Thursday, August 23, 2012

OL questions

As we're getting closer to opening game, only 13 days away from today, I want to focus on the one problem area with the Giants roster that can seriously undermine the entire season: the OL. Last season, the OL was terrible and there are several metrics to show that. Giants were near the bottom in the league in rushing yardage and Eli was among the most often pressured QBs in the league. Kareem MacKenzie's performance declined precipitously, from being a solid, better than average RT in 2010 to being really unproductive in 2011. I know Giants won two titles with Diehl at the all important LT position, but Diehl is far from a top shelf T and can probably be considered below average. He is graded as such by web sites like Profootballfocus that analyze each and every play of each and every game and grade out the players. Diehl is now over on the right side and we can hope that he plays a little better over there, now that his hands are no longer injured. I don't like hoping for improvement of a player that's been in the league for 10 years. On the left side is Beatty, if he can overcome his injuries and the jury is still out on him. In his place is Locklear who is a decent veteran who was acquired for depth, but certainly not a player that inspires great confidence in upgrading the running game and the pass blocking.

On the interior of the OL, Snee is very good and should have a rebound season from his injuries last year. Baas was mediocre last year, also was fighting head and neck injuries and has looked better this preseason. Boothe at the other G position is also not a stud OL-man and would be a very valuable player as a backup, but as a starter he is only average. He doesn't blow his assignments, but he is simply not very athletic and can get beaten by quick DTs.

Overall it's not a picture that makes you feel comfortable. Another way to look at things is to compare the different units on the team from their 2007 counterparts that won the first title in the Eli era. At WR, Giants have greatly upgraded with Nicks/Cruz much better that Burress/Toomer. The RBs were productive then, but Jacobs is gone replaced by faster and more dangerous Bradshaw/Wilson combination. At TE, it's too ealry to tell, but Bennet looks like a more physical player and a much better blocker than Kevin Boss was. On the defensive side, Giants have upgraded the CBs and definitely have upgraded the S position. The LB group has seen an influx of young, athletic speedy players mixed in with some experienced veterans. Even the DL that was the strength of the team back in 2007 has been upgraded with all-world JPP and with Tuck playing at a higher level than he did then. On the OL, however, Baas may be a downgrade at C compared to O'Hara, Boothe may be a downgrade compared to Seubert, Diehl at RT may be a downgrade compared to the way MacKenzie was playing the position back in 2007 and Beatty/Locklear is a question mark. Not a very pretty picture.

In summary, I would argue that the Giants have more talent and depth at every unit on the team than they did in 2007, with the exception of the OL, which is worse. Last year, of the 7 games the Giants lost, 3 were a direct result of the OL being outplayed by their opposing DL: the two Redskins games and the Eagles game. The OL may not sink the Giants season in 2012, but it is the weakest unit on a team that is otherwise deep and rich in talent.

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