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“Nate’s the better player:” Why Nate Solder plays and Matt Peart doesn’t

OL coach Rob Sale says “we’re playing the best players.” Right now, Peart is not one of them.

NFL: New England Patriots at New York Giants
Nate Solder (left) and Matt Peart
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Why does Nate Solder play right tackle for the New York Giants while Matt Peart mostly sits, scraping up a few snaps as a jumbo tight end? Offensive line coach Rob Sale on Thursday gave about as direct an answer to that question as an NFL coach ever will.

“Plain and simple, you watch every play when Andrew (Thomas) was out, the body of work, Nate’s the better player right now,” Sale said.

“Matt’s had opportunities. We’re playing the best players that (we) think have a chance to give us a position to win. Nate, in my opinion, in our opinion, he’s playing better. Is he perfect, no. Nobody’s perfect, but he gives us the best chance to win.”

Head coach Joe Judge wasn’t as direct when asked the Peart-Solder question on Wednesday, but it was clear the Giants prefer Solder.

“We’re pleased with the way Nate’s really progressed throughout this year and how he’s playing for us right now,” Judge said. “He’s a guy who comes out and works tirelessly.”

The obvious question there is whether or not the Giants coaching staff has some issue Peart’s work ethic. So, I asked Sale if there was a problem with the way Peart works. His answer revealed a completely different issue.

“He goes in (with) the right mindset. He prepares the right way. He goes in the meeting room the right way. He’s always in the building,” Sale said. “At the end of the day it’s a violent game, you gotta go out there and slide and put your hands in the chest and play.

“It’s not going to be perfect all the time. Playing o-line you’re never going to be perfect, but you can cover the ground a lot by being physical, more effort, toughness, strength, all those intangibles that make the great ones great.”

Sale gave a simple one-word answer when asked what Peart needs to show to play more.

“Physical.”

The Pro Football Focus grades, which I always like to remind carry a degree of subjectivity and can’t used as definitive proof that one player is better than another, would disagree with the notion that Solder has been better than Peart.

Snaps played

Solder: 683
Peart: 241

Overall PFF grade

Solder: 55.7
Peart: 63.9

Pass blocking

Solder: 48.4
Peart: 61.3

Pass-blocking efficiency

Solder: 95.9
Peart: 96.1

Run blocking

Solder: 62.9
Peart: 63.6

NFL teams, though, don’t grade players the same way PFF does. While Judge has said he always thinks long-term, reality is he is 10-17 as Giants head coach and has no guarantees of a long-term future in that job if he doesn’t win some games in the present.

Solder is a 33-year-old in his 11th season who might not be in the NFL in 2022. Peart is a 24-year-old 2021 third-round pick considered a developmental tackle with starter-level ability when the Giants drafted him.

Sale cut off a reporter mid-future vs. present Solder vs. Peart question on Thursday.

“I get it, I know where you’re going with that question,” Sale said. “On valuable plays Nate gives us the best chance.”

So, there it is, Giants fans. The coaching staff believes Solder is the better player, and he will play until that changes.

Final thoughts

The biggest concern about this is not for the rest of this season. The biggest concern is that we know Solder is not the answer at right tackle for the Giants next season. This means the Giants are telling us they don’t believe Peart is the answer at that spot, either. That means yet another hole on the offensive line they will be looking to fill.