What Justin Pugh’s Return Means for the Giants Offense
By Joe Freer
It’s no secret that the New York Giants‘ offensive line has been their downfall in 2016. Left tackle Ereck Flowers has consistently struggled in pass protection and their only reliable blocker has been center Weston Richburg. The interior line, specifically at the guard positions, has been a revolving door and as a result has contributed to the inconsistent running game. However, with the return of fourth-year guard Justin Pugh, the Giants got a much needed boost they need.
No, Justin Pugh can’t completely overhaul a mediocre offensive line and a mediocre offense. Even with him returned to the lineup, the offense still has glaring holes. But what he can bring is a veteran presence who has the capability of playing at a high level and sustainability.
Pugh’s return should mostly impact his counterpart Ereck Flowers. Part of Flower’s recent struggles are due to the constant changes next to him. With all due to respect, having Adam Gettis and Marshall Newhouse next to a developmental tackle like Flowers will only slow down his progress.
This is not an excuse for Flowers’ poor technique, but with the left side of the line being so weak, opposing defenses are able to attack Flowers easier without a reliable partner on the inside. Pugh’s return wont make Flowers an all pro tackle, but it should ease some of his holding calls and misfires on pass protection.
"Pugh’s return wont make Flowers an all pro tackle, but it should ease some of his holding calls and misfires on pass protection”"
We should expect to see Pugh not only active, but starting Sunday against the Lions. He worked with the first team offense during practice; which he did not do leading up to his original anticipated return against Dallas last week.
With Pugh starting, the Giants have their core offensive line in tact for the first time since Week 9 against the Eagles. In that game, Eli Manning threw for four touchdowns.
The offense has yet to fully shine in 2016, but with with Pugh in the lineup the Giants average 339 yards per game. They average only 294 yards without him. As the weather turns cold at Metlife Stadium, and a December playoff push is on the horizon, the Giants need all the reinforcements they can get to improve their lackluster rushing attack.
As the year ends, a strong ground attack will be key to go deep into the NFC playoffs. Having Justin Pugh in the lineup should be a step closer for the Giants to achieve just that.
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