Yes, the Giants can try to help Andrew Thomas.
Send a tight end over to his side. Assign a running back to chip the pass-rusher on his side.
There are ways to help the left tackle as he struggles through a brutal rookie season. No one expected him to be a world-beater a few games into his NFL indoctrination. The Giants, though, did not anticipate that so many defensive players would be Thomas-beaters. They believed they would get much more out of the No. 4-overall pick in the 2020 draft.
The Giants will help Thomas, when they can. And when Thomas is left on his own, the 21-year-old is going to have to suck it up and get it done, or else Daniel Jones will get leveled or the ball-carrier will get pummeled.
“It’s your job as the left tackle to block a defensive end in the NFL one-on-one,’’ offensive line coach Marc Colombo said Wednesday. “That’s why he’s here, that’s why he’s gonna hang around for a long time. You need to block that guy. We’ll help him out when needed. We’ll help other tackles out. We’ll help guards and centers out based on matchup. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to win more one-on-one reps than you lose. It’s pretty much what it comes down to. We put a lot on him, he knows that, and we’ll help when it’s appropriate.’’
This is hardly tough love. If the Giants truly wanted to turn up the heat on Thomas, they would sit him down. That is not happening, at least not now. He did not start against Washington — the only victory in this miserable season — as punishment for showing up late to a team meeting the night before the game. Thomas did start the past two games, losses to the Cowboys and Eagles, and, unless there is a change of heart, he will start Monday night against the Buccaneers.
Getting benched is warranted. Thomas has allowed six sacks and 37 pressures this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Thomas is getting beaten too often on the inside, is not using his hands as weapons and is not anchoring his feet underneath him.
He is a prized draft pick, though, and he will not be replaced unless he is such a detriment to the offensive operation that the health and well-being of teammates is compromised.
“Cross that path when we get to it,’’ Colombo said. “I don’t think we’re there yet. Any time he gets beat, the next play, he executes, he understands it, he doesn’t dwell on it. Now, if you had a rookie that dwelled on that type of thing and really got down, put his head down and wasn’t up for the challenge — that’s not the case with him. We don’t have that type of player.’’
Colombo said “three or four’’ reps Thomas took in the 22-21 loss to the Eagles were particularly bad, but the offense ran the ball better, protected Jones relatively well, and there was no groundswell to make a change at left tackle during the action.
“It wasn’t any point in that game where I said, ‘Oh, let’s try something different here,’ ’’ Colombo said. “That kind of didn’t go through my mind. I don’t think we’re at a point yet where that’s the case.’’
If the time comes when Thomas’ confidence is completely shaken, a move will have to be made. The alternatives are not enticing. Matt Peart is a promising but raw rookie who might get a shot at right tackle later in the season. The only other tackle on the roster, Jackson Barton, was a 2019 seventh-round pick of the Colts who spent time last season with the Chiefs. He has never appeared in an NFL game.
Colombo, a former NFL starting left tackle who is in his first year with the Giants after guiding the Cowboys’ offensive lines, is quick to praise Thomas’ attitude, but also willing to point out his flaws. He determined “everything really is, with Andrew right now, a timing issue.’’
It is not as if anyone is sitting back and waiting for Thomas to get it right. His steps are broken down and built back up in practice, but thus far it has not translated to the games. Colombo said he is trying to simplify as much as possible so that Thomas is not thinking too much and not suffering from paralysis by analysis.
“He’s gonna play here for a long time, and he’s gonna be a really good tackle,’’ Colombo said. “But that’s something that you’ve gotta fight through.’’
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