It's hard to write bad things about David Diehl. He has been the quintessential professional for the duration of his career with the New York Giants (save for last summer's DUI incident). He's a former All-Pro and a two-time Super Bowl champion. By all accounts, he's had a successful career with Big Blue and will go down as one of the better offensive linemen to ever step on the field in a Giants uniform. Despite his poor recent performances, offensive line coach Pat Flaherty insists that Diehl is the right choice to start at right tackle.
Diehl has been horrible not just recently, but for most of last season as well. He's struggled to keep up with some of the younger, more athletic defensive lines in the league and has allowed Eli Manning to come under pressure with consistency. However, the Giants are still blindly placing their faith in the 10-year veteran to protect their franchise quarterback.
"He's a competitor," Flaherty said of Diehl. "As most guys when they go through an injury they miss valuable time and even though he had a preseason, playing a new position, he also had him working at some guard. He just has to get more familiar with the right tackle position. I think he'll be just fine."
The statistics do not support the notion the Diehl will be "just fine." The Giants have given up four sacks this season in the six games without Diehl in the starting lineup, while the team has given up nine sacks in the four games Diehl has started this season. Furthermore, veteran offensive tackle Sean Locklear has not given up a sack in his last 542 snaps.
Obviously, David Diehl is not the only issue on the offensive line. Although the unit has performed significantly worse with him in the lineup, he's not the only contributing factor to the damning statistics outlined above. The wide receivers have not gotten open. Eli Manning has held onto the ball longer in recent weeks and the rushing attack has been non existent. Flaherty said that those are also important issues to consider when evaluating Diehl.
"You would love to say it’s this one thing or one person or one aspect, but it doesn’t work out that way," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. "Believe me when I tell you this, it’s all of us. We all have to do better."
The Giants coaching staff has a rhyme and a reason for everything they do. If David Diehl is starting at right tackle, it's because the coaching staff feels as if he is the best option and will help this team win more football games going forward.
However, it's time to stop making excuses for him. Everybody knows DIehl was injured. Everybody knows he had to make a transition from left tackle to right tackle. However, the fact of the matter is that this unit performed significantly better with Sean Locklear in the lineup than with Diehl. The team has suffered because of Diehl's recent performances. It's about time the Giants justify their support of him with on field results, as opposed to vague, generic statements as to why they are keeping him on the field.
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