The New York Giants offensive line’s woes are well documented.
In 2016, they struggled to protect quarterback Eli Manning. Manning was the eighth most pressured quarterback in the NFL according to Football Outsiders. He was sacked 21 times and pressured on 140 of his 632 drop backs.
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The Giants running game was nearly nonexistent, averaging a measly 88.3 yards per game. Only the Minnesota Vikings (75.3 yards per game), Los Angeles Rams (78.2 yards per game), and Detroit Lions (81.9 yards per game) averaged fewer yards. The Giants only had one 100-yard rushing performance when Paul Perkins rushed for 102 yards in the regular season finale against the Washington Redskins.
The offensive line received much criticism in 2016. It increased when the Giants didn’t do much to fortify the line through free agency or the draft.
The Giants brought in free agent tight end Rhett Ellison (who is more of a traditional tight end) and offensive lineman D.J. Fluker. They also moved up in the draft to take Adam Bisnowaty in the sixth round.
The same offensive line is returning for 2017. Paul Perkins replaces Rashad Jennings as the starting running back.
The Giants have said the offensive line has improved from last season. After two weeks of training camp, the verdict is still out.
There have been moments in training camp that show promise. Both Perkins and Orleans Darkwa had solid performances on Tuesday bolstered by an offensive line that created large holes for them to run through.
The second-team defense exposed the offensive line later in the day. Rookie defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson blew up a run while linebacker Deonte Skinner speedily ran into the backfield for a loss. Rookie Avery Moss beat Ereck Flowers. The play would have been a sack if Moss didn’t hurt himself.
“It’s very important,” center Weston Richburg said. “We have lots of weapons that we want to be able to use, and if we get the running game going, that opens that up to be a little dangerous.”
The Giants have one of the NFL’s most potent receiving corps in Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and rookie tight end Evan Engram. Last season, they could only manage 19.7 points a game because of the lack of a respectable running game.
The tight ends need to be a bigger part of the offense. They brought in Engram as a scoring tight end. Ellison, Matt LaCosse (who missed all of 2016), and undrafted rookie Colin Thompson are blocking tight ends
“The offensive line is developing confidence in each other. They’re coming off the ball. The tight end group is improving. That helps,” head coach Ben McAdoo said. “Perkins is a young back who has grown. We have some other young backs who aren’t afraid to hit the hole. There have been some shots of the offense knocking a hole through the defense and that is encouraging.”
Richburg says it’s going to take an effort from the entire offense to help in the running game.
“In the game, it’s going to take all 11 (offensive players),” Richburg said. “So, I think we’ve done a better job of all 11 guys being on the same page, and we’ve just got to continue with that consistency and carry that through the preseason and regular season.”