The New York Giants have been plagued by inconsistent offensive line play for years. And unfortunately for fans, the improvements are few and far between.
As the season quickly approaches, the Giants finished preseason play with another shaky performance from their O-line. Quarterbacks Daniel Jones and Mike Glennon were each sacked twice as Big Blue fell to the New England Patriots 22-20.
Desperate for answers, general manager Dave Gettleman swung a deal on Monday for Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Billy Price, giving up fourth-year defensive lineman B.J. Hill. However, Price might not be right for turning New York’s fortunes around.
The offensive line for the New York Giants has failed to improve
Under Gettleman’s regime, the Giants have had no problem drafting offensive linemen. Since he took over the job in January 2018, New York has selected Andrew Thomas (2020 first round), Will Hernandez (2018 second round), Matt Peart (2020 third round), and Shane Lemieux (2020 fourth round). All four players are expected to be starters this season.
So far, the young O-line has struggled, to say the least.
The worst offender is Thomas, the fourth overall pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, who New York is counting on to be its franchise left tackle. But Peart has also struggled along the right side and could be benched in favor of veteran Nate Solder, while Lemiuex is still nursing a knee injury suffered near the start of training camp.
“I put pressure on myself. I know I’ve been given this role. And I worked hard to be here,” Thomas told NJ.com after the Patriots game. “So I have to step up and do what I have to do.”
“I think I made improvements [this offseason], but there are a lot of things I still need to work on. I’m trying to fix those things.”Andrew Thomas
One bright spot out of that group, however, has been Hernandez. The fourth-year guard, entering the final year of his rookie contract, had a strong showing against the Patriots with a 92.2 grade, according to Pro Football Focus.
Billy Price has failed to live up to first-round expectations
The Bengals, like the Giants, haven’t quite figured out how to fix their struggling O-line. And perhaps no player from the last few years sums that up like Price.
Cincinnati made Price, a center from Ohio State, its first-round pick in 2018. The Ohio native was a unanimous All-American and was awarded the Rimington Trophy as college football’s top center.
Unfortunately for Price, his pro career hasn’t been a success. The 26-year-old suffered a foot injury in the second game of his rookie year, forcing him to miss six weeks. Price’s hold on the starting center job slipped away in year two, and last season, the disappointing lineman appeared in just 19 percent of Cincinnati’s snaps on offense.
Now with a new team and on the final year of his rookie deal, Price will be aiming for playing time at either center or guard. He could see some time at left guard with Lemiuex still on the mend or compete at center against current starter Nick Gates, a fourth-year lineman who went undrafted in 2018.
Even with Price, the Giants still have problems on the O-line
Price will provide some depth in the interior of the O-line. But adding a disappointing first-round bust won’t transform a unit that, as a whole, finished 32nd in PFF‘s offensive line rankings.
For New York to succeed, the linemen drafted and developed by the franchise will need to improve and do it quickly. Thomas’ preseason struggles are concerning, and when held up against draft classmates Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills Jr., look even worse. The same goes for Peart, a third-rounder whose rookie year gave the Giants enough confidence to not draft any offensive linemen in 2021.
“We’re all one year older, we all have one more year of experience. We all played together last year,” Gates told USA Today ahead of last weekend’s loss to New England. “Towards the end of the year, we picked it up. Hopefully, we pick up where we left off last year.”
Some of the blame can fall on coaching, as well. Head coach Joe Judge missed the mark on his hires in 2020, now trusting several different coaches to run the position group. Still, Judge knows that success or failure will ultimately fall on the players.
“I’ve confident in the way we work and ultimately, that’s what’s going to help us improve,” Judge told Sports Illustrated near the start of camp. “In terms of how our players work, I’m confident in their commitment to the process and what they’re going to do to improve.”
The addition of Price could turn out to be a positive for Big Blue. But if Thomas and company can’t turn things around before facing Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and the Denver Broncos in Week 1, it could be another long year in the Big Apple.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus.