New York Giants TE Levine Toilolo: The Good, the Great and the Ugly
The Giants attempted to completely rename their offensive style during the 2020 offseason when Joe Judge was hired as head coach. The team seemed to prioritize tenacity, culture, and effective racing play from heavier staff packages.
Jason Garrett, the Giants’ new caller, was going to implement more power / spread and block, as opposed to Pat Shurmur’s inside zone rushing pattern.
To make sure his popular counter-run would work as a base game, Garrett needed several tight ends that can block.
Evan Engram is much more of a receiving threat than a blocker, although he has developed a bit in the blocking zone of the game. Kaden Smith has been a quality find on waiver while showing good development as a player. as a blocker over the past two seasons.
The Giants had two younger tight ends who weren’t known for blocking, so Dave Gettleman came out and chased a veteran tight end who can be relied on as a blocker; this is where Levine Toilolo joins the Giants.
Toilolo has been in the league since 2013 and has always been known for his blocking. He’s a gigantic 6’8, 268-pound man who was set to play some important snaps for the Giants after struggling in San Francisco, having only played 60 snaps in 2019.
The problem with Toilolo and his blocking ability was that he didn’t come close to certain expectations at all.
His pass blocking percentage was the second lowest of his career; Toilolo’s direct role was on these important runs – over 90% of his blocking shots were as a race blocker. However, he failed to prove to be a consistent and reliable blocker.
Toilolo played 276 offensive snaps. New York decided to restructure their contract after the season to keep it on the list at a lower price.
If Kyle Rudolph is healthy enough, Toilolo could end up more limited than in 2020. Toilolo saw 152 shots in 2020 on special teams, which was the most for him since 2017; he will probably have to perform these tasks at a high standard to dress consistently on Sundays.
Let’s dive into the “Good, the Big and the Ugly” of Toilolo.
(Levine Toilolo is # 85.)
The good: effective once hired
As you will see in this article, Toilolo has incredible issues with his balance when engaging in contact. It is too often found on the ground because of its high center of gravity, its marginal playing force and its speed of reaction.
However, if Toilolo can get his hands inside and use his large frame, he can hold up long enough for the running back to make a decision.
Toilolo has a 7-Technique on him at the back of the track. He walks over to the play side at the snap and puts his outside arm on the blocking mission breastplate.
Toilolo then sinks sideways with the direction of play, framing his block well and not allowing the defender to disengage. Getting that hand inside is important for Toilolo, who struggles to hold blocks if he can’t engage cleanly.
While facing more than a 6-Technique on this game, Toilolo’s job is to seal the EDGE of the outer shadow.
The tight big end quickly places his inner arm under the defender’s shoulder pads, and he works on his outer part; this eliminates the defender from the outside rushing game due to the angle and Toilolo’s ability to seal the EDGE.
The difficulties with engagement blocks that you’ll see later in this article are assisted when Toilolo is the second engagement blocker in two-team situations.
While working with Andrew Thomas (# 78), Toilolo can attack the 7-Technique from an inside bias and take away his outside responsibilities by going through the half-man.
The defender leans right on Thomas, allowing Toilolo to take advantage of his outside shoulder.
Toilolo has those kinds of abilities in his game, but the situation just needs to be advantageous for him, and he needs to be more consistent in shooting his hands and making contact.
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The big one: the size
Having one size fits all for a position can get a player so far; Toilolo is in the 98th percentile for height at position, 75th percentile for weight, 93rd percentile for arm length, and 80th percentile for hand size.
Possessing a rare size in the tight end position will help with blocking and provide a great target for quarterbacks in midfield.
He doesn’t use his large grip radius on this play, but Toilolo does a body grip and shows his ability on fast play action passes. He’s no threat as a receiver, but he can still run flat, or down midfield, and be a big target for Daniel Jones.
Toilolo’s lack of agility and overall athletic ability does not allow him to maximize his wide catch radius in red zone or third and short situations.
Toilolo shows concerns about the first blocking attempt at the start of this game before remembering and locating his second level defender.
Toilolo uses his size and cuts any angle, then he closes the width while creating an outside alley in the defender’s fit.
This piece shows a little more than size, although the angle is cut off from Sean Lee (50) partly because of the size. Toilolo shows good lateral movement abilities to launch and locate in space.
He blocks and does a solid job on the game side of running. He does not go beyond his mission, and he is much more controlled; it’s a solid game from someone who tends to struggle with balance at the point of attack.
The Ugly: Balance
There were some good games with Toilolo above, handling double-team transitions well, but it’s not.
He gives a clear path trying to transition with Kaden Smith (No.82), and the defender charges Toilolo by disengaging his block and allowing the big tight winger to hit the bridge. This happens far too often in the Toilolo gang.
His technique is not controlled most of the time, and he splits far too often, leaving himself open to counter-hard moves or moves that will put him on the bridge, like the hard club to the outside shoulder that we see above.
Toilolo is on the right side of the screen, taking on a linebacker on the edge. Watch how he throws himself on contact. His hands are wide, his feet are unbalanced and underneath him – these are consistency issues that are negative for Toilolo throughout his film.
We see a similar thing below against the Seahawks in the next clip.
It’s a little more understandable that these issues arise at the second level, but it happens too often on the line of scrimmage. Here are some balance issues that Toilolo has had throughout the 2020 season as he was engaged with second tier defenders.
These clips are slightly different; some are linebacker blitzes, and others are located on the second level. Some clips aren’t that bad either, and it performs its mission pretty well.
However, Toilolo still shows the propensity to lean too far forward while exposing his chest, which gives defenders fabric that is easy to grab and tear to the ground.
It’s a part of Toilolo’s game that he struggles to prevent due to his size and sub-optimal reaction speed.