Since Gruden took over as head coach of the Raiders, he has looked to familiarity with both his coaches and his players. He has said one of the benefits to having coaches with as much experience as his assistants have with so many different teams is gives the Raiders an advantage in signing new players that fit what he’s looking for.
Former Texans tackle Breno Giacomini is such a player. But after a season in which he gave up more pressures (81) than anyone in football by a wide margin, he wasn’t someone that came to mind as a possible upgrade from Marshall Newhouse, whose 38 pressures allowed last season seems stellar by comparison.
Even still, Gruden cut Newhouse and signed Giacomini. The 32-year-old veteran right tackle may replace Newhouse from a roster spot standpoint, but he isn’t an automatic starter by any stretch. He will have as much of a shot to compete for the starting job as several others including David Sharpe, Denver Kirkland, and Jylan Ware.
At the owner’s meeting last week, Gruden talked about what he saw in Giacomini to prompt the team to sign him.
“He has familiarity with Cable,” said Gruden. “He has the intangibles that we’re looking for. He’s tough as hell, this guy, he’s tough, man. McKenzie drafted him in Green Bay when he was there, so he has history with Reggie also. I think his toughness is gonna permeate the team. Hopefully it permeates in that room. Hopefully it’s something that’s contagious around the Raiders.”
That’s some strong words about Giacomini, who may have been drafted by the Packers, but appeared in just one game for them, before finding a home in Seattle, where he started for three seasons, including the 2013 Super Bowl.
Gruden’s opinion of Giacomini is echoed by John Gilbert from SB Nation’s Seahawks blog Field Gulls.
In Oakland Giacomini will once again be playing for Tom Cable, so he can help teach the system Cable prefers, and it keep Giacomini in contact with familiar executives. Giacomini was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2008, and then brought to Seattle by John Schneider in 2010. He grew into a starting role in 2011 and held down the RT job through 2013 before leaving to join the Jets. . .
He’s never been great in pass protection, but has a nasty mean streak and can be a mauler in the run game. His mean streak contributed to him being regularly penalized while with Seattle (8 penalties in 8 starts in 2011; 12 penalties in 16 starts in 2012; 6 penalties in 9 starts in 2013), but he appears to have cleaned up some of his penalty issues after leaving Seattle.
For the Jets perspective, we go to John Butchko from SB Nation Jets blog, Gang Green Nation, where, ironically, Giacomini replaced a guy who left to sign a big contract with the Raiders. And the opinions of Giacomini’s play go downhill quickly.
Giacomini was a free agent signing in 2014 replacing Austin Howard at right tackle. It wasn’t a successful signing. He was a poor pass protector and prone to penalties. It was widely assumed he would be a cap casualty after 2015, but the Jets surprisingly kept him around. It proved to be a mistake as he spent most of 2016 injured, and there wasn’t a big difference in play even though he was replaced with scrap heap pickups.
What Butchko doesn’t mention is a back injury that ended his final season in New York after five games. After which, Giacomini still managed to find a job as a starting right tackle in Houston, where Tim McHale covered him for SB Naton’s Texans blog, Battle Red Blog. His take on Giacomini also speaks to his toughness, but comes with serious caution.
I like to lead with a positive, so allow me to lead with the best thing I can say about Breno Giacomini: He’s durable. He played 100% of the Houston Texans’ offensive snaps in 2017. Availability is a skill, and Breno has it in spades.
That concludes the positive portion of my Giacomini evaluation.
He’s not a good offensive linemen. He gets beat like he stole something with an alarming frequency. If he’s one of your starting tackles, you’re in trouble, as the Houston Texans were in 2017. If Breno was signed for depth, I can get behind the move. He’s experienced, and there’s real value in that. But if the Raiders are going into the 2018 season counting on Breno Giacomini to log significant snaps for their offensive line, you have my condolences.
What I glean from this is similar to the signings of all the defenders who played for Paul Guenther. They were brought in for their familiarity with the system and the coach’s familiarity with them. Not to be the answer at their respective positions.
Best case scenario here for Giacomini is a return to playing with Cable, along with a year removed from his back injury, will bring the best out of him. Though, if no one on the team steps up to win the job or the team doesn’t add someone high in the draft, they would be putting themselves right back into the same sketchy right tackle situation they had been in during Reggie McKenzie’s entire tenure as Raiders GM.