With Geoff Schwartz out with a dislocated toe and Brandon Mosley suffering a back issue, the New York Giants were at red alert for the guard position entering Week 1. They had one replacement ready to go in rookie Weston Richburg, but who would man the other spot?
John Jerry. The Giants would have to turn to the 6-foot-5, 340-pound former Miami Dolphin to man the right guard spot against the New England Patriots. Jerry had been mediocre over the first few games but really found his stride, playing almost every snap against the Pats. Pro Football Focus rated Jerry's game an astounding +5.1 for the game. He didn't disappoint in pass protection, where he's noted to be rock solid (in fact, he's allowed only one hurry in 154 snaps this preseason), but he really opened up against the run game.
I've cut a few GIFs (seriously, these things are my favorite) from the Patriot game to illustrate exactly what I'm talking about.
Watch No. 77 here. He's on an island versus the pass rusher and plays it perfectly. This is what gave him the reputation for being a much better pass blocker than run blocker over his career. Watch his feet. Always moving, it looks like he's tap dancing. Add that with his girth and you've got a really fat guy that's nimble enough to get in your way and absorb your pass rushing moves. If I were James Brewer, I'd watch this play and look at those feet.
Watch Jerry as opposed to the other linemen in this GIF. He's the only one that steps into the pass rusher as opposed to taking a few shuffles backwards or laterally. He engages his guy immediately off the snap and just doesn't let go. Again, just watch the footwork as he shifts his center of balance, the result is a perfect pocket for Eli Manning, who still misfires with Rueben Randle (C'mon guys, Tom Coughlin is tired of this!).
This play seems just like the one above. The only reason I wanted to show this again is to emphasize the footwork and the fact that Jerry had been playing like this the entire game. He stonewalled his assignment time after time after time. In this particular play, Nassib was under duress thanks to Mark Asper.
I mean, you can't run block better than this. Jerry shows surprising athleticism and power by getting quickly to the second level before rookie Andre Williams does and immediately engages the linebacker and gets him down to the ground, paving the way for a 38-yard run. For that one play, the right guard position looked like it was manned by vintage Chris Snee. It was a beauty to watch.
Here we see another sort of "pull" by Jerry as he gets into the "C" gap and takes on the crashing defender. He needed to make this block or Rashad Jennings wasn't going to get positive yardage in that play. We see here why Jerry isn't a great run blocker. He's very fast for his size and gets to his spot just fine, but he doesn't lean into his blocks. If he leans forward and drives through the defender, his inertia from being the size of a mini hippopotamus will take out just about anybody not named Vince Wilfork. He stays a bit upright, but he's still big enough to take out defenders and the result is a hard earned six or seven yards.
Jerry was so good here, I got to show this one from another angle.
Remember when I talked about Jerry being more dominant if he just knew how to drive with his legs and lean into his run blocks? This was picture perfect. He locks on, keeps those legs moving and drives through the defender, clearing a lane. Unfortunately, Peyton Hillis drifts too far to the right and gets knocked down before he can get to Jerry, but this is the kind of nastiness the Giants could use up front.
So, if any offensive linemen watch this game and watch No. 77, they will see a clinic when it comes to big guys blocking in space. He's quick, decisive, and bowls into the defender who appears in the main gap to spring Kendall Gaskins for an extra five yards.
The coup de grace. I saved the best for last. John Jerry is simply a monster on this play. He flattens not one, but TWO Patriots on this play. Both blocks were crucial for the running back to gain major yardage. He shows strength, agility, and most importantly, the ability to finish. Nothing more needs to really be said.
Since he was signed, I've been pushing for Jerry to be the starting left guard (mostly because I had wanted Geoff Schwartz to play right guard and Weston Richburg to play center). Jerry has the feet and the pass protection skills to succeed in keeping Manning upright.
I know he was mediocre for the first few games, but remember that he was coming off a knee procedure that sidelined him for most of the offseason. A bit of rust should have been expected. He definitely got better as the games progressed (though I definitely admit he struggled a bit more against the Jets).
I don't know that he will remain the starting right guard for the Giants once Brandon Mosley comes back, but based on how Jerry played against the Patriots, the situation is not as dire as it may seem. I know it's one game. I know, I know, "it's only preseason," believe me, I know. However, it doesn't matter who your opponent is when it comes to evaluating agility and speed. Certainly seems like his knee is doing better.
John Jerry gives me hope. Maybe it's only a little, but I'll take anything I can get.