One of the biggest stories throughout training camp for the New York Giants has been the performance of left tackle Ereck Flowers. He reportedly had an up-and-down camp, followed by a fine first preseason game with limited action, followed by a few rough days of practice.
Monday night against the Cleveland Browns was the second shot for Flowers in the preseason to show the hype about his offseason training had paid off.
For much of the night, Flowers was lined up against the 2017 first overall pick, Myles Garrett.
The good news is there were no game-breaking plays for Garrett, or any defender, against Flowers. Garrett did get a sack late in the second quarter, but that was mostly a coverage sack and not an egregious blown block from the left tackle.
However, there were a few plays that could continue to raise concern about Flowers’ ability to hold fort against top level pass rushers. There were more than a few times when Garrett worked his way through Flowers with the Giants’ left tackle getting his arm up high against the defender. None of the plays were called for holding, which is good, but they were borderline blocks that easily could have drawn a flag.
The first came on the Giants’ first pass play of the game. Flowers aligned slightly wide of the rest of the line — something he did on a few occasions during the game, possibly to compensate for Garrett’s speed. Garrett gets the corner on Flowers and the tackle can only get his outside arm to wrap around him. Luckily the grab didn’t take Garrett to the ground, which probably would have been called a penalty and Eli Manning was able to get the pass off.
Even Flowers’ productive pass reps weren’t all great. On the 21-yard pass to Evan Engram, Flowers was pushed back by Garrett, but was able to stay in front of him the whole time. Garrett was the one of initiate contact and got his arms extended first, but while Flowers gave ground backwards, he was able to contain Garrett.
Later in the second quarter, there was a great example of the speed mismatch between Flowers and Garrett. The Giants had Engram lined up to the left of Flowers on the line. Cleveland brought six players to the line of scrimmage with Garrett wide to the left, to the outside of Engram. At the snap, Engram went out for a pass and Flowers was tasked with getting out to stop Garrett. Flowers barely got there and Manning had to step up in the pocket and the result was an incomplete pass. Flowers had to go into full retreat mode in order to get to Garrett — not a position of strength in pass protection — and again his hands finished up high.
So while no plays were truly derailed by Flowers’s play, it wasn’t exactly a standout performance for the third-year player. Sadly, that might be something the Giants will take right now considering how often the opposite was true during his first two years in the league. However it’s clear for Flowers to be relied on in a consistent basis, there’s still much work that needs to be done.