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OL Shane Lemieux: The Good, the Great, and the Ugly

It was a mostly solid first year for Giants offensive lineman Shane Lemieux. Nick Falato looks at what he did well and where he needs to improve.
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For the second year in a row, the New York Giants found a player in the fifth round capable of playing a high percentage of snaps for them in the coming season. In 2019, wide receiver Darius Slayton exploded onto the field and proved himself as a reliable resource for the Giants moving forward.

Then New York selected Shane Lemieux in the subsequent 2020 draft, and he was thrust into a starting role after incumbent Will Hernandez contracted COVID-19. Lemieux provided value in the run game with his point of attack strength and his superior competitive toughness. He was also a quicker mover as a backside pulling guard on the GT/GF counter runs that the Giants frequently used.

It’s early in Lemieux’s career, but he struggled mightily in pass protection, especially when he was attacked early with power moves. These struggles led to the worst Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade among all the guards; the film, unfortunately, substantiated this--it wasn’t good.

In 299 pass-blocking snaps, he surrendered five sacks and 25 pressures, 14 of them on true pass sets. His inability to secure the interior parts of the line was an issue for Jones since he took over the starting job in week 8. Hernandez was still getting up to three series a game, but Lemieux was out snapping him.

This coaching staff valued Lemieux’s ability to pull into space with authority, locate contain defenders (the unblocked EMOLOS, end man on the line of scrimmage). I believe there was a better rapport with Andrew Thomas on DEUCE double-team climb blocks, even in the stunt/twist pick-up game.

There are certainly reasons to be concerned about Lemieux heading into the 2021 season, but it’s also very plausible that he grows and develops into a more sturdy and reliable lineman. If he doesn’t correct the mistakes in pass protection, then he’ll have to move aside because he’s way too much of a liability in that area as of 2020. Before we look at that side of his game, let’s break down the positives of Lemieux’s tape in this edition of the Good, the Great, and the Ugly.

(Shane Lemieux is No. 66)

The Good: Solid Base Run Blocker

This block is heavily assisted by Andrew Thomas (No. 78). It’s a double team on the 2-technique in a double Y formation where the Giants attempt to run off the backside of the tight ends who are washing everyone down.

Runs out of shotgun that are towards the running back’s alignment are a bit more difficult to pull off, but the Giants get a good chunk of yardage here.

Lemieux keeps his elbows tight off the snap and gets his hands inside the breastplate of Javon Hargrave (No. 93). Lemieux is in good positioning initially and then gets a chip from Thomas, which throws Hargrave off balance; then, Lemieux finishes the block with authority by falling on top of Hargrave.

This is a superior short-yardage block from Lemieux. In a goalline situation, the Giants bring in Matt Peart (No. 74) to be an extra lineman.

The 2-technique attempts to slant and get horizontal in the A-Gap. Still, Lemieux meets him, cuts him in half, and then drives his feet while angling his body and turning himself away from the B-Gap, effectively eliminating the defender from the play. Then he drives and finishes the block well.

Now we see a DEUCE double team with Thomas where Lemieux is the player to climb and locate. The Buccaneers have two of the best linebackers in the NFL, Devin White (No. 45) and Levante David (No. 54).

Both are excellent at reading their keys and shooting their gaps in Todd Bowels’ aggressive defense. Lemieux does a very good job keeping his eyes on David as he chips the 4i-technique.

He then focuses on David and comes off the DEUCE to locate the penetrating linebacker in the hole. Lemieux meets David on the outside part of his hip, and then he just turns his body, creating a narrow rushing lane in the B-Gap. This allows Alfred Morris (No. 41) to squeeze through that gap and pick up a few extra yards.

The path of the penetrating linemen assists Lemieux with the effectiveness of his block, but I still respect Lemieux’s lower-leg drive and hand placement here.

He gets his inside hand on the breastplate and the outside hand on the small of the defender's back. Then he drives his legs through and washes the defender down the line of scrimmage to develop an open path for the running back.

The Great: Pulling

Here’s Lemieux’s first start against the Buccaneers, and again he meets Lavonte David in the hole--only this time it’s a different type of run. This is a shotgun power/gap run to the six-hole. See how Lemieux keeps his pull tight to the butts of his fellow linemen, almost in a disguised manner.

When David presents himself, Lemieux attacks his outside shoulder aggressively with his outside shoulder, which allows Lemieux to utilize the rest of his body to seal the gap inside. Lemieux absorbs the contact, uncoils his hips through the block, and forces David to go around him instead of to the inside.

This results in a one-on-one matchup between the alley defender and Wayne Gallman (No. 22). Great work from Lemieux against top competition.

The Giants are in 13-personnel, double Y to the backside, and they run GF counter with the backside guard (Lemieux) and the sniffer (Kaden Smith, No. 82) pulling to the front side of the play to lead block for Morris.

It’s Lemieux’s job to kick out the unblocked EMOLOS (Jason Pierre-Paul, No. 90) and if the defender doesn’t present himself, to wrap around and find the most dangerous player.

It’s Smith’s job to go inside of the kick-out block and eliminate the next defender as a lead blocker off the back of Matt Peart’s (No. 74) double-team down block.

Lemieux again makes contact with Pierre-Paul’s inside shoulder and uses his body to shield the former Giant from the targeted gap. Great job by Lemieux, and Evan Engram (No. 88) does a really good job getting in Pierre-Paul’s way early in the down.

Here is a similar counter run from 12-personnel with Lemieux locating the unblocked defender Matthew Judon (No. 99) while Smith locates the aggressive linebacker in the hole. Gallman sees the penetration and hits the cut-back lane for a small gain. Lemieux keeps his pull tight, it’s quick, and his location skills are solid.

