SB Champ Defends Struggling Giant: He’s a ‘Heck of a Football Player’

Shaun O'hara: 'Nate Solder is a heck of a football player'

Getty Nate Solder of the New York Giants high-fives ex-teammate Cody Latimer

Nate Solder’s struggles as a New York Giant are well documented. The 2x-Super Bowl Champion was handed a massive $35 million guaranteed contract in 2018 as part of general manager Dave Gettleman’s first free agency class at the helm.

This, despite the tackle seemingly being in the early stages of regression. Evident by him registering his three worst Pro Football Focus grades since his rookie campaign over his final four years in New England.

Solder’s struggles manning the quarterback’s blindside have only progressed since landing in New York. That, along with the additions of 2020 NFL Draft picks Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart, has led many to question his standing within the organization.

However, don’t dare bunch former Giants Super Bowl Champion Shaun O’Hara into that bunch.

Shaun O’Hara on Nate Solder: ‘He’s a Damn Good Left Tackle’

Shaun O’Hara isn’t here for the Nate Solder slander. The former second-team All-Pro selection and current-day NFL Network analyst recently came to the veteran tackle’s defense in a chat with the New York Post.

O’Hara pointed towards quarterback Daniel Jones’ lack of experience as an explanation for Solder’s recent struggles. He also noted Solder’s laundry list of career accomplishments as reasons why he’s not ready to sell his stock on the Giants left tackle quite yet.

People want to crap all over Nate Solder, [but] Nate Solder is a heck of a football player. He’s a damn good left tackle. You show me a left tackle who had a good year with a rookie quarterback. That doesn’t happen.

[Solder] won a Super Bowl with the Patriots, he at one point was one of the five best left tackles in the league. That doesn’t happen without having some skill. Now, has he gotten beat a couple of times in the last few years? Yeah. The problem is when he’s gotten beat, they’ve been for sacks. I think Nate Solder is still a damn good football player.’

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Giants Remain High on Solder

While Solder has clearly not lived up to his enormous contract, his first season in New York was actually quite a bit better than people give him credit for. Solder posted an overall PFF grade of 75.7 in 2018, at the time, his 2nd-best mark over the past five seasons.

However, things were far less positive in 2019, as Solder took a massive step backward. The Giants’ tackle is, by most accounts, coming off the single-worst season in his pro career. Solder’s PFF grade tumbled all the way to a 64.8 last year, marking a new career low.

Solder finished the year allowing 11 sacks on a league-high 56 pressures. His struggles carried over into the run game as well, where his 52.9 run-blocking grade ranked just 70th out of 89 qualifiers.

Solder has endured quite the slew of heartbreaking personal off-field matters that have almost certainly affected his on-field play. With that said, the Giants and coach Joe Judge appear hopeful that Solder can regain his previously dominant form in 2020, helping shape part of one of the better bookend tackle combos in football, alongside Andrew Thomas.

Yes, I believe in Nate Solder. I’m happy Nate Solder is here. I can’t wait to work with him on the field. Nate’s been a great leader for us, Nate’s working his butt off. I’m very excited to have Nate on the team.

I know Nate, I’ve known him for years. I know what he’s capable of, and I know [offensive line coach] Marc Colombo is going to work his butt off with Nate, and I know Nate is going to work as hard as he can to be the best player he can. I’m excited to see him in the field.


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