Andrew Thomas is the best offensive tackle in the NFL after two games. At least, Pro Football Focus says the New York Giants’ left tackle is.
Thomas, the third-year tackle taken No. 4 overall by the Giants in 2020, has a PFF grade of 89.1 thru two games. Rashawn Slater (83.4) is No. 2.
Thomas’s 88.3 run blocking grade is third among tackles thus far. His 82.8 pass blocking grade is fifth among tackles with at least 10 pass blocking snaps. Thomas has given up four pressures in 77 pass blocking snaps.
For Thomas, it appears that his climb toward becoming an elite player is continuing. In a miserable rookie season, Thomas gave up the second-most pressures of any tackle (57) in 2020. Since about the middle of that rookie season, though, Thomas’s play had continued to improve.
Thomas was solid last season, finishing 17th among 54 qualifying tackles, according to PFF’s grading system.
Thomas is always compared to the other three offensive tackles the Giants could have selected with that fourth overall pick. It is clear now that there are two tiers in that group — Thomas and Tampa Bay Buccaneers right tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first tier, and Jedrick Wills and Mekhi Becton in the second.
“I don’t take Andrew for granted,” offensive line coach Bobby Johnson said last week. “When you have a player of his caliber you can’t take it for granted. I see all the stuff he does leading up to the game. I see all the preparation, all the questions, all the work he puts in.”
That work is certainly paying off.
If you thought watching Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers that the issues the Giants were having along the offensive line were coming from the interior, the Week 2 PFF grades confirmed that.
The three lowest-graded offensive players were guard Mark Glowinski (50.2), center Jon Feliciano (39.9) and guard Joshua Ezeudu (22.3). Ben Bredeson graded at an acceptable 63.1, validating why he played 56 snaps to Ezeudu’s 17.
‘True to his word’
“Whether it’s the highest-paid player, the lowest-paid player, the highest draft pick, an undrafted free agent – we’re going to go out there and let the guys compete it out. One week doesn’t necessarily mean this is what’s going to happen the next week. I think everybody understands what we are trying to do as an organization in terms of continuing to get better, competing for spots, working as hard as you can work.”
That was head coach Brian Daboll on Monday, once again addressing the fact that highly-paid Kenny Golladay played two snaps vs. Carolina while David Sills (67 snaps) and Richie James played 31.
New coaches always talk about building a culture. Winning games, of course, helps build that culture. Players being able to trust that what they hear from the coach is the truth also helps. Giants players are buying what Daboll is selling.
“When something is said like that you could see that as lip service, I guess. Like, ‘Yeah we get it, there’s certain things that are also in affect,’ but he stayed true to his word and that’s what it is,” Julian Love said. “We want guys to be prepared, we want guys to be as ready and we have as much confidence in them going into games as we can. Practice is important, and he puts an emphasis on practice. If you have a bad day, you’ve got to get it turned around, you got to get it corrected. We all have bad days so that’s just what it is. He’s staying true to his word, and I respect that. He’s staying fair.”
Here are a couple of things I noticed while re-watching the condensed version of Giants vs. Panthers. As always, a reminder that I don’t pretend to be able to watch and break down film the way Nick Falato and Chris Pflum can.
- One thing I am learning about Wink Martindale’s defense is that his idea of pressure is not necessarily sending six rushers at the quarterback. It’s the idea of, whether he is sending four, five or six, creating confusion at the line of scrimmage so the offense is uncertain at the snap which rushers are coming.
- Martindale has talked a lot about the seemingly simple act of running to the football being a key part of playing defense. There were three ‘hustle’ plays Sunday by the Giants that illustrated that
— Love tackled Christian McCaffrey from behind for a 6-yard gain on a first quarter screen pass.
“I was on my rear end. I fell on the ground plain and simple, but you just get up and you just play free,” Love said. “Maybe in the past I might’ve thought like, ‘Oh my gosh they’re going to hate that on film.’ But there is none of that, you get up and you make a play because the teams depending on you just to really play loose and play free.”
— On a third-and-4, 340-something pound Dexter Lawrence chased down a scrambling Baker Mayfield short of a first down.
— McCaffrey’s 49-yard fourth-quarter run looked like it might end up as a 75-yard touchdown. Cornerback Fabian Moreau was, though, able to run McCaffrey down.
“Gave us another chance,” said defensive tackle Justin Ellis. “Wink, that’s one thing, I’ve been with him for four years now, and that’s one thing he always preaches. Just get them down on the ground, give us a chance to play another snap. Just get him down on the ground, even if it’s a big gain, just get him down on the ground.”
Jaylon Smith returns
He might end up having no impact at all on the 2022 Giants, but I was glad to see the Giants re-sign Smith to their practice squad. I thought that, while he isn’t the athlete he was in his days at Notre Dame, Smith showed enough play-making and coverage ability in his brief time with the Giants last season to have earned a chance to compete for a job this year.
The Giants did not, initially, give him that chance. He has it now, and I won’t be surprised if he works his way into a game day role.