The final weekend of the calendar year concluded a very turbulent 2018 New York Giants season that provided a number of storylines for all to digest. The one issue that remained constant was the state of the offensive line.
The units inconsistent play contributed heavily to the Giants 5-11 record, but there are some foundation pieces in place. Nate Solder and Will Hernandez are anchoring the left side of the line, however, the right side and center position still remains in a state of flux. There is work to be done, and Giants general manager Dave Gettleman fully understands rebuilding the O-line will be key to the team’s success.
Rebuilding the Offensive Line Key to New York Giants Success
Dave Gettleman is the Perfect Talent Evaluator for the Job
The Giants have the perfect talent evaluator for the job. Gettleman has a proven track record of being the architect of playoff contending teams as he received much praise for his work (2013-17) as GM of the Carolina Panthers. Many consider this period to be the most successful in the franchise’s history as the Panthers made three playoff appearances and played in a Super Bowl during his reign. Gettleman had no problem making the tough decisions (releasing Steve Smith and Josh Norman) if that path led to having a more well-rounded roster.
The key to his draft success has been building a roster that compliments the team’s playmakers. Achieving this can be tricky as you must trust your draft board and select the best player available without looking desperate to fill a void on the roster. Gettleman is open to using multiple selections to upgrade a position if those players grade out to be the best option at that pick. He’s willing to absorb the criticism that comes with job, but it’s all worth the price if his draftees are making contributions on the field.
Tough Decisions Lie Ahead for the Giants
The success of the Giants rebuild will depend heavily on the front office putting the right pieces in place to solve the puzzle called their offensive line. It’s no secret that Gettleman has an affinity for his “hog molies,” a term he uses to describe offensive linemen. However, his patience has been definitely tested by the group he inherited.
The biggest downfall of the Jerry Reese era as Giants GM was his inability to rebuild the offensive line. Often, his picks looked to be reaches instead of being the right choices. Gettleman understands this unit plays a key role in building a playoff contending team. He values size and strength over quickness and agility as Gettleman expects his offensive line to control the line of scrimmage from the opening snap until the final whistle.
He wasted little time with the OL rebuild as Gettleman released former starting tackle Bobby Hart before being issued his access key card to the practice facility. Changes still have to made to the O-line mix if the Giants are going to gain any offensive consistency in 2019. This offseason might the perfect time to cut more fat off the roster.
The Current State of The Giants OL
One of Gettleman’s best attributes as a talent evaluator is quickly recognizing a mistake in judgment and rectifying the situation immediately. Clearly, mistakes were made in free agency as right guard Patrick Omameh never lived up to expectations and the frustration level reached a point where he was removed off the roster. Omameh’s replacement, Jamon Brown, received plenty of accolades for stabilizing the line after being claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams in Week 9. All of the credit is well-deserved as the offense had its best statistical production on the field with his arrival. Brown is a solid lineman who is probably a stronger run-blocker than pass protector, and his return will be dependent upon if the Giants value continuity over change in the rebuild of the offensive line.
The odds are high that the Giants will seek a better option at the right tackle position as Chad Wheeler is a great story as an undrafted free agent who worked his way far down the depth chart into a starting role. However, Wheeler lacks the strength to neutralize speed pass-rushers at the line of scrimmage, so a change is inevitable.
The jury is still out on if Jon Halapio will make a full recovery from a horrific double fracture leg injury in Week 2 last season. Halapio was the talk of training camp as he established himself as the unit’s best player. Giants coach Pat Shurmur loves his toughness and willingness to become the leader of his O-line.
Spencer Pulley was a solid replacement following Halapio’s injury as he’s rarely given credit for his contribution to stabilizing the offensive line as well. If you have your doubts, re-watch the line’s performance in a Week 16 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Collectively, they were simply overmatched by a far superior interior line.
It wouldn’t shock anyone if the Giants brought both Halapio and Pulley back and let them battle for the center position at next summer’s training camp. Here’s one final nugget for thought: Halapio did play guard during his time at Florida.
What Lies Ahead For This Offseason
This offseason, Giant fans can expect several new additions to the OL mix either through the draft or via free agency. The bottom line, the Giants need better production from this unit, and they cannot afford to stumble out of the gate next season. It’s time to unlock their true offensive potential.
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