Many fans and media scoff when coaches give the defensive answer of “have to check the tape” before they pass judgment on a player publicly. Tape study, however, often reveals much more than the human eye can detect while viewing live events. Creating narratives too quickly opens up Pandora’s Box, especially in player evaluation, and can be difficult to turn around. This piece will attempt to change the narrative for one player, for it is still known in some parts of the world, “The Eye in the Sky Never Lies”.
Patrick Omameh played right guard for 34 snaps in the New York Giants’ win over the New York Jets on Friday night. Beat reporters and broadcasters deemed that it was a pretty horrible night for the 6’4″, 327 lb lineman. The Giants only managed to muster one net yard rushing in the starting lineup’s first-half play and, naturally, a scapegoat was needed for the offensive line. Even Pro Football Focus, presumably reviewing the tape after the game, provided the below pass blocking and run blocking grades for the line:
#Giants offensive line pass blocking grades vs. the Jets:
LT Solder- 88.6
LG Hernandez- 86.2
C Halapio- 82.3
RG Omameh- 33.5
RT Flowers- 56.4#BigBlue
— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) August 26, 2018
#Giants offensive line run blocking grades from last night:
LT Solder- 70.3
LG Hernandez- 66.9
C Halapio- 55.3
RG Omameh- 51.2
RT Flowers- 56.5#BigBlue
— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) August 25, 2018
“It’s still trust, but verify … It’s still watch closely, and don’t be afraid to see what you see” – Ronald Reagan
Taking a deeper look at the first half tape (not just because of PFF skepticism, but of a need to understand why the rushing issues exist), as stated above, Omameh played 34 snaps at right guard. We graded all 34 plays (10 runs, 24 passes) on a scale of 1-7, mimicking certain scouting schools (in this case, the Scouting Academy, where the author is enrolled), with 1 being a poor grade and 7 being an elite grade. The math on Omamhe’s average is somewhat surprising, with an average passing grade of 4.125 and run grade of 3.7. Thus, his play is deemed just above solid in pass protection, and a bit below solid in the run game. However PFF’s rankings work, Omameh’s grade there was certainly way below solid. Take a look at the distribution of play grades:
Let’s get the bad news out there first and dive into those two poor plays and two marginal plays. See the below compilation of Omameh’s four plays with corresponding grades:
The aspects he struggled with on these four plays were: recognition of stunts and change of direction (play 1), lateral movement in an angle set to his right (play 2), far reach block to his left (play 3), balance through contact in base block (play 4). The balance through contact and recognition of line games are aspects he needs to improve. Context is needed for the other struggles, however, and please note contexts are not excuses, but needed background. Omameh is moving from his recent left guard position to right guard with new offensive line coach Hal Hunter overseeing. This transition is by no means impossible as he has played right guard before, but with it comes certain pains. This particularly applies to lateral movement, where his muscle memory needs to improve moving to his right as he sets against speed rushers. He simply has not been asked to kickslide to his right in recent history. Another context that should be noted is in play 3, where the block required him to travel over a gap away to his left against a DT who was shooting immediately downhill. This is a difficult assignment where smaller sized, nimble guards specializing in zone blocking thrive, and Omameh is simply not that kind of player.
These four plays stood out in a subset of 34 reps in a preseason game. His 18 grades of solid and nine grades of good, however, stood out a lot more. Omameh displays consistently solid-to-good get off at the snap with a very sturdy stance and bend. He looks natural in both pass protection and run blocking. In run specifically, he shows good pad level through engagements, with the power to move most defensive linemen in combination ace and deuce blocks. For his size, he travels well to the second level, taking good angles versus smaller linebackers, and makes contact often (this is not as easy as it sounds). In pass protection, he looks most comfortable in jump sets (moving forward to his defender), and solid in angle sets. If he gets on a defender early, he often nullifies any rush. He shows solid athleticism with the ability to anchor against most foes he faces.
What does this look like? Without showing the bulk of the 27 plays that were graded solid or better, the highlights are below:
The above four plays illustrate a snippet of what Omameh can give a team on a consistent basis, especially in pass protection, where Manning was freed up to go 17-of-23 for 188 yards in the first half. The yardage gained was often secured by a good pocket on Manning’s front side or the right side of the line. Credit should also be given to infamous right tackle Ereck Flowers, who had his best game of the preseason in pass protection. Naysayers will make the point that the Jets pass rush is not as formidable as, for example, the Giants’ in-division foes such as the Eagles and Redskins. Although that may be the case, the bottom line is head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula put their players in the best position to succeed. One thing that is vastly overlooked by media and fans is what happens in play action (where last year Shurmur’s Vikings offense ran play action 30% of the time, most in the league). See the below aerial breakdown of a play action pass set:
In play action, the linemen set as if the play is a run. This is a big reason why play action is so important, not just the effect on the 2nd and 3rd tier of the defense, but what it allows its linemen to do to the first tier. Omameh is at his best when moving downhill and quickly getting on defenders, where it allows him to both gain ground and play long with a good stance. The point here is Omameh and his linemates will not be asked consistently to execute where they are weakest. If anything, this is the hallmark of a Pat Shurmur offense.
“Goodness, or Badness?” -Judge Smails, Caddyshack
In conclusion, the right side of the line continues to improve, and the real test will come against the Jacksonville Jaguars in a couple of weeks. The above analysis concludes that Omameh is a solid starter on the right side of the line, where he uses his get off and size to his best ability in both run and pass. His overall balance through contact is an issue, and he is working through a transition to right guard, where he needs mental processing and agility to speed rushes to come around. Like many on this offensive line, he is by no means perfect. Proper, detailed analysis is required to avoid knee-jerk reactions that exist in this 240 character world. He and all of the Giants will make mistakes in the regular season, but ultimately, the proper judge should be the Eye in the Sky, not Judge Smails.