To say that New York Giants‘ first-round draft pick Andrew Thomas has struggled to translate to the pro game thus far would be an understatement. The initial return on investment since selecting Thomas with the No. 4 overall selection this past April has been flat out bad. You know that. I know that. The Giants’ organization knows that, and according to offensive line coach Marc Colombo, Thomas knows that.
“He knows where we’re at. I know where he’s at, I know where the rest of the group’s at. We know where he’s at,” Colombo told members of the media this week, before promising a new and improved Thomas moving forward. “We’re gonna take this thing head on, and you’re gonna see a much more consistent Andrew Thomas down the stretch.”
Monday Will Prove Telling for Numerous Reasons
Thomas, who was “at least partially responsible for multiple sacks” this past Thursday, will be met with arguably the toughest opponent of his career this Monday night, as the Giants welcome a ferocious Tampa Bay Buccaneers front-seven into town.
The Bucs currently rank second in the NFL with 25 sacks through the first seven weeks of the season. They also bolster one of the league’s most feared pass-rushing duos in ex-Giant Jason Pierre-Paul and last season’s NFL sack leader, Shaquil Barrett.
So how should we expect the Giants to go about protecting their struggling rookie come Monday night?
“We’ll help him out when needed. We’ll help other tackles out. We’ll help guards and centers out based on matchup,” Colombo said. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to win more 1-on-1 reps than you lose. It’s pretty much what it comes down to. We put a lot on him, he knows that.”
Not only will Week 8 serve as a crucial moment in Thomas’ development, it will also give Giants fans a glimpse at what could have been, as many will get their first true look at fellow rookie tackle Tristan Wirfs. The ex-Iowa Hawkeye was commonly mocked to the Giants leading up to the draft and has since earned rave reviews since arriving in Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers run game coordinator Harold Goodwin called Wirfs “a legit Pro Bowl-type player,” in a recent Zoom interview, adding that the team “hit the lottery” on the selection of Wirfs at No. 13 overall, per NFL Network’s Kim Jones.
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Giants Continue to Show Faith in Thomas’ Long-Term Prospects
After playing just 46% of the team’s offensive snaps in New York’s lone victory of the season back in Week 6, Thomas was back in the lineup for all 60 offensive snaps during the Giants’ 22-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 7. Quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked three times that night, bringing the team’s total number of sacks allowed this year to 20 through seven weeks of play, tied for seventh-most in football.
While Thomas has been the easy scapegoat for these glaring struggles, he’s certainly not the only Giants offensive lineman at fault, as Colombo notes. With that said, the coach knows that opposing defenses will continue to attack Thomas’ weaknesses until he proves he can correct them.
“This isn’t just with Andrew, but a lot of times, you just get into survival mode because you’re seeing multiple pass rushers, multiple moves,” Colombo said. “These guys are studying him all week, so anything that’s hurt us up front, or any other offensive line, for that matter, they’re gonna keep hammering you with it until you get the problem corrected, and that’s something we’re trying to work on.”
Colombo places some of the pressure on his own shoulders, noting it is his job to “simplify” things for Thomas so the young guy doesn’t need to be “thinking too much.” However, he’s also well aware that at some point Thomas will need to step up to the plate.