Andrew Thomas-Chase Young Battle Begins Sunday
On Sunday, the New York Giants will face what could have been their current reality.
The Washington Football Team (1-4) is coming into MetLife Stadium, looking for its second win of the season against the Giants (0-5).
Headlining the WFT's charge will be rookie edge rusher Chase Young, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft that had the Giants not defeated Washington last December in overtime, might have seen Young lining up for the Giants instead.
That wasn't the case, though, so the Giants did the next best thing, which is to pluck Georgia's Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick to be their long-term left tackle.
Starting this Sunday. Young and Thomas will mostly square off against each other when the two teams meet, a battle with all the makings and intrigue of the great Michael Strahan-Jon Runyan (Eagles) classics.
Young has so far backed up his predraft praise to emerge as an early favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
In addition to being one of the highest-graded rookies each week, Young has, per PFF, recorded two sacks, nine total quarterback pressures, nine stops, and two forced fumbles.
"[Young's] speed off the edge is very good, his reaction on the counter moves, the way he plays off contact, he has great instincts to find the ball which is very important," said Giants head coach Judge.
"You watch him and his ability to spin off and get inside and really still isolate and make it a one-on-one matchup and get to the quarterback.
"If you to [Washington's Week 1 game against the Philadelphia Eagles] they really chipped him a lot with the running back and the tackle and tried to get the double team to slow him down."
Beyond Young's threat as a pass rusher, he is bound to present multiple layers of challenges for the Giants offense in terms of the pass rush, run defense, and coverage.
The pass rush is what the rookie is known for, so it will mostly be up to Thomas to win as many of those battles as possible. Thomas has allowed a league-leading 28 total pressures so far this season after facing some of the league's elite pass rushers.
"He's a very talented guy," Thomas said of Young. "Not just him but that entire front, I think it's like five first-round draft picks. It's going to be a good matchup for our tackles and our inside guys."
Thomas insisted that he's not worried about Young so much as he is about ensuring he does what he has to do.
"The biggest thing is focusing on myself, making sure that my technique is correct because regardless of what they do, if I'm not doing my technique yet then they're going to be successful," he said.
Thomas was asked how he's evaluated his play so far.
"I think I see progression, but there are definitely things that I definitely need to get better at," he said. "There are no days off; there are no plays off. I’m just trying to cut down my negative plays as much as possible.
According to Giants' offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, the important thing for Thomas is not to get discouraged if he doesn't win every one-on-one battle.
"The other guys are good too. They are going to have success pushing the pocket, getting around the quarterback," Garrett said, sharing the story of how Cowboys Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith struggled as a rookie but got better as time went on.
"You have to keep coming back and learn from experience. They have to keep battling, keep learning from their experiences. Be mentally tough. Be physically tough. Technically, become better, and you’ll grow and improve as a player over time.
"Andrew has done a nice job so far. He’s going to get better and better as we go."