Within a few preseason games, it remains clear that work needs to be done on the line. Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty again has a bit of shifting and age on the line to contend with. However, this shouldn’t be an excuse or a reason why this line isn’t more of a cohesive unit. They are pretty much the same core of guys and the system has been a constant since 2007.
Due to injury and questionable length of time out, the latest list of starters has been: Left tackle Sean Locklear (as tackle Will Beatty’s back apparently remains an issue), left guard Kevin Boothe, center David Baas, right guard Chris Snee, and right tackle David Diehl. This roster of lineman should be more than capable as their resume is above average and their collective time on the field is over 40 years. Three of these guys have played only in blue since Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride has been given his title and have started 171 games (combined) since. So what’s the problem?
Honestly, there isn’t that much of a problem with the five up front. Taking a closer look, it’s been in their ancillary help. The tight ends have again turned over as have running backs. Folks tend to underestimate the secondary assignments of these position players as the backs usually, umm, carry the rock and the ends split wide/flank to go out for a pass. Understandable, but when a bit of the aforementioned cohesion is that of TEs new to the system and RBs that chip-block (Bradshaw/Ware) rather than create a wall (like former Giants RB Brandon Jacobs), that block isn’t going to be as solid. In fact, consider it brief and very temporary. Quarterback Eli Manning has gotten so much better on his timing with his primary receivers that getting the ball out quick has become part of the play-calling against certain teams and defenses. It’s still the run game that needs attention – especially when defenders stack the line.
Going back to the topic of that supplementary help. In the run game, TE Bear Pascoe isn’t getting the same leverage on his defenders since he practiced more on his receiving skills with the 1’s. Fan favorite FB Henry Hynoski has those “Hynocerous” times that we hope will increase, but he still has those times where he seems to hit a barricade instead of pave the way for his fellow back. Newcomer Martellus Bennett has shown why General Manager Jerry Reese ignored all slights [towards Bennett] that were coming from Dallas (hey, they said the same of Canty too, remember?). He most definitely knows how to block, but can’t do it all. The other running backs and tight ends aren’t nearly as proficient in on-the-line or up front blocking. Using wideouts on the line (WR Domenik Hixon was in there for the preseason game versus the New York Jets) hasn’t helped either (needless to say it irks some fans for fear of injury there).
Here’s a thought: why couldn’t they call more “eligible” linemen – like a Mitch Petrus or (standby and open your mind some) use one of these extra linebackers or defensive linemen on the other side of scrimmage? Crazier things have been done in the Big Blue past when some players took snaps on all three sides of the ball. Hey, it was a fleeting thought.
Fine, wait for some of these newer guys to come in and help the line as they get stronger and gel more. Jokes aside, it will happen. Actually, things in fact are not as bad on this line as some are making it out to be. As with the defense last year: they’re all fixable and teachable elements to the youth that’s there – it’s just a matter of repetition and health.
Photo Credit: Mike Gannon
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