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Billy Price film study: Giants’ new center struggled in debut

NFL: New York Giants at Washington Football Team Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Starting on a short week against Washington’s defensive front at FedEx Field isn’t the easiest assignment for a player, but that’s what Billy Price had to do for the New York Giants last Thursday. After poor preseason interior line play and the retirements of Zach Fulton and Joe Looney, the Giants decided to trade for Price and Ben Bredeson.

Both Price and Bredeson saw significant action in Week 2. The former played 69 snaps, and the latter played 56. The assignments were challenging, and the play was substandard from both - Price maybe more so than Bredeson.

Price’s first start as a Giant didn’t go as planned against Jonathan Allen, DaRon Payne, and the rest of this Washington defensive front. According to Pro Football Focus, he surrendered five pressures, four hurries, and a sack. Some mistakes were communicative - like the first quarter sack where he “allowed” interior pressure.

(Billy Price is No. 69)

Will Hernandez (71) is uncovered at the snap, and Jon Bostic (53) doesn’t come on an A-Gap blitz. DaRon Payne (94) is aligned as a nose directly over the top of Price. Payne releases to his right, away from Hernandez. He extends Price laterally as the center does a solid job shooting his hands underneath Payne’s breastplate. Price oversets on Payne, expecting Hernandez’s help with the strong side A-Gap. However, Hernandez chips the 4-technique Matt Ioannidis (98). When Price goes to pass Payne towards Hernandez - he’s not there to receive. This could be a product of the lack of repetitions between the two.

Hernandez assists Nate Solder (76) with the 4i-shade on this play while Price is tasked to control the nose technique. Both Hernandez and Price seem to glance at Bostic and Cole Holcomb (55) during this play; the Football Team’s alignment of the backers slightly shaded off the rear-end of the defensive lineman could be interpreted as an incoming stunt/twist. Nevertheless, it appears as if Price assumed he had inside help. Price’s attention diverts to the linebacker after the double-swat from Payne; once Price realizes Bostic isn’t coming on the blitz, his attention is refocused back on Payne - but it’s too late.

It makes sense as to why Price needs to be cognizant of Bostic. The left side of the line’s assignments are defined; if Bostic came on the blitz, no one would pick him up if Saquon Barkley’s (26) pass protection assignment was towards the strong side. Barkley’s attention never goes to the A-Gaps, which makes me feel there could have been a miscommunication on the line here. It appears, if Washington blitzed, the Giants had four blockers for three defenders: Barkley, Smith, Solder, and Hernandez for Young, Ioannidis, and Holcomb. That would leave Price if blitzed with Bostic in an easy 2v1 situation. That didn’t end up happening, but it does appear Price may have expected help from either Hernandez or Barkley.

If that’s the case, it’s hard to entirely fault Price for mistakes that look egregious. While these two plays above may be a product of a few variables at fault, there are a few where Price is just beat off the snap and loses 1-on-1.

Against this front (W-4i-1-W), Price knows he’s matched against Tim Settle (97) to the boundary A-Gap. If he were to have help, it would be Nick Gates (65). Price’s center of gravity rises way too much in this play. Settle takes a wide step outside, subtly makes contact with his outside arm on Price’s outside shoulder, and then violently clubs the inside shoulder of Price to further the center’s momentum outside. Settle’s hands are quick, and the aiming point on the backside of the deltoid, underneath the shoulder pad, is superb. Price’s hips get turned and Settle a clear path into the pocket. Ironically enough, Ioannidis driving Hernandez into the backfield acted as its own block to shield Settle from Jones.

If you watch the clip closely, Price’s initial punch never lands. He extends himself to contact Settle, but this only puts him in a more vulnerable position. The missed punch (forces momentum forward) combined with the savvy hand usage from Settle displaces Price from maintaining relative position between the threat and Daniel Jones. Interior offensive linemen can’t allow this to happen consistently.

Bredeson (68) was in a position to help Price’s assignment - similar to the first two clips we witnessed. However, Price is just beat on this rep whether he expected help with Jonathan Allen (93) or not. Allen fits his hands inside on Price, giving a solid initial jolt upon contact. Allen easily gains access to Price’s chest. He then uses a push-pull/arm-over pass-rushing combination to create separation. Price’s hips are too high, and he has no grasp on Allen. Once Allen brings his inside arm over the top, Price’s momentum is coming forward because of the pull, so there’s no way he can shuffle his feet and stay in front of the defender. Suppose Bredeson waited to help Andrew Thomas (78) a split-second later. In that case, Allen may not have recorded this sack, but Price getting trounced by those pass-rushing moves isn’t encouraging.

There were plays, like the one above, where Price is playing confident football. He sits back on his hips, keeps his feet active, splits the midline of Payne with his right hand while using his left hand to combat/tie-up Payne. Price grasps and shuffles his feet with Payne’s path until the pass is completed to Smith. It’s a solid rep on a short route.

Price uses a similar outside arm stab to initiate contact on this play-action pass to Saquon Barkley. Price quickly gets his hand onto the midline of the defender while the defender simultaneously goes to snatch that arm downward. Price maintains contact and then brings his inside arm underneath the defender’s arm while shifting his weight and limiting the defender’s operational space to separate.

There may have been some mishaps between Hernandez and Price throughout the game, but Price gets the assist on this Hernandez pancake. The defender releases towards Hernandez’s outside shoulder. Price looks for work and helps Hernandez to the breakfast table.

This is a running play against Tim Settle - a solid rotational backup for Washington. Price initially struggles with Settle’s power and hand usage here. Price is flowing laterally on the zone-read; Settle explodes low to high and gets his hands into Price’s chest. Settle’s power and leverage lifts Price upward and gets the center out of position. Settle is able to position himself in the backside A-Gap after a good long-arm/arm-over move, but Price rebounds well on the play. Settle’s penetration upfield ends up working against him on the play. Price uses the defender’s positioning against him. After losing the battle at the point of attack from a power/leverage standpoint, Price is able to recollect, re-sink his hips, find the nearside hip of Settle and then drive the defensive tackle up and away from the B-Gap. It’s an excellent recovery from a poor-looking start to the play from Price.

Price was very susceptible to the arm-over move from these Washington defenders. As a run blocker against Payne at nose, he gets tossed to the ground. After snapping the ball, he leans into the block slightly at the waist. His balance wasn’t great in this game, to begin with, but Washington used this specific shedding move several times. When an offensive lineman leans too much, their momentum becomes a targets for a pull combination move - like this one above with the swim.

Price has to play through his base more. Generate more power through the ground upon attacking. The balance/leaning issues are correctable with discipline. Still, those technical flaws can arise with an offensive lineman with a third percentile wingspan and an 11th percentile arm-length (for interior offensive lineman).

Final thoughts

Price didn’t have the best first start as a GiNT. As illustrated above, some of his mistakes could have been a product of several factors, but there’s no denying that he struggled. Washington had success multiple times with a push-pull/arm-over combination against Price. The strength and drive off the football weren’t discernible, albeit against a good front. An extended week off should help this team rebound in a battle against the Falcons- the only game with two winless teams facing each other. Price and Bredeson will have an easier matchup, so we’ll see how effective they are for this offense after Week 3.