Giants Seek Improvement From O-Line

Through the first two games of the preseason, the New York Giants‘ offense has not yet clicked.

The major culprit in games against the Steelers and the Browns has been the offensive line. It is an issue that head coach Ben McAdoo says needs definite improvement.

Winless in their first two preseason games, the Giants have scored just 18 combined points. Most worrisome though is the fact that Big Blue has allowed nine sacks during that stretch. Only one team in the league last year, the Cleveland Browns, averaged more than four sacks allowed a game, underscoring just how big of a concern the play of the offensive line has been thus far.

Two preseason games are a small sample size, but it is clear that the line must improve.

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“I think the first group needs to play together and you need to be able to push the first group as well, so there is a balance there,” McAdoo said. “But guys have earned opportunities to go in there and compete, and we need to give them those opportunities.”

The Giants didn’t draft any Week 1 starters for their line, but they did bring in veteran D.J. Fluker. The former San Diego Charger can play either guard or tackle and is solid at either spot.

Fluker isn’t listed as a starter on the depth chart at the moment, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him as an opening night starter against Dallas in Week 1.

The Giants went against conventional wisdom the last two NFL Drafts by opting not to take an offensive lineman in the first round. The same can be said of their free agency strategy, with Fluker being the only big-name addition during that stretch.

The offense, however, doesn’t call for an elite line, given that quarterback Eli Manning is supposed to make quick reads and get the ball out of his hands fast. Theoretically, this means that Manning won’t be under pressure due to the fact that the ball will be out of his hands by the time the rush collapses the pocket.

But the numbers from preseason point to the fact that the Giants’ quarterbacks have been under heavy duress.

“We understand that’s where we’re at right now, but we’re attacking every day, trying to get better, as I’ve said. It’s a process, we understand that. We’re not going to freak out about it because we’re still working,” center Weston Richburg said. “We’re still kind of in training camp mode, so we’re coming out and trying to do everything we can to put our team in the best situation possible.”

Besides allowing sacks, the offense has struggled in other areas. They have yet to score a touchdown and injuries to Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall have come at the most inopportune time.

It isn’t just the passing game that has faltered a bit in training camp, but a running game that struggled last year has actually taken a marginal step back in preseason.

The Giants have managed 138 rushing yards so far this preseason, good for 3.2 yards per carry. Last year, Big Blue averaged 3.5 yards per carry in the regular season, fourth worst in the NFL.

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The good news for Big Blue is that it’s still preseason, and there’s hope that in a week’s time, help might just be on the way. As teams trim down to a 53-man roster, veterans are cut or a talented young player gets lost in the numbers game.

Given that they do have some salary cap room, the Giants are in a position to add a player or two who might be able to make an immediate impact on the line. It just might be their best chance to address some of their problems.