Should Giants have tanked for Chase Young? Washington pass rusher weighs in

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  • Chase Young
    Chase Young
    American football player
  • Andrew Thomas
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Marc Colombo
    Marc Colombo
    Player of American football

Chase Young did his best to ignore all the talk about last December’s “Chase Young Bowl” between the Giants and Washington at FedEx Field in Week 16.

But Young admitted on Thursday that he couldn’t avoid hearing about how the loser of that game would land the NFL Draft’s No. 2 overall pick and Young as the grand prize.

“Yeah, that’s the stuff I tried not to listen to. I was locked in,” Young, 21, said with a laugh on a Zoom call. “Oh no I heard about it for sure. They said it on TV. Everybody sent me videos talking about, you know what I’m saying, the Chase Young Bowl. Man, I’m not listening to that.”

Giants co-owner John Mara doesn’t believe in tanking. So Daniel Jones threw five touchdown passes that day, and the Giants won. Washington got the No. 2 pick and Young out of Ohio State. The Giants took Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas at No. 4.

So does Young think the Giants should have tanked and lost on purpose to get him?

“Hey, that’s coaching right?” he said with a chuckle. “I can’t — I’m just a player, you feel me?”

We do. But it’s fine that Young wouldn’t answer that question on Thursday. He’ll have every opportunity to answer it with actions on the field this Sunday.

The Giants (0-5) are hosting Washington (1-4) at MetLife Stadium, meaning Young and Thomas will go head-to-head for the first time since the 2017 Army All-American Bowl.

They were teammates for that high school showcase. They got two 1-on-1 reps in a practice, and the video shows Thomas won both, shoving Young down to the turf on the first.

“They got two reps against each other during the All-American practice and it was a good matchup,” Kevin Johnson, Thomas' mentor and Pace Academy’s (Ga.) offensive coordinator, told the Daily News on Thursday. “The video speaks for itself. It’s gonna be an exciting matchup on Sunday.”

Young said he knew back then that Thomas was an elite O-lineman.

“Andrew, he was definitely the best tackle in college football last year, best offensive lineman I would say,” Young said. “I could tell at the Army All-American Bowl that he was just kind of ahead of all the other linemen. So that was a guy that I knew was gonna be real good. He’s turned out to be real good. So it’s definitely gonna be a real good matchup this Sunday. I mean it’s tough: We were together in high school, and now we’re in the league.”

Thomas, 21, doesn’t address the media until Friday, but Giants offensive line coach Marc Colombo said the Giants are preparing for Young like any other premier pass rusher.

“We study all pass rushers. So we’re gonna go into this thing and study him the same way we would have studied a (player like) Khalil Mack,” Colombo said this week, referencing the Chicago Bears' three-time All-Pro and 2016 NFL defensive player of the year. (Mack had a sack and recovered a fumble against the Giants in Week 2.)

“I’m sure Andrew’s gonna be fired up for it," Colombo said. "I’m sure they’ll both be fired up for it. I don’t think I’m gonna have to push him extra this week. But he’ll be ready for the challenge. It will be a challenge. He’s a really good pass rusher.”

Young so far has been a difference-maker, even though he missed Washington’s Week 2 game with a groin injury and still has room to grow.

In four games he has recorded two sacks, forced two fumbles, and generated nine QB pressures and six hurries in 91 pass rush snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

Thomas, on the other hand, has allowed 28 pressures, four sacks and three QB hits on 223 pass block snaps, per PFF.

Thomas' 319 offensive snaps are nearly double Young’s 166 snaps so far, and neither rookie had a normal preseason, so if this were a normal year, they’d only be entering their second NFL regular season game on Sunday.

But now that the game is here, it counts, and Thomas and the Giants have to be ready.

Colombo said one of the major issues Thomas must “fix” is his early penchant for letting pass rushers beat him inside rather than on the edge, which Colombo called a “cardinal sin.”

“Andrew is capable of being a dominating left tackle in the NFL,” Colombo said. “I truly believe that. He’s gone against some really good competition. He’s done well at times, and at times, not so much. My big challenge to him this week is to show him what he did well on film and be able to replicate that, be more consistent.”

The entire offensive line has to get better, though, not just Thomas. Washington’s defensive front is one of the best in the league and boasts five former first-round picks.

Young, Montez Sweat (26th overall, 2019) and Ryan Kerrigan (16th overall, 2011) bring pressure off the edges. Former Alabama standouts defensive tackles Jonathan Allen (17th overall, 2017) and Da’Ron Payne (13th overall, 2018) anchor the middle.

The Washington D-line’s matchup against the Giants' struggling offensive line and a turnover-prone Daniel Jones might end up being the difference in the game, quite frankly.

The play of Thomas, guards Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler, center Nick Gates and right tackle Cam Fleming is likely to determine whether or not Joe Judge’s Giants get their first win.

“They’ve got a very good defensive front, particularly the interior,” Colombo said. "The ends are really good, as well. A lot of first round picks, as you know. It’s a big challenge for us. So we’ve got to be ready for this challenge. This is something we’re gonna have to do.

“We’re gonna go against really good defensive lines,” he continued. “To go back to the other question about Andrew Thomas, he’s gonna go up against really good pass rushers every week. He’s gotta get used to that. These guys gotta get used to going against really good defensive lines every week, and Washington’s one of them.”

SHEP TAKES BABY STEPS

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard did some light running on the side of Thursday’s practice, not in uniform. Shepard (turf toe) is eligible to be designated for return from injured reserve after sitting out the minimum required three games.

It looks as if the earliest he’ll be able to play is next Thursday night at the Philadelphia Eagles, and even that is no guarantee. Judge said Thursday would tell the Giants where Shepard is.

“We’re going to see him today a little bit because he was with the trainers yesterday during the walkthrough,” Judge said before practice. “We weren’t going to put him through a walkthrough for no reason. I’ll see how he’s moving around today and see where that leads into Sunday. But today will be a decision-making day for a lot of our guys.”

SLAYTON STILL LIMITED

All four Giants who were limited in Wednesday’s walkthrough were again limited for Thursday’s full practice: WR Darius Slayton (foot), DL Dexter Lawrence (knee), SS Jabrill Peppers (ankle) and OLB Kyler Fackrell (ankle).

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