The GF counter is a staple of the Giants playbook, but they, at times, will also employ a G-Lead play where the frontside guard pulls outside to lead block.

They do it from 22-personnel, and Lemieux does a good job getting outside and locating the contain defender coming to fill. He drives him completely out of the play, which is expected from this matchup.

Here’s a similar G-Lead play where he gets outside and locates again versus the Seahawks. Lemieux does a very good job staying square to his target, subtly adjusting if necessary, and then locating with power.

The Giants and Lemieux also successfully ran the football with GT counter (guard/tackle) when the defensive front allowed it. Their different iterations of counter and power/gap made the Giants a more efficient and overall better running team late in the season. Lemieux was a part of this transition.

According to Football Outsiders, the Giants ranked 11th in rushing DVOA (defense adjusted value over league average) in 2021; this was, in part, due to Lemieux.

The Ugly: Pass Protection

I don’t think there’s a way to sugarcoat it at all: Lemieux was poor as a pass blocker last year. He routinely made physical mistakes that put Daniel Jones into many precarious situations. This is most concerning when it happens right at the snap.

Lemieux has a bad angle to lunge against this 4i-technique. He misses the initial contact with his outside arm and tries to recoil, but the defender gets to the back of his tricep with his hand and forces Lemieux’s momentum forward.

Lemieux’s feet aren’t confident or firm with the ground, and his inside foot comes up, which turns his hips towards the outside and provides an alley into the pocket. Luckily, Nick Gates (No. 65) is there looking for work.

Lemieux sets outside here goes for the double punch with a slight forward lean, and then gets beat inside. Sheldon Richardson (No. 98) hits Lemieux with a good club/swim combination. Luckily, Richardson is a bit slower, but it forces Jones to dump the ball off quickly.

This is another quick swim move right off the snap that puts Lemieux on the ground. His feet aren’t set, and there’s a slight lean into the block that leaves Lemieux open for these pass-rushing moves.

He’s a bit too eager and has to be a little more patient or refined with his technique on getting his mitts to the center mass of the pass rusher. Gates was there to luckily help bail him out.

Gates gets enough of this strong inside rush move from the 4i-technique to slow him down. But again, Lemieux goes to set and gets beat badly inside.

He may be aware that he could have help from Gates, but this kind of loss sticks out. Misses the punch, gets visibly moved by the power strike, has to flip his hips completely to stop the pressure, and this type of relatively unabated pressure is going to distract Jones from seeing downfield.

Ndamukong Suh (No. 95) goes with a quick double swipe move to the outside part of Lemieux, which forces a hip to hip relationship where Suh easily separates from the rookie guard.

Lemieux shows less than desirable play strength, questionable framing ability, and a poor handling of a power rush move from the initial parts of the pass-rushing rep.

BONUS: The Good of Lemieux’s Pass Protection

I’ll be the first to critique Lemieux’s shortcomings as a pass protector, but there were good moments as well…

Lemieux does a good job with his anchor here, and he also readjusts his hands underneath the arms of the pass rusher, providing the young blocker a more firm and stable control of the defender. 

Lemieux does a better job in pass protection when he can stay square and make initial contact, but his short arms force him to lunge forward, which leaves his balance as a liability.

He makes initial contact with his inside hand above and then keeps the defender in front of him while adjusting his hands. He gets both hands underneath the hand, fighting to establish contact on the lower chest while shimming his weight and feet in front of the defender’s path.

We see a slight lean here, but the space isn’t as far for contact, but this is what happens when Lemieux can land his punch cleanly. He has pop and power in his hands, and he displays that here against the Eagles.

To close the videos out, here are two nice and well-communicated plays from Andrew Thomas and Lemieux regarding passing stunts/twists off to each other.

Both plays are Tackle/End stunts, and both the rookie linemen read and handled their transitions well. Hopefully, this can continue to happen in year two, only now with a more confident and patient left guard.

Final Thoughts

If Lemieux doesn’t improve as a pass blocker, then the Giants have to upgrade the position. I love what he offers this Jason Garrett rushing attack; I think his mindset and overall ability to pull and locate is a valuable asset.

However, if Daniel Jones keeps receiving quick interior pressure before he hits his back foot, then he’s not going to have the time to find Kenny Golladay down the field.

This will lead to more quick game and spacing concepts, which, we know, Giants’ nation just can’t stand the latter. Lemieux has to clean up his ability to handle counter moves, and he has to disallow initial power rush moves from forcing him off-balance.

He loses that half-man relationship way too often, and this has to improve. It realistically could, and hopefully, Rob Sale can help bring Lemieux’s pass protection to another level in 2021. 

More "Good, Great & Ugly" Breakdowns

RB Devontae Booker | RB Corey Clement | OLB Lorenzo Carter | CB Isaac Yiadom | TE Kaden Smith | WR Kenny Golladay | TE Levine Toilolo | Edge Ifeadi Odenigbo | DT Danny Shelton | OL Zach Fulton | CB Adoree' Jackson | TE Evan Engram | S Jabrill Peppers | S Xavier McKinney | ILB Reggie Ragland | WR John Ross | TE Kyle Rudolph | OLB Oshane Ximines | LB Carter Coughlin | IDL Dexter Lawrence II | WR Darius Slayton | LB Cam Brown | DL Leonard Williams | OL Will Hernandez | IDL Austin Johnson | IDL B.J. Hill | WR Sterling Shepard | ILB Blake Martinez | DB Logan Ryan | C Nick Gates | OT Matt Peart | CB Darnay Holmes | ILB Tae Crowder | CB James Bradberry | QB Daniel Jones

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