3 young NY Giants offensive players who must step up in 2021

New York Giants offensive guard Will Hernandez (Mandatory Credit: Kena Krutsinger-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants offensive guard Will Hernandez (Mandatory Credit: Kena Krutsinger-USA TODAY Sports) /
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The NY Giants’ offense, despite a season that began with optimism as quarterback Daniel Jones entered his second NFL season and Jason Garrett arrived as offensive coordinator, was among the most disappointing units in recent memory.

As Jones regressed dramatically, completing 62.5 percent of his passes for just 2,943 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, his supporting cast offered little support and the Giants finished with the NFL’s 31st ranked scoring offense.

In an era where offensive firepower reigns supreme and is critical to championship contention, the NY Giants averaged just 17.5 points per game, were one of just two teams (the Jets being the other) to average fewer than 300 yards per game, and were one of just four teams with fewer than 200 passing yards per game.

It’s difficult to win that way. Even with a top-15 defense, as the Giants’ boasted in 2020.

If the Giants are going to make even incremental steps towards returning to the postseason for the first time since 2016, these three young players on offense must step up in 2021, in a big way: 

LG Will Hernandez

Will Hernandez, chosen in the second-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, seemed to quickly fall out of favor with Joe Judge, Garrett, and the new coaching staff.

It didn’t help that the Giants went through two offensive line coaches and will have a third in 2021 with Rob Sale’s arrival, but Hernandez could be facing a make-or-break season ahead.

Hernandez was supplanted in the starting lineup by rookie Shane Lemieux, who was utterly disappointing, finishing the season with a 32.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, and a 16.9 pass blocking grade as the Oregon alum allowed five sacks and 25 pressures in 504 total snaps.

Yet, the coaching staff viewed Lemieux as a better option than Hernandez.

There is a legitimate chance that veteran guard Kevin Zeitler is released as a cap casualty, which would give Hernandez the opportunity to push for either the starting left or right guard role, presuming the Giants don’t sign a marquee free agent at the position. However, regardless of where he plays, Hernandez will need to be much better than he was in 2020, with 58.1 overall record with 25 pressures and one sack allowed in 525 snaps.