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31 Jul 2012

Andy Benoit Previews the Giants

by Andy Benoit

(Ed. Note: Thanks to The New York Times for allowing us to re-run Andy Benoit's annual team previews. Please be aware that these previews are more scouting-oriented than what we run in Football Outsiders Almanac 2012, and they represent one man's opinion so they may differ from the forecast from our statistical team projection system. -- Aaron Schatz)

What do we make of the New York Giants? They’ve won two Super Bowls in the last five years, yet in that span, they’ve won more than 10 games just once. They’ve illustrated how the competitive nature of today’s NFL has created a system in which titles are won not by the best team, but by the team that gets hot at the right time. Surprisingly, the fallout from this has not been a nationwide discussion about whether the NFL model has become flawed. Instead, there’s been a rethinking of the defining characteristics of greatness. Hardly anyone claims that the Giants have gotten lucky or cut corners. Instead, we marvel at the way they blossom down the stretch.

They’ve done it through stability -– funny given that their paths to the top have been defined by spectacular ups and downs (they lost five of six before going on their season-ending six-game winning streak last season). We tend to think of "stability" as foundational football beliefs that are relentlessly adhered to, but stability is about people more than principles. Tom Coughlin is an old-school coach who believes you win with a ground game and defense, but a commitment to those beliefs is not what won the Giants a second Super Bowl. In fact, the Giants’ rushing attack ranked dead last in 2011. Even during their season-ending six-game winning streak, the Giants rushed for over 115 yards just once.

What won the Giants a second Super Bowl was their ability to deviate from Coughlin’s foundation without abandoning it. When Coughlin realized that his banged-up offensive line and backfield were not capable of carrying the offense, he had coordinator Kevin Gilbride, his eighth-year assistant, put more on quarterback Eli Manning’s plate. This was no problem because Manning has been eating off the same plate (i.e. working out of the same system) for essentially his entire eight-year career. Consequently, his quarterbacking has only gotten better and better (or, more and more "elite," if you will).

On the other side of the ball, whenever Coughlin saw that injuries and ineptitude in the back seven were becoming too severe, he, along with coordinator Perry Fewell (who had joined the staff in 2010 but worked with Coughlin in Jacksonville from ’98-’02), safeties coach David Merritt (on staff since 2004) and cornerbacks coach Peter Guinta (on staff since 2006) made adjustments to their nickel and dime packages. These involved things like moving $37 million safety Antrel Rolle into the slot on a more regular basis, benching first-round rookie Prince Amukamara later in the year or replacing some of the traditional zone coverages that Fewell prefers with more press concepts. Coughlin gets as much out of his assistants as any coach in the league.

Those assistants are empowered to coach in an uninhibited way because rigid habits and ego-driven loyalties to underperforming or miscast players simply don’t exist in New York. Coughlin and General Manager Jerry Reese (czar of personnel) have worked together since Coughlin’s arrival in 2004, when Reese was director of player personnel under Ernie Accorsi. They see eye-to-eye on how the personnel fits their system. Perhaps that’s why Coughlin, despite spending most of his New York career on the media’s "hot seat," has never coached out of fear. He’s been willing to make the big gambles during games, to demote the star player if need be (see backup defensive end Osi Umenyiora, or former running back Brandon Jacobs) and to tweak his philosophy when circumstance calls for it.

This is true stability. True stability comes from flexibility, not rigidity. It breeds confidence and security throughout a front office, coaching staff and roster. It keeps everyone abreast of the team’s core principles but also alert to the inevitable necessity of change. It fosters a commitment to winning that goes beyond t-shirt slogans and metaphors. It allows for improvements during the course of a season. And, as we’re learning, it can change Football America’s definition of "greatness."

OFFENSE

Eli Manning is not elite because he won a second Super Bowl; Eli Manning won a second Super Bowl because he’s elite. Manning earned his first ring by managing the offense, avoiding mistakes, and making the occasional big play. He earned his second ring by directing the offense (both in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage), by succeeding on high-risk/high-reward throws (the type of throws that illustrate just how underrated his raw arm strength really is) and by improving his mobility and poise in the pocket (arguably his best, yet least-talked-about, trait). While most of today’s elite quarterbacks play in spread-oriented systems, Manning still operates largely out of base personnel. That’s primarily a function of Coughlin’s sticking to his core values without chaining himself to them. Even if the Giants aren’t running as much as they used to (they ranked 22nd in rushing attempts last season), they’re still forcing defenses to acknowledge the continued threat of the run, which is all it takes to maintain the control and balance that this team is built on.

