Quarterbacks are to football what the sun is to the earth. The game orbits QBs. On one side safeguarding them is paramount. On the other, causing utter disruption for signal callers is the primary objective of opposing defenses.
The Giants have endeavored to construct a stable offensive line for the better part of the past decade. Their failure to meet that target has been central to the franchise making only one postseason appearance over the past nine seasons. If Saturday’s 22-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the final preseason game foreshadowed what is to come during the regular season, the Giants will have another long, fruitless year.
Although their third-year quarterback Daniel Jones did little to lessen doubts among Giants fans that he may not be the team’s long-term answer at the position after posting a sub-par 135 yards passing on 17-22 with one touchdown and one interception in his first preseason action, a troubling showing by the starting offensive line indisputably factored into Jones’ shakiness.
As was the case with most of the Giants’ first unit players on both sides of the ball, Jones and his protectors up front had been held out of the two games against the Jets and Cleveland Browns for various reasons by head coach Joe Judge. Playing the Patriots at MetLife Stadium was the Giants’ last opportunity to be tested in an actual game before the regular season opener at home versus the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12.
The teams had participated in joint practices in New England leading up to Sunday’s game but going head-to-head in an environment that best simulates regular season conditions has much greater efficacy. The Giants’ offensive line clearly needs a lot more work and refinement. Jones was sacked twice and was under constant pressure in the one half in which he was under center. The most conspicuous chink in their armor was at left tackle, a spot manned by last year’s first round pick Andrew Thomas.
Selected No. 4 by the Giants out of the University of Georgia, Thomas looked out of sorts. He allowed Patriots defensive ends to get outside of his left shoulder, gain leverage, and get to Jones. The still developing 22-year-old unhesitatingly took ownership of his faults. “There are some things I’ve got to improve on,” acknowledged Thomas. “My hand placement, staying wide on my set and keeping the depth with the pocket.
“… I think I made improvements, but there are a lot of things that I still need to work on… Sometimes I do it the right way, sometimes it might not be to my liking. I’m just trying to be as consistent as possible.”
Judge sees Thomas and the line as a work in progress. But the foundation must urgently be fortified with Week 1 of the regular season rapidly approaching. Nothing’s perfect at this point, we’re far from a finished product, we know that already,” said the former Patriots special teams coordinator who went 6-10 a season ago in his first year leading the Giants. “We’re going to keep working hard day by day to make sure we improve.”
The Giants began the week adding offensive line help by trading defensive lineman B.J. Hill and a 2022 seventh-round draft pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for offensive lineman Billy Price, and on Tuesday sent a 2022 fourth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for guard Ben Bredeson, a 2022 fifth-rounder and a 2023 seventh-round pick.