NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS: Week One's Offensive Line Is Big and Blue, Weighs Over 1500 Pounds, And I Like It.
Did David Diehl's Injury Actually Improve The Offensive Line?
Tiki Barber, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw all ran behind superior offensive lines. I didn't say that, the record books did. In the same breath, Eli Manning has been one of the least sacked quarterbacks since entering the league. But time stands still for no one. The front five I'm referring to were already on the precipice of decline by the time the Giants won Super Bowl XLII. Over the last five years since then and another Super Bowl later, some members have slowly been transitioned out.
Last season saw the departure of Kareem McKenzie. Prior to him, Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara were given their walking papers. Remaining from what was once the most formidable offensive line in football are David Diehl and Chris Snee. Diehl, as we know will miss the first quarter of the regular season with a thumb injury. Although he's been very adaptable and helpful in playing multiple positions over the last several seasons, his game has been in steady decline for the last two in particular. For the moment, that leaves Snee as the lone survivor at right guard.
This year's offensive line has already suffered multiple casualties. In addition to David Diehl, regular starting center David Baas will miss Sunday night's opener in Dallas with an injured left knee. I'm still not at peace with the signing of Baas. He struggled somewhat and suffered a neck injury his first season here. To be fair however, he played well last season. I just feel he is undersized for the position.
This year, the Giants will enter Sunday's clash against the Cowboys with over 1500 pounds of offensive linemen. At 6'3" and 320 pounds, Jim Cordle, 26, will take over at center this week. That's the kind of size I'm talking about. Jim will be taking on his biggest assignment to date. Entering his fourth season, he should at least have the smarts and his technique down. Kevin Boothe was the original back-up plan for David Baas, but after David Diehl went down, Boothe was forced to slide back to left guard.
Will Beatty is back to man left tackle. He is a technique reliant guy, which tends to get me down on him from time to time. But when you crunch the rushing numbers, the Giants ran the ball slightly better running left with Beatty at tackle than with Diehl. As previously mentioned, Kevin Boothe will play left guard. I like Boothe - always have, and especially like him at left guard because we can trust him. He is entering his sixth season, and his prime years as a player. At twenty-eight years old, he maintains a 6'6", 319 pound wall of protection for Eli Manning's blind side.
Chris Snee is just a good, gutsy lineman. He's been a great front line grunt for the G-Men. He is now entering his eleventh season. When you add his 305 pounds to that of Jim Cordle and Kevin Boothe, that's over 900 pounds of Big Blue man meat between the tackles, which I find somewhat comforting.
Pressed into service at right tackle, will be Jerry Reese's first round (#19) draft pick, Justin Pugh. Luckily for him, he will be playing along side an excellent mentor in Chris Snee. He'll need to mature in a hurry, as Pugh could potentially receive a personal welcome to the NFL from the Cowboys DeMarcus Ware. Pugh brings another 301 pounds to the line.
These five will be charged to open holes for David Wilson and protect Eli Manning. Through injury, I kind of like this unit better. Of course, being down to one feature back is a precarious way to start the season. If David Wilson goes down, we're pretty much consigned to throwing 70% of the time; or just plain screwed if you prefer. But I'm not so sure going into the season with just David Wilson is such a bad thing though. Running off right tackle with a rookie there might pose a problem, but that wouldn't be a new problem. The running game saw a drop off in yardage last season when rushing to the right side, or off-tackle. In Kareem McKenzie's last season, the Giants averaged nearly five yards per rush running right, and barely three yards per carry to the left. Last season with McKenzie gone, the Giants had difficulty getting to the outside of both tackles, faring much better inside. If anything, the Giants will have good size and experience up the middle this season.
I guess the idea is to keep defenses honest. Coach Gilbride likes balance. Hopefully, the running game will provide that, and prevent team's from keying in on Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Offense is all about making the defensive safeties commit. If the offensive line and David Wilson can help keep safeties honest by providing a productive running game, then Coach Gilbride, Eli, Cruz and Nicks can dice up any team.
Welcome to the new, modern day NFL. Oh smash-mouth football, why have you forsaken me?