Saturday, December 17, 2011

N.Y. Giants ~ O-Line Rushing to the Rescue?

From the desk of:   DO IT FOR THE DUKE

This Week's Posts:

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL:  The Latest Offensive Line Shuffle is Gaining Ground and Pushing Forward.

In the Giants' present situation, their best Defense might be their Offense.  Shall we?

Free agent Center; David Bass; will miss his third consecutive game this week.  The Giants' center lineman came down with sudden headaches just prior to the Packers game stemming from concussion symptoms sustained earlier this season.  Kevin Boothe filled in at Center, Mitch Petrus was inserted at Left Guard, and David Diehl slid over to Left Tackle.  They've done well, for it now seems as if the Offensive Line has struck the right combination.  Behind them, the running game is suddenly rushing to life and finding daylight again.

Initially the return of Ahmad Bradshaw was thought to have kick-started the running game.  But last week, Brandon Jacobs pretty much handled the work load by himself while his Little Buddy got benched by Coach Coughlin for the first half against the Cowboys.  Bradshaw wound up figuring inconsequentially in the second half as well.

This much is clear, Brandon Jacobs has been the biggest beneficiary of the O-Line's improved run-blocking.  But the big guy has also helped himself.  If you noticed against both the Packers and the Cowboys, Brandon Jacobs strung out many rushes along the line and turned up field once he broke outside.  He's been trying to do that all season because frankly, there's nothing happening for the Giants straight up the middle be it earlier in the season or presently; not even for Ahmad Bradshaw.  For much of the season Brandon Jacobs has been continually met at, or behind the line of scrimmage for no-gains and lost yardage.  And for that, along with his mouth, the Media and Fans came crashing down on Big Buddy.

But changes to the Offensive Line may have finally helped get people off Brandon Jacobs' back, and perhaps even made Coach Kevin Gilbride back off his predictable pattern of rushing between the Guards.  I thought then as I still think now, that with David Baas or without him, the Offensive Line has created bigger holes off-Tackle.  But up the middle?

The Giants' O-Line is finally beginning to surge forward with big Mitch Petrus being the new face in there.  The run blocking is pushing into positive territory off the snap and awarding that yardage to the backfield.  And there-in lies the root of Brandon Jacob's success over the last two weeks.  The Offensive Line is getting a decent push forward now.  Where Jacobs was once met by multiple tacklers at the point of attack, the O-Line is currently executing their assignments; they aren't getting over-taken as easily; and are actually pushing forward and giving Jacobs a better field of view.  As you see, it's all relative.

In the case of Brandon Jacobs, I often laid blame with Coach Gilbride's stubborn insistence with repeatedly running the ball off-center to no avail.  It was clear to everyone there was never anything there, and the success the Giants gained inside and outside the Tackles went ignored.  And as we all well know, too many times Brandon Jacobs had six, maybe seven touches a game, managed to pop-off a big play, then only to never be used again.  Throw in what I though was Gilbride's lack of creativity and overall impatience with the running game, and there-in lied my frustration.

Recent success with the running game now brings with it a new set of questions.  Brandon Jacobs rushed the ball nineteen times last week for 101 yards.  And it's safe to say Ahmad Bradshaw will not be getting benched this week.  So who gets the lion share of carries against the Redskins?  Do you let that play out on the field or do you predetermine the running attack featuring one guy, and changing up with the other?  We all know Ahmad Bradshaw is the starter.  But how many touches will Kevin Gilbride take away from Brandon Jacobs this week now that Bradshaw is back?  The Giants like to call the running game a two-back attack.  But Coach Gilbride usually skews the amount of rushes one way; towards Ahmad Bradshaw.  And rightfully so, but I'm just saying Brandon Jacobs is still a major asset to this team when used correctly.

Then there's the matter at Center.  Big Blue is down to their last three regular season games with a trip to the playoffs hanging in the balance.  The question now begs to be asked  -  Do you disrupt what seemingly has been working by reinstating Kevin Baas when he's cleared to return, which could come as early as next week against the Jets?  Shouldn't they be going with what's working best for them right now?  Outside of David Baas' free agent contract, he hasn't exactly written his name in stone at Center yet.  In which case, there is no clear incumbent at Center whom might feel slighted by a non-start.  In the case Baas starts at Center again, big Mitch Petrus goes back to the bench as David Diehl and Kevin Boothe switch back again.  I say we let this latest combo ride out their recent success running the ball.  Sunday's game against the Redskins however, will go a much longer way towards dictating what the Giants must do than I can ever say here.

For two weeks now, Mitch Petrus, Kevin Boothe, and Chris Snee have literally pushed their way into being a forward moving unit.  Let's see if they can further build upon those efforts against the Redskins.  Because in order to win this division and keep the Giants' Secondary out of harms way....they have to.


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