By William McInerney
The New York Giants did not make a lot of splashes this offseason, but they did make moves to bolster their depth. One of those moves was resigning veteran right guard John Jerry. The question is whether Jerry will start this season or be a veteran backup.
Last year Jerry was excellent in pass protection, but struggled in run protection. His struggles in run protection are typically a problem for a guard, as your guards are supposed to be your top end run blockers. The struggles in run blocking may prevent Jerry from being a starter on the Giants line this year.
The only player I could see replacing Jerry at guard is DJ Fluker, the lineman signed from San Diego in the offseason. However, Fluker has played both guard and tackle in the NFL, and could play either role with the Giants. Ultimately, I believe Fluker will start at right tackle with Jerry playing right guard this year for the Giants.
There are a few reasons why this is a likely scenario. The first is Fluker has been better as a guard than as a tackle. He’s played his best football at the right tackle position. The other thing to consider is if Fluker plays right guard, Bobby Hart would be in line to be the starting right tackle.
Jerry is a better guard than Hart is a tackle. Hart isn’t quite good enough to take on elite pass rushers 16 weeks a year. This isn’t a knock on him so much, as the fact that he’s a seventh-round pick still in the league going into his third year is a good thing. He just isn’t a guy I trust as a starting tackle.
The third reason Jerry starts at right guard is because the Giants need his pass protection more than they need a run paver. The Giants like to run the ball to the left side because Flowers and Pugh are a great run blocking combination (Flowers has struggled but he is a very good run blocker). They need more help in pass blocking, partially because they struggled last year and partially because Manning is 36 this season, and can’t keep taking the hits he did last year.
Getting a good pass blocker, especially with the struggles in that facet of the game at tackle, is very important. That’s why Jerry should, and ultimately will, start this year.