I remember when Justin Pugh was drafted. He was supposed to be the next chapter of an offensive line that helped win the Giants a Super Bowl. He was slotted at Right Tackle his rookie year, but he was the predecessor of Big Blue Great, Chris Snee. He played alongside David Diehl and Will Beatty, and he was supposed to be the future. It sucked when he departed, because that is where the Giants O-Line began to falter. Now six years later, the former first round draft pick made his return, from Arizona and "straight off the couch", to being the emergency left-tackle in a match he was just supposed to be elevated from the practice squad.
Pugh was named the starting left guard before quickly moving to left tackle after Joshu Ezeudu left with a toe injury. Playing in his first game since Week 6 last year, Pugh had 38 pass-blocking snaps at left tackle, a position he hadn’t played since 2017.
He allowed just three pressures, according to NextGen stats. He faced an unthinkable task by going up against the best pass rushing front in the league, and held his own. He did more than that, he essentially has been the best offensive lineman since the injury of Andrew Thomas.
Not only did he perform on the field, he's now becoming a headline (which is rare for lineman sadly). His introduction into Sunday Night Football allowed him the spotlight to drop a funny tagline that went viral on social media. He truly was "straight off the couch", like he said, because he wasn't on a team two weeks ago. His agents moved quickly and dropped a merch line, as Pugh shined in his re-debut with the Giants.
That's a savvy business move, and you have to tip the cap. His next business move was essentially forcing himself into a contract - which the Giants can't refuse to miss out on.
Pugh signed to the Giants’ practice squad less than two weeks ago, which resulted into a standard elevation from that practice squad for Sunday’s game. The Giants now have to either sign him to the 53-man roster or return him to the practice squad, which Pugh can reject and sign with any team as a free agent.
With no exceptional lineman available in the waiver wire, and a glaring whole at the position, the Giants need to fix the cap situation and lock him in or its check mate.
We all know and should believe that offensive lineman are the most important position on the offense (behind the quarterback of course), and Pugh showed that he can help pull the Giants out of the slums when up to speed. As a fan, I hope he returns and helps fix the offensive struggles up front, but either way you have to be impressed with how this week unfolded for Justin Pugh.