The Giants offensive line had some issues in Saturday night’s preseason loss to the Jets. Don’t worry just yet though.
General impatience among Giants fans in regard to the offensive line has been alive and well for quite some time. The line hasn’t put together consistently dominant performances for years, which has certainly played a role in poor offensive production (the team hasn’t found itself in the top half of the league in total offense since 2015).
So Saturday night, when the below-average offensive line play reared its ugly head in the Giants’ preseason opener against the Jets, eye rolls and head shakes most definitely arose from the supporters of this franchise.
The Jets recorded five total sacks, one of which occurred late in the game when rookie defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall brought down Giants third-string quarterback Clayton Thorson in the end zone for a safety. In total, the Jets racked up 10 quarterback hits, a significant difference from the Giants’ two.
It wasn’t ideal for Big Blue, but everyone must settle down — you cannot become too concerned with the offensive line just yet.
The entire unit wasn’t present
The Giants currently employ a unit in which the projected starters, from left to right, are Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez, and Matt Peart.
Therefore, it’s interesting to note the entire group wasn’t on the field together for Saturday’s game — Shane Lemieux sat out due to the knee injury he suffered early in training camp. Kenny Wiggins started at left guard in his place.
If a Thomas-Wiggins-Gates-Hernandez-Peart group doesn’t gel as perfectly as you would like, that’s okay. Just as long as the actual starting group (with Lemieux) does.
It’s unclear when Lemieux will return to the game field; it could be when the Giants take part in their final preseason game — the “dress rehearsal” exhibition matchup — against the Patriots on Aug. 29. If all five projected starters participate in that game, then we’ll at least get a good look at how the line will fare.
Starters showed positive flashes
Despite how the overall offensive line performed in the loss to Gang Green, we must point out the success of some of the projected starters.
Per Ed Valentine (Big Blue View), Andrew Thomas recorded the best Pro Football Focus grade of all the team’s offensive players, finishing the game with a 76.0 mark. Matt Peart was right behind Thomas with a 73.2 PFF grade.
Will Hernandez, who has undergone his fair share of struggles the past few years, additionally played well. The projected starting right guard made numerous key pulling blocks on first-down runs for Corey Clement and actually recorded a solid 81.2 pass-blocking PFF grade (the team’s best).
Hernandez, a fourth-year player who’s in the final season of his rookie deal, needs a successful year to potentially remain with the organization that drafted him in 2018’s second round.
The bottom line: It’s still early
Don’t hang your head over this performance from a unit that hasn’t constructed many great performances in the last half-decade or so.
Don’t hang your head when you see the five sacks and 10 quarterback hits for the opponent.
The starting line wasn’t present in its entirety and the unit, as a whole, wasn’t protecting Daniel Jones, someone who could escape the pocket and perform better under pressure than Clayton Thorson (who succumbed to four of the five sacks).
You could additionally bring up the fact Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Sterling Shepard (all of whom didn’t play) could find space in the secondary quicker than some of the wide receivers who played Saturday. This would limit the amount of time taken for the quarterback to release the football (and thus limit the effectiveness of the opponent’s pressure).
Oh, and it’s just one preseason game. This is a young group that will grow and gel once everyone is present and on the field.
Don’t overly stress about this issue just yet.