Giants’ Young Offensive Linemen Struggle in Primetime

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

After a few weeks of strong football that even their strongest detractors could respect, the New York Giants offensive reverted back to its stagnant form fans have grown all too accustomed to over recent years. Eli Manning was sacked four times on the evening, with two alone coming from Washington Redskins defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.

The run game, which likewise gained traction over recent weeks, additionally suffered, as the longest Giants carry went a mere 11 yards. Overall, the Giants only tallied 170 yards of offense on the night, 36 of which came on a desperate final drive en route to a 20-10 loss to the Redskins.

“Our offense, we have a long way to go. We didn’t play well tonight,” head coach Ben McAdoo said. “There were some times we were physical in the ball game running the football, but certainly too many hits on the quarterback.”

Spotlighted in the debacle was the right side of the line, as tackle Chad Wheeler was joined by guard Jon Halapio, the latter of whom was making his first career NFL start. Wheeler earned praise last Sunday against Kansas City for shutting down the fearsome Justin Houston, but struggled against fellow elite pass rusher Kerrigan. 

“Give credit to (the Redskins),” Wheeler said afterwards. “They had an excellent game plan and they made plays. So, we just didn’t make plays.”

Halapio acknowledged his first NFL start did not go the way he intended, though he was pleased to finally take meaningful snaps in a regular season NFL game. A sixth-round pick of New England in 2014, the Florida alum spent nearly all last season on the Giants’ practice squad before joining the active roster on October 4.

“It felt good to finally reach that milestone in my career,” Halapio said. “I think it went well. Chad is a guy I’ve worked with throughout camp, on the left side. We just flipped over to the right side. So me and Chad, we had good chemistry.”

Both Wheeler and Halapio missed the veteran prescience of DJ Fluker in the lineup. Forced to sit out due to a toe injury, Fluker was inactive for the Thanksgiving debacle.

“He did a good just helping my with my sets,” Halapio said. “He showed technique stuff, how to study film.”

Wheeler agreed, affectionately referring to Halapio as “Pio”, lamenting only that the pair didn’t play to their full potential.

The young duo will now get an extended chance to work on their chemistry, as the Giants next play on December 3 for an interconference showdown with Oakland (4:25 PM, CBS).

“What I learned today is just my first step,” Wheeler said. “I have to trust my set and stay square.”