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Branden Albert’s Visit To Giants Is Too Little, Too Late

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Still, at least it’s something

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets
Branden Albert (76)
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Several months and five season-destroying losses too late, the New York Giants appear to at least be willing to try to do something to improve the depth on their offensive line. The Giants are reportedly going to work out veteran offensive tackle Branden Albert this week.

The question isn’t so much whether or not Albert can help. He will be 33 next month, hasn’t played a full season since 2011, and doesn’t have a job currently in a league filled with terrible offensive lines because his play fell off a cliff last season. Signing Albert is not going to cure what ails the Giants.

Art Stapleton tweeted this morning that perhaps Albert comes in and plays well enough to be an option for 2018. Maybe. There was a time when Albert was a quality NFL left tackle. I guess you can look at the situation and say it can’t hurt at this point to see if he has anything left. It really seems like a desperate dart-throw by the Giants. Then again, at 0-5, having chosen not to address the offensive line in any significant way during the offseason, and with that now looming large in having blown up this season, these are desperate times for the Giants.

Why Now?

Addressing the tackle position, at least by adding a veteran swing tackle to give the Giants a Plan B in the event of injury, is something we have been calling for since, well, roughly since last season ended.

The Giants didn’t. As I have written before, they chose flash over fundamentals and trusted that Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart would improve. That, to this point, has not happened.

Only four offensive tackles have surrendered more than the 4.5 sacks Flowers has given up. Flowers’ three accepted penalties is tied for 12th among tackles. His Pro Football Focus grade of 49.2 is tied for 46th. Seeing defenders run past him on the back side of running plays has become the norm.

Hart has a 36.6 PFF grade, tied for 67th among tackles. He has allowed three sacks and committed two penalties in two games. Judging Hart is a bit difficult because he played through an ankle injury in Week 1, but his work Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers was the opposite of stellar.

The problem with not signing a veteran swing tackle, or drafting a young player who was ready to play if needed, was shown when Hart was hurt. The Giants had to move Justin Pugh to right tackle. He did a good enough job, but moving him broke up the Pugh-Weston Richburg combo that is the best thing the Giants have going on the line, and weakened the guard spot.

How Would The Giants Use Albert?

That’s a good question, and the answer isn’t clear. In my view, there are three options.

  1. They could simply keep him on the roster as depth in the event of another injury to Hart or one to Flowers. The Giants like rookie Chad Wheeler, but they have made it apparent they really don’t believe he is ready for full-time duty.
  2. They could install Albert at right tackle once he has had time to learn the play book and get himself into playing shape. Albert, however, has always been a left tackle.
  3. They could install Albert at left tackle and move Ereck Flowers to the right side. That is the option that would make much of the fan base jump for joy, perhaps the organization at least showing that they are tossing in the towel on the idea of Flowers being the answer at left tackle. You can’t ask Flowers to move, though, without at least giving him some time to acclimate to the right side — which he hasn’t played since his freshman season at Miami. The Giants have a bye week coming up after their Week 7 game against the Seattle Seahawks, so perhaps that is a possibility.

Final Thoughts

We really don’t know what the Giants are thinking here, or if Albert will even be signed. It really is too little, too late - upgrading the offensive line should have been done months ago. Still, if it is a glimmer of acknowledgement that the Giants know they have to fix the offensive line to have any hope of being a functional football team then it’s a step in the right direction.

Better late than never, I guess.