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This is the Andrew Thomas the Giants thought they were drafting.
Who was the NFL’s best rookie last week? Who was the best left tackle? Thomas is the answer to both questions, according to Pro Football Focus. Considering that same grading scale buried him early in the season, it’s easy to quantify progress.
Thomas stopped getting beat on inside moves by pass-rushers — and he stopped looking foolish.
“In the beginning, that was something I really struggled with,” Thomas said. “I would over-set a lot of times and put myself in a bad position. That’s something I’ve been working on over the last few weeks. I think that’s made the biggest difference. You have to trail your defender, trust your athleticism to push a guy around the pocket so you don’t give up the inside.”
Since bottoming out against the Eagles in Week 7, Thomas has allowed one sack in five games. He allowed a NFL-high 39 pressures in his first eight games and just five in the last four, including back-to-back zero-pressure games.
Improvement started under former offensive line coach Marc Colombo and continued after the bye-week switch to Dave DeGuglielmo. Thomas said the teaching points are not a “drastic change,” but he is “just getting better.”
Hand placement is one technical change. Here’s another: Thomas was set on a 45-degree angle at Georgia, where protections slide and the left guard could atone for his mistakes. He is committed to a more vertical set.
“We run a little bit different protection here and the way we spot and set was going to be different,” Thomas said. “I had to break that habit. Obviously, going against more talented rushers has an effect on that, too. They read your hips.”
If Thomas becomes a franchise left tackle, his early-season rookie struggles will be a blip on the radar. But he will never forget what he learned under criticism if praise pours in.
“You have to keep a level head,” Thomas said. “Coach talks about ignoring the noise and continuing to work like it’s your first day. I knew coming to play for the New York Giants, it’s a huge media market, there’s social media, all those things. I wasn’t unaware. Actually being in it, it’s definitely a different experience.”