It will be interesting to see if this foundation changes in 2012. Unless Manning goes down and the athletic but somewhat wide-eyed backup David Carr plays, it may be difficult for the Giants to resist the temptations of spreading the field. For one, they probably won’t get as much consistency out of their tight end this season, which could compromise the integrity of the base formations. Jake Ballard was an uninspiring, lumbering athlete, but he was at least dependable, especially going over the middle. If newcomer Martellus Bennett were anything like that, he’d still be a Cowboy. Bennett let his weight climb to 291 in June, which he attributed to increased muscle mass. ("I’m looking like Atlas, not Professor Klump," he said.) Coughlin and tight ends coach Mike Pope weren’t buying it, saying they’d like to see Bennett down to 270 or so. If Bennett can be right, he has the in-line blocking prowess and short-receiving suppleness to excel in Kevin Gilbride’s system. More likely, though, the Giants will find themselves disappointed and looking to use fourth-round rookie Adrien Robinson -– whom Jerry Reese has said can become the Jason Pierre-Paul of tight ends –- or H-back Travis Beckum (who has gotten stronger and is reportedly recovering well from an ACL injury suffered in the Super Bowl).

A more enticing reason for the Giants to drift away from the run formations is they could have the best wide receiving corps in football by season’s end. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are matchup nightmares lining up anywhere on the field and facing any type of coverage. Both play with incredible body control and tempo, particularly in transition movement (in-and-out breaks, comebackers, etc.), which Manning has the timing and ball placement aptitude to capitalize on.

You can tell by the startling similarities in their fine-tuned mechanics that Nicks and Cruz are extremely well-coached. That could come from Coughlin –- who was a wide receivers coach with the Eagles, Packers and Giants from 1984-90 –- or from receivers coach Kevin Gilbride Jr., who joined the staff in 2010. Whoever gets the credit, it shines a promising light on the prospects of the second-round rookie Rueben Randle, a 6-3, 208-pound dynamo who many believe has the all-around skills to become a star.

Randle will assume the departed Mario Manningham’s No. 3 duties, with the diminutive dasher Jerrel Jernigan and lanky banger (or "should-be banger," if he ever learns to play with assertiveness) Ramses Barden filling niche roles in the four spot. There’s also the once-crisp route-runner Domenik Hixon, who’s hoping to return from back-to-back season-ending ACL injuries.

Besides the alluring talent at wide receiver, there’s another reason the Giants could be willing to morph from traditional two-back and two-tight-end sets to more three-wide concepts: first-round running back David Wilson. Wilson, at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, and overflowing with quickness and track star speed, is a much more polished outside runner than inside runner. He’ll give the offense a very different dynamic than his departed predecessor, Brandon Jacobs. Wilson is likely to be most comfortable carrying the ball in space and out of single-back formations, rather than behind lead blockers Henry Hynoski or Bear Pascoe. Because Wilson got very little experience as a pass blocker and receiver at Virginia Tech, his carries should come predominantly on first and second downs.

That’s not a problem, of course, because Ahmad Bradshaw is one of the best third-down backs in the league. This isn’t to say Bradshaw will be relegated to third-down duties. He’s short, but not small. His compactness and physicality make him a tremendous inside and short-area runner. Third-string running back D.J. Ware can also fit this mold, if need be.

The final incentive for more spreads this season is that the Giants’ offensive line is not the road-grading unit it used to be. Left tackle William Beatty is adequate, but only just. Left guard Kevin Boothe is coming off a breakout season in which he showed previously undiscovered athleticism, but it will be difficult for him to thrive next to the somewhat finesse-oriented Beatty and the often-overpowered center David Baas.

At right guard, Chris Snee is top-five caliber, and next to him is David Diehl, who always manages to overcome his subtle limitations but is now readjusting to playing right tackle (a position he last played full time in 2004). If Diehl struggles, backup Sean Locklear could be an option, though Locklear’s much better served as a utility backup and or sixth lineman in heavy formations (which the Giants employed regularly down the stretch last season).

Because Boothe is a free agent after this season and because backup guard Mitch Petrus struggles with lateral movement in pass protection, the Giants spent a fourth-round pick on guard Brandon Mosley. He’ll initially develop as a backup alongside last year’s fourth-round pick, James Brewer.

