To say the New York Giants have had a rough go at it to kick off the 2020 NFL season would be putting it lightly. Approaching the sixth week of the year, head coach Joe Judge is still looking for his first victory with his new team. The narrative of quarterback Daniel Jones’ regression has been widely spread, although losing two of his top four playmakers to injury as well as operating behind one of the league’s worst graded offensive line units doesn’t exactly help his cause.
Speaking of Big Blue’s o-line struggles, rookie first-rounder Andrew Thomas has endured quite the welcome to the NFL experience thus far, taking the brunt of the criticism for the team’s blocking woes from the mainstream media. It’s certainly easy to see why, as Thomas ranks among the top-two players in all of football in both sacks surrendered and pressures allowed.
However, Thomas is far from the only concerning piece of Dave Gettleman’s crapshoot Hog Molly collective and is not being done any favors with the players the team has opted to surrounded him with.
Will Hernandez ‘Doesn’t Totally Understand the Game’
Former three-time Super Bowl Champion and current-day FS1 analyst, Mark Schlereth, believes you don’t have to go very far to find a culprit that has added to Thomas’ struggles this season. In fact, all you have to do is look at the guy who lines up next to Thomas on every play.
Starting left guard Will Hernandez quickly became a fan favorite for his bullish play style and tough-guy persona upon joining the Giants as a second-round pick out of UTEP in 2018.
However, that same persona has seemingly superseded his on-field play thus far in his career. Hernandez holds a career Pro Football Focus overall grade average of just 62.4 over his 37 games with New York.
Schlereth believes Hernandez’s faulty play has much to do with his football smarts, or rather, lack thereof. Schlereth was highly critical of Hernandez in a recent interview with North Jersey Media Group, noting the guard “doesn’t totally understand the game.”
Schlereth was quick to note he was “not making excuses,” yet rather “giving you reasons.”
“There are a lot of reasons there If he [Thomas] was playing next to a guy like me or next to a guy like [David] Diehl or next to a guy like Shaun O’Hara, he would have a lot of things to his advantage,” Schlereth proclaimed.
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Nick Gates is ‘Bad’ & The Giants Own the Worst Tackle Tandem in NFL?
To continue the trend of pointing out glaring weaknesses, Establish the Run analyst Brandon Thorn singled out a few Giants player of his own to throw shade at.
According to NJ.com, Thorn called the combination of Thomas and right tackle Cameron Fleming the “worst tackle tandem in the league.” He also added that starting center Nick Gates is flat-out “bad.”
We’ve harped on Fleming’s perceived inadequate play recently. While we aren’t defending his performance thus far, the fact of the matter is when you roll with a player who had been a backup in 49 of his 75 career games leading into the season, you can’t exactly be surprised when he puts forth sub-par play.
A similar point could be made about Gates. Yes, he showed promise a season ago as a tackle/guard combo, but much of that promise was attached to the fact that he was outperforming his draft status, a draft status that was non-existent for the former UDFA.
Instead of letting Gates slowly build on his developing play, the team moved him to center this offseason, essentially handing him a starting job at a position he had never previously played.
The returns thus far? Not good. Gates has seen his PFF grade drop 33.7 points from last year’s impressive 77.0 mark.
So, while Thomas clearly needs to play better if he has any hope of living up to his lofty draft status, as Thorn perfectly summed it up, “It’s a pervasive thing across the line of guys just not playing well.”
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