New York Giants Set Up Their O-Line for Struggles?

New York Giants Set Up Their O-Line for Struggles?


For almost a decade, every general manager the New York Giants have employed has made it a mission to improve the offensive line to a level the team enjoyed during the 2006-2010 seasons.


That unit, which included left tackle David Diehl, left guard Rich Seubert, center Shaun O’Hara, right guard Chris Snee, and right tackle Kareem McKenzie, was a rarity in that it not only performed at a high level, but it also managed to stay healthy for most of its time together.


These days, that’s been a challenge for the Giants and other offensive lines around the league. The Giants had hoped to fix their offensive line woes by adding rookie center John Michae Schmitz to a unit that already had tackles Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal. And speaking of Neal, the Giants were looking for the second-year player to leap forward in his development.


Meanwhile, it was widely believed that the coaches hoped for second-year man Joshua Ezeudu to win the starting left guard position and for veteran Mark FGlowinski to hold down the fort for one more year at right guard.


Those plans went up in smoke, starting with Ezeudu’s inability to beat out veteran Ben Bredeson for the job. Then throw in injuries to Thomas, Neal, and Schmitz that caused each man to miss multiple games, and suddenly the Giants, who these days continue to rank at or near the bottom of the league according to Pro Football Focus’s pass-blocking efficiency rating, were left scrambling.


Yes, injuries are a part of it. But other factors were in the coaches’ control that, in retrospect, they probably should have done things differently.



The Giants planned starting offensive line–left tackle Andrew Thomas, left guard Ezeudu, center John Michael Schmitz, right guard Mark Glowinski, and right tackle Evan Neal–was, on paper, a solid unit.


The problem is that the coaches were counting on three things to happen. The first was the line’s health, a huge gamble in any given year. Injuries to Thomas, Schmitz, and Neal have caused them to miss multiple games, thereby sabotaging the continuity and exposing a lack of quality depth, which we’ll get to in a moment.


The second thing was the improvement of Neal, their second-year right tackle. Neal worked all off-season trying to find a more comfortable stance for himself at right tackle, even working with former All-Pro NFL offensive lineman Willie Anderson in the off-season.


However, the results haven’t been there at all this season, and it can be argued that Neal, who has played in seven games because of injuries, is worse than he was last year.


According to Pro Football Focus data, Neal allowed a quarterback pressure once in every 10.26 pass-blocking snaps as a rookie. That total has risen slightly this year to one in every 10.3 pass-blocking snaps. For perspective, Neal has played in 225 fewer pass-blocking snaps.


To be fair, the Giants tried to anticipate injuries by working with various guys at multiple positions. But that had a trickle-down effect–and not a good one–which we’ll discuss momentarily.


Personnel Decisions

The right way to build an offensive line is to have your five starters and develop players in the background to eventually plug in if injuries strike. And somewhere among those reserves, having some established veterans on board is probably not a bad idea.


The Giants, however, decided to roll with youth. They couldn’t retain interior offensive linemen Nick Gates and Jon Feliciano, both of whom could have offered depth at guard and center, and decided to roll with Shane Lemieux, the snake-bit interior offensive lineman who has played just 18 career games due to injuries and who is again on injured reserve.


They cut guard/tackle Tyre Phillips after training camp, a guy who provided depth at guard and tackle and who had played fairly well for them the year prior in relief of Neal.


Instead, they kept Matt Peart, who has yet to pan out for the team due in part to injuries–he’s currently on injured reserve again this year–and in part to his development, having played just 40 games over four seasons. Yet when they needed a swing tackle to step in after Andrew Thomas was injured, they went with Joshua Ezeudu, who didn’t work at tackle all summer long, only being tossed into that role with about ten days to go before the start of the season.


And speaking of Ezuedu, who in two seasons has appeared in just 16 games due to injuries, calling into question how ready he was for live action.


It didn’t end there. After a horrible Week 1 outing against the Cowboys, guard Mark Glowinski was benched in favor of youngster Marcus McKethan, a player who not only missed most of the start of training camp while sitting on the PUP list after missing his entire rookie season due to injury. McKethan started Week 2-5 before landing back on the bench as a reserve due to injury.


Mcethan, in 242 pass-blocking snaps this season, gas allowed 17 quarterback pressures or one every 14.23 pass-block snaps.


They also decided to bench Glowinski after an admittedly horrible game against the Cowboys in Week 1 (a game in which no one looked good) for Marcus McKethan, who missed his entire rookie campaign due to an ACL injury.


The biggest personnel decision was the failure to find a solid swing tackle option. Again, the team decided to roll with Peart, who played nine games for this staff the year prior after coming off PUP due to a torn ACL suffered in 2021. Per PFF data, Peart has allowed one quarterback pressure for every 13.2 pass-block snaps, a career 95.1 pass-blocking efficiency rating.



When it came to getting the offensive line settled, this is where the coaches had their biggest failure. While it’s understandable that they wanted to get as many guys ready to play multiple positions in the event of injury, that they kept rotating different guys in and out of the lineup through the end of training camp was a headscratcher because it wrecked their continuity.


First, some guys didn’t get a chance to work together in the summer, such as Shane Lemieux, who, to my recollection, never took snaps with the first-team offensive line. But beyond that, the Giant never settled on a starting five early enough to allow those players to develop continuity.


When the injuries started happening, that further set the unit back in terms of having any chance whatsoever of establishing continuity.

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