DEFENSE

The significance of New York’s monstrous four-man pass-rush is still understated, even for as much hype as it receives. The advantage of a four-man pass-rush is, obviously, you can get pressure on the quarterback while still leaving seven defenders to cover the offense’s five eligible receivers. The Giants’ pass rush takes that a step further. The biggest reason this team upset the Packers in the divisional round was that the Packers felt compelled to counter the four-man rush with near-max protection, which kept two running backs in to block. That meant seven blockers against four Giants pass-rushers, and more importantly, only three receivers against seven Giants pass defenders. No wonder the Giants’ back seven did so well in coverage.

There’s no indication that the Giants’ front four will be any less spectacular this season. Jason Pierre-Paul is frighteningly gifted. Osi Umenyiora, who finally got a restructured contract that turned out to be the ultimate compromise (he gets $6 million this season and the freedom to hit free agency next season), is still staggeringly quick (in part because he anticipates snap counts as shrewdly as any defensive end in football). Justin Tuck had only five sacks last season, but there isn’t an offensive coordinator in the league who’d feel good about his right tackle blocking Tuck one-on-one. Tuck has the strength and mechanical proficiency to be effective as an inside rusher on passing downs, which is what makes room for linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka to turn the corner as a situational edge-rusher.

Great as the Giants’ front four is against the pass, it can be equally voracious against the run. Pierre-Paul and Tuck are both tremendous on the playside and backside. Defensive tackle Chris Canty is a beast who often commands some sort of double team just because of his athletic build (6-7, 304). Linval Joseph is an emerging run-stopper with a knack for shedding blocks and identifying play designs. Behind Joseph is Marvin Austin, a second-round pick who missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle. Some felt that Austin, coming out of North Carolina, had first-round-type talent. Because Austin hasn’t played in two years (NCAA violations led to a ban for all of 2010), the Giants felt compelled to bring back veteran Rocky Bernard and sign Shaun Rogers for security. Bernard, at his best, can be surprisingly fluid for a 308-pounder. The 350-pound Rogers, at his best, can be a game-changer.

It’s hard to imagine run defense being much of a problem given the embarrassment of riches along the defensive line. Then again, this team’s proverbial weakness at middle linebacker the past few years has managed to nullify plenty of good defensive fronts before. Because Greg Jones was simply too slow, and Mark Herzlich too vulnerable against play-action (and banged up late), the Giants brought in journeyman castoff Chase Blackburn last November to fill the middle duties. Blackburn managed to survive (even making a critical interception in the Super Bowl), but in the Giants’ perfect world, this year’s off-season pickup, Keith Rivers, would capture the middle job. Rivers, a former No. 9 overall pick, couldn’t stay healthy and never lived up to expectations in Cincinnati. He has spent most of his football life playing on the outside but has too much natural ability not to beat out iffy competition inside.

Of course, even if Rivers does win the starting Mike job, he may not play much because the Giants’ base defense is not actually their 4-3, it’s really their 4-2 big nickel package. Michael Boley, who is very fluid in underneath coverage (particularly outside the numbers), is the critical nickel ‘backer, calling the signals and playing both run and pass. Jacquian Williams, a fluid sixth-round rookie last season, also draws nickel duties, though he must improve his run recognition if he’s to see regular snaps over the long term.

The Giants’ nickel package is described as "big nickel" because it features a third safety rather than a third cornerback. Last year, it was veteran Deon Grant who worked alongside the hard-hitting Kenny Phillips and the supremely important and versatile Antrel Rolle. But with Grant unsigned, 2011 sixth-round pick Tyler Sash will fill the third safety duties. Sash’s playing time will depend on how comfortable he is in coverage. He’ll need to be able to defend tight ends man-to-man and also pick up quick receiving backs out of the backfield (the Giants often actually prefer to put a safety on a running back and leave a linebacker on a tight end -– even if it’s a superstar tight end). If he can’t, ex-Redskin Chris Horton or talented-but-high-risk undrafted free agent Will Hill could get a look.

