That is how most of Andrew Thomas’s preseason had gone. And that was a good thing because Thomas, the New York Giants second-year left tackle on whom so much is riding, had been doing his job. It’s the ‘you only notice the offensive line when it screws up’ theory.
Well, Sunday night was LOUD for Thomas. Car crash loud. And it had to be disturbing for the Giants, who can’t win games if Thomas is as awful as he was on Sunday. I had him unofficially surrendering 1.5 sacks, a pair of pressures and committing a holding penalty. Pro Football Focus called it two sacks, a quarterback hit and “multiple other lost reps.”
No matter the final tally, the reality is it wasn’t good. It was downright awful.
Josh Uche beat Thomas to the outside for a sack of Daniel Jones on the game’s third play. Jnes might have been able to avoid that sack had left guard Ted Larson also not gotten pushed back into his lap, but Thomas wasn’t competitive on the play.
On the Giants’ second series, Thomas surrendered a quarterback hit when Christian Barmore beat him to the inside, then half a sack (Nate Solder got ‘credit’ for the other half) when Barmore beat him again.
“I started off a little slow,” Thomas said after the game. “There are some things I’ve got to improve on; my hand placement, staying wide on my set and keeping the depth with the pocket.”
The disturbing this is that Thomas spent much of last season, coached by Marc Colombo and then Dave DeGuglielmo, talking about needing to iron out similar technical issues. A year later, with Rob Sale as offensive line coach, he talking like he still doesn’t have those things ironed out.
“I think I made improvements (from last season), but there are a lot of things that I still need to work on,” Thomas said. “I’m trying to fix those things in camp, just hand placement and just being very consistent in my set. Sometimes I do it the right way, sometimes it might not be to my liking. I’m just trying to be as consistent as possible.
“When I watch film, the first thing I look at is just my set because, in my mind, I’m setting to a spot, not necessarily looking at the rusher. I look at that and see if I’m square at the spot and then after that, I look at my hand placement and then I think on the first one today, I was just trying to stay squared as long as possible and not opening up on my third kick is the biggest thing.”
Thomas was the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the first offensive tackle taken when three others (Mekhi Becton, Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills) were also possibilities. It has to be distressing that a player once thought to be the best collegiate offensive tackle in the country seems so concerned about where to put his hands and feet, and so unable to consistently get them where they need to be to protect his quarterback.
Judge refused to be critical of Thomas.
“There’s a lot of things sometimes you look at and it may look like one player and the entire scheme and concept of how things are being put together and it’s not always on that one player’s shoulders,” Judge said. “I’m going to watch the tape and make sure I make the correct assessment before I go ahead and say something publicly.”
Until Sunday evening’s massive step backwards, Thomas did appear to be progressing after giving up the second-most pressures (57) of any tackle and grading as the fifth-worst pass protector among 59 qualifying tackles.
“I think overall, he’s done a solid job for us,” Judge said. “He’s keep on improving. He’s going to be a better player a month from now, two months from now and the end of the season, he’s got to keep on improving as a young player in this league and making strides going forward.”
The simple truth is, though, that once the games begin to count on Sept. 12 against the Denver Broncos the Giants can’t afford for Thomas to have nights like he did on Sunday.