If there is a silver lining to the New York Giants start this year, it is that they finally seem to have some grasp on pass protection. It did little good as they fell to 0-4 following Sunday’s loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even as they kept their quarterback upright.
The first two games of the year saw the Giants lose — consensus held — because of poor offensive line play. Now in their last two games, both of which ended on game-winning field goals by their opponent, the Giants seem to have cleaned up at least part of their issues with pass protection. And it may not all be scheme; it might actually be improved play from the group.
This Sunday in Tampa Bay, quarterback Eli Manning held onto the ball a bit longer than he did in Week 3. According to Pro Football Focus, a week ago at the Philadelphia Eagles, Manning released the ball on average 1.84 seconds after the snap. This was the fastest release time in the NFL a week ago and likely was scheme based to get the ball out of his hands quickly before the pocket collapsed around him.
Manning, after all, had taken some really big hits in the Giants first two games.
This week, PFF notes that Manning’s release time of 2.47 seconds was mid-table among all NFL starting quarterbacks. But even as he held onto the ball a shade longer, the protection was good.
Ryan Smith of Pro Football Focus said that Manning “faced pressure on 10 of 52 dropbacks or 19.2 percent of the time.” This number, he says, was third best in the league for an offensive line.
Individually, the Giants offensive line graded out rather well. Playing out of position at right tackle, Justin Pugh received an impressive 85.3 grade from PFF, best among all offensive linemen on the team.
Pugh allowed just a single hurry on 53 passing downs with Smith also nothing that Pugh’s “run blocking grade of 81.5 was also the highest among all seven offensive linemen.”
Good news for the beleaguered offensive line, but not good enough to mask the issues on this Giants team.