The Giants’ decision to stand pat on the offensive line this offseason was questioned by many outside observers and the reason why was on display against the Lions on Monday night.
Pass rushers flowed through the Giants line without much resistance, leading to five sacks and a dysfunctional offense that has given the team little chance to win either of its first two games. Three of those sacks came from Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who battered left tackle Ereck Flowers all night.
Flowers has long been a focal point for criticism of the Giants offensive line and things will only get worse after Monday night even with one of his teammates stepping up in an attempt to deflect some of the blame. Justin Pugh didn’t try to do the impossible and say Flowers played well, but he did say that he wasn’t the only one to play poorly and shouldn’t bear the entire loss on his back.
“In the NFL, it’s tough to play tackle. I can tell you that firsthand,” Pugh said, via Newsday. “Playing tackle in the NFL is very, very hard. Everyone wants to come and take shots at Ereck, and that’s trying to kick somebody when they’re down. He knows he didn’t do what he was supposed to do tonight. He’s 23 years old going out there and trying to do everything he can. …It hurts me to see one of my teammates and someone I, like, try to help out, to see him get beat up like that. I didn’t play great. Go put my film on. It’s five guys. We can help him out. We can do a better job. We can run the ball better. When it comes to offensive line plays, it’s all five of us, it’s not one person. So if you are going to come and bash us, don’t bash one guy.”
Pugh’s not wrong about everyone deserving blame, but left tackles stand out on offensive lines the same way quarterbacks stand out on offenses. Flowers’ fitness for the left tackle spot has been debated since the Giants picked him in the first round of the 2015 draft and, 23 or not, the evidence that he’s not fit for the job has become impossible to ignore for anyone who isn’t Giants General Manager Jerry Reese.
That’s left Flowers as the only choice to fill the role on the roster and the Giants suffered for it against the Lions.