the offensive line. The biggest addition he made to the offensive line was taking an All-American offensive tackle from Georgie, Andrew Thomas, with the fourth-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Barring injury, it’s a guarantee that Thomas will be a Week 1 starter. The only question is will he play left tackle or right tackle.

The Giants still have Nate Solder who has been their starting left tackle for the last two seasons. However, Solder has struggled mightily and he stated previously that he’s open to switching to right tackle.

With a limited offseason workout program, Judge and offensive line coach Marc Colombo must come to a quick decision on who will play right tackle, and who will protect Daniel Jones‘ blindside.

Often games are won at the line of scrimmage and if Thomas and Solder can’t keep Jones upright, the Giants will start off the season with a loss.

How Daniel Jones fixed his turnover issues?

For the most part, Daniel Jones lived up to his status as the sixth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He completed 61.9% of his passes while throwing 24 touchdowns and kept his composure through the adversity of the 2020 season.

However, Jones had one major issue—turning the ball over. He threw 12 interceptions and lost 11 fumbles. Last season, the Steelers led the NFL in takeaways with 38.

Not only will Jones and the Giants need to be mindful of the Steelers front seven, but the Steelers also have one of the best defensive backs in the league in Minkah Fitzpatrick. The safety earned First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors last season after 57 tackles in 14 games with the Steelers, and had five interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

He’ll likely be matched up against Evan Engram often and will try to lure Jones into making a mistake.

It’s imperative that Jones resolves his turnover issues in order for the Giants to win. The Steelers are too good to give them extra possessions.

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