Andrew Thomas knows this because he has friends and family who alert him to such things. He is not looking for it himself. Thus, Thomas realizes that there is an analytical claim that he plays better than any other offensive tackle in the NFL.
That’s fine with him.
“But I try to take the same approach as if I were the worst therapist evaluated,” Thomas told The Post. “You have to take it with a grain of salt. They don’t know our scheme and things like that. Obviously I want to be one of the best teams in the league and I work every day to get better, no matter what the ratings might say. For me, the approval of my teammates And coaches and opponents, they probably mean more to me.”
With two games in, Thomas is playing at a level commensurate with his lofty NFL draft status – No. 4 overall in 2020. Thomas was well on his way to living up to expectations last season, despite a long-standing ankle problem that required surgery. Now, Thomas is healthy, and it shows. He was ranked first in offensive tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus, directly ahead of Rasawn Slater of the Chargers and well ahead of his first-round teammates Tristin Wirfs (11) and Jedrick Wills (58). Mekhi Becton (unrated) has never played for the Jets.
Thomas didn’t allow a sack on 61 pass block shots and he also didn’t allow a quarterback kick. His run score was 90.8 against the Panthers through the roof.
Thomas certainly doesn’t mind the praise. Who wouldn’t love to hear how well it does? He’s 23 – he’s the Giants’ youngest captain, as voted by his teammates – and wouldn’t sit there saying he’s not playing well when he is. Nor is he going to sit there and say he has arrived.
“Some things have to be cleaned up,” Thomas said. “I think I’m doing really well for the first time with a new attacking line, a new layout but definitely some things in the first two games, things I wish I could have taken back. I can be better at passing pro and some of my combinations in the running game. Always room for improvement.”
It wasn’t long before many in the league were quick to describe Thomas as a huge disappointment after struggling in the first half of his rookie year. It was also a common occurrence that the Giants team, who picked first, had the four worst coveted first-round tackles in 2020.
This is no longer common.
“I would say the experience helps,” said head coach Brian Daboll, who inherited Thomas more than test battles in the NFL in his third year. “You are going through some growing pains, I am sure he did, we all suffer. His mentality is that he is a very consistent and dependable person and that kind translates to the field.”
The challenges never end. Next, Thomas knows he has to deal with two exuberant elites when the Giants face the Cowboys Monday night at MetLife Stadium. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence had 25 sacks in a two-year stint (2017-18) before injuries set him back, and he’s always happy to abuse the players of the giant quarterbacks. Linebacker Micah Parsons is a phenomenon, with 17 sacks in his first 18 NFL games. Last season, when the Cowboys swept the two-game series, Thomas didn’t face Parsons much. Parsons mostly lined up on the left side or inside the Dallas defense. Perhaps Parsons would choose to test rookie player Evan Neal on the right tackle.
“We’re not sure exactly where it will be,” Thomas said. “You just have to prepare for everyone, all the runners that they have, all the different packages that they have. They just move around and try to have good fights so we can see where he plays.”
There are always rushers to tackle the edge. There are always holes and creases to be created in a running game. It’s the job description for offensive tackle, and with two games, Thomas executes it at a high level. Maybe even the highest level.
You want to be one of the best players in the game, but this is not the end, let it be all,” said Thomas. “We’re in week three, there aren’t a lot of balls left to play, so many other defenses I have to contend with, I’m just focused on getting better no matter what the ratings say.”