When the New York Giants signed former New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder to a four-year, $62 million free agent contract in March, many pundits and fans saw the move as one that would solve all of Big Blue’s offensive line woes.
One man, apparently, can’t do it all. Although Solder has brought a higher level of play to the unit, he feels the expectations and the bar may have been set a bit too high.
“I think it was a little bit of a set up in terms of the way it was all portrayed as, ‘This is the answer to all the problems,’” Solder told NJ Advance Media. “I never knew that because I’ve always worked hard and I’ve always tried to get better. I know what it was. Now people inside of this building start to understand what it is, too: That it’s never perfect. You are always working toward it and there are no superhuman people out there. We’re all doing the best we can.”
Solder has put in an average performance, ranking 22nd among the league’s left tackles this season, per Pro Football Focus. He’s had some nagging injuries, but that’s football. There have been other factors that he points to that he’s had to overcome.
“I think there were highs and lows,” Solder said. “Adjusting to a new system, adjusting to new people next to you, new coaches, all those sort of those things. It was certainly not perfect. I’ve got a long ways to go.”
The line has five new faces on it this season, but it has still struggled. It’s not the league’s worst, but it is still far from the best. Quarterback Eli Manning has been sacked a career-high 46 times this season.
Solder is no longer being charged with the savior role. The fans know it will take more than him to make the Giants’ offensive line what it once was during their recent Super Bowl years.
“People start settling in and having genuine expectations of what to expect from a person,” Solder said. “The other thing that’s really cool about our game that’s really difficult is we are all dependent on each other. A rising tide floats all both…When we are all playing well, we all look better and it covers over a multitude of sins when you are winning a lot of games. It really magnifies a lot of the things you are not doing well when you are struggling or not scoring points or moving the ball.”
Solder was just the first piece of a major rebuild by general manager Dave Gettleman. Rookie Will Hernandez was the second piece. In-season free agent pickup Jamon Brown could be the third.
This offseason, expect the Giants to find a new center and another quality tackle or two.