by Spiro Kasabian @ nyspawtsguy_spi

We have all heard the Dave Gettleman quotes since he took over as the New York Giant GM in 2017.  Gettleman made no bones about what he coveted and what was most important for him to fix after taking the GM position.

“Big men allow you to compete and that’s what we’ve got to fix.”

“We’ve got to fix the o-line, let’s be honest.”

“You’ve got to run the ball.”

“I believe in the ‘hog mollies’”

Well, two years have gone by now and the New York Giant Offensive Line rebuild is not much closer to being completed than when Gettleman took over.  You could argue that they have a bit more talent, but the results remain the same.  The Offensive Line is still a weakness for the New York Giants.  Until that unit gets fixed, the Giant offense will remain inconsistent and ranked in the bottom half of the league.

2019 Season in Review

The 2019 season played out in a similar fashion that the previous eight years have.  Nate Solder and Wil Hernandez took a step back.  This coincided with the unsuccessful return of Jon Halapio and some inconsistencies out of the Right Tackle position, which led to another down year for this much-maligned unit. 

Newly added Right Guard Kevin Zeitler performed well but, on a unit that featured at least 3 players that were performing at a below-average level, one player can only do so much.  One of the few other bright spots in 2019 was Nick Gates, who performed admirably in several spots starts at Right Guard and Right Tackle.  He is one to keep an eye on in 2020.

For a team that wanted to run the ball well, the Giants finished the season ranked 19th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (take into account Barkley missed a few games and wasn’t full speed upon return).  They also allowed both Eli Manning and Daniel Jones to be sacked 43 times while being hit 119 times (3rd most in the NFL).  Those numbers are all ranked in the bottom half of the league and we’re large part of the reason why this Giant offense struggled to gain any consistency yet again in 2019.

Offensive Line Coach, Hal Hunter, was never able to raise the level of play of the offensive lineman since taking over in 2018.  He was an odd hire in 2018, after being unsuccessful at his previous two stops in Indianapolis and Cleveland and out of football for two years before signing with the Giants.  Joe Judge made the easy decision of letting Hunter go upon becoming the Head Ball Coach.  Marc Colombo has been hired as the new Offensive Line coach.

Looking Ahead to 2020

Dave Gettleman is running out of time to get things turned around.  2020 will be a “make or break” year for Gettleman and his promise to fix the Offensive Line.  With the future franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones, starting under Center in 2020 the time to build a secure Offensive Line that will keep him healthy is now.  Jones showed a proclivity to fumbling the ball in 2019, in large part due to the porous line in front of him.

The New York Giants will have no choice but to stick with Nate Solder for one more year in 2020 due to his enormous Cap Hit (a cool $13 million).  If you improve the Center and Right Tackle positions, I believe you can live with Solder at Left Tackle for one more year.  With the addition of Marc Colombo, the Giants finally seem like they might have a suitable Offensive Line coach that can coach up these players.

My hope for this offseason is that the Giants sign a veteran Center like Ted Karras (New England) or Connor McGovern (Denver) to solidify the middle of this unit. 

Next, Gettleman drafts a future Left Tackle early in the 2020 NFL Draft.  Round One candidates Jedrick Willis Jr. (Alabama), Tristan Wirfs (Iowa), Andrew Thomas (Georgia), and Mekhi Becton (Louisville) would all be suitable anywhere in the Top 10.  Some candidates later in the draft (Rounds 2-3) are Austin Jackson (USC), Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn) and Josh Jones (Houston). 

Judge can allow the rookie selection to battle for the Right Tackle spot with Nick Gates to start off the year in 2020.  If Solder’s play continues to go south, Judge can move the rookie over to Left Tackle midway through 2020 to prepare them for the full-time job.   In a perfect situation, Gates excels at Right Tackle and you have yourself a fully rebuilt line of Hog Mollies that are young and cost-controlled. 

Let’s hope that Gettleman can right the ship.  The offense goes as the offensive line goes.