The Giants will be counting on Sash to prove reliable, because their plan to play more traditional nickel packages this season has already run into problems now that Terrell Thomas is expected to miss the season again. Luckily, it’s a cornerbacking group that, thanks to the four-man pass-rush, already overachieves because it has extra bodies and, thus, the luxury of pressing receivers at the line even when playing zone or off-man. First-round pick Prince Amukamara is healthier and more experienced than he was a year ago, and the Giants will have to give him a longer leash with Thomas and Aaron Ross both off the roster. Also in the mix is third-round rookie Jayron Hosley, whom scouts say has the ideal skills to be a slot nickel corner. And, of course, at outside corner is Corey Webster, who is not quite of shutdown quality but, in this scheme, has been able to successfully defend No. 1 receivers one-on-one.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter Steve Weatherford and kicker Lawrence Tynes form one of the more reliable special-teams tandems in the league. Both have performed well in big moments. Jerrell Jernigan wasn’t trusted as a rookie and got just eight kick returns last season, but he should get first crack at both punt and kick return duties in 2012. If he struggles, a window could open for Domenik Hixon, who was effective in this role before tearing his right ACL in 2010 and again in 2011.

BOTTOM LINE

The Giants have gotten deeper in some spots and shallower in others. But that’s a side note, as this team’s success derives from its underrated coaching staff, Eli Manning and his receivers, and the defensive line. Those areas have only gotten stronger -- but history says that may not translate to more victories.

Posted by: Andy Benoit on 31 Jul 2012

22 comments, Last at 06 Aug 2012, 12:08pm by Independent George

Comments

1
by mansteel (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 11:13pm

Thorough, accurate analysis. As someone who watches the Giants very closely, I did not disagree with a single player analysis (though I wish you had given Corey Webster more credit--he may not be a "shutdown corner" a la Revis but he's a darn good one) and there were a couple that I wholeheartedly agree with but have never seen elsewhere, such as David Baas often being overpowered and Osi's skill at anticipating the snap count.

By the way, Tyler Sash has been suspended for four games for using Adderall (seriously) so it looks like Deon Grant will reprise his big-nickel role.

Nice treatment of how the Giants' hallmark stability helps them to succeed, too.

4
by Dean :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:04pm

He CLAIMS he was using Adderall. Just because he says it, doesn't mean it's true. The league hasn't said one way or another for privacy reasons, so he can say pretty much whatever he wants in order to defend his name.

2
by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/01/2012 - 11:31pm

If Eli Manning stays healthy, as well as all those defensive linemen, then playing the Giants in January is going to be a tough assignment, no matter whose stadium the game is played in.

3
by Will Peterson (not verified) :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 1:14am

Great analysis I question only a couple things though:

1. You say Bradshaw is one of the best 3rd down backs in the league. He has filled that role in the past but last year it was usually D.J Ware on 3rd downs. I suspect it will be Bradshaw early and often to start the season. Once Wilson proves himself as a pass blocker and with the playbook I think they will use him as a change of pace back with D.J Ware or Andre Brown holding down the 3rd down back spot.

2. Shaun Rogers will not be at his game changing best and hasn't been for many years. He is a body. If he makes the team it will be to spell on running downs.

3. I don't think the Giants are looking at Rivers for the MLB spot. Blackburn is the starter and Herzlich is going to give him all he's got for that spot this training camp. Blackburn knows the playbook as well as anyone but Boley, the Giants like him. Herzlich is confident he can play at the NFL level and had a productive offseason. If he stays healthy he could turn into a nice player. They obviously like Rivers but Blackburn and Herzlich are battling for the starting MLB position.

Go Big Blue!

19
by armchair journe... :: Sat, 08/04/2012 - 2:40am

Appropriate (if dated) to begin a comment thread on the Giants with consecutive comments from a Will Allen and Will Peterson tandem.

//AJMQB

5
by theslothook :: Thu, 08/02/2012 - 9:52pm

I still don't believe Eli is elite. Notice how much people laughed at his comments about being in the same convo as tom brady right up until he won the sb. I guarantee, if he had lost, NO one would still be saying he's elite. Now that hes won a sb, hes elite?

I have no problem with eli. I actually happen to think he's going to get even better in the future and have a chance at being elite. I suppose part of the problem is defining elite, but in all honesty, if we consider the difference between manning(P), Brady, Brees, and Rodgers as fairly negligible, eli doesn't fit that category in the same way neither does Rivers or Big Ben(who incidentally, has an even better statistical and playoff pedigree than eli).

I accept that eli is a good guy, but his receivers are excellent, his defense played very well down the stretch and even the giants as a team caught a ton of breaks. In fact, for both postseasons the giants have won, its been their defense that has dominated, less so the offense(outside of the nfc champ game in 2007).

I like eli, but this sure feels like the super bowl winner sauce clouding judgments.

6
by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 1:37am

If only he had more swagger......

8
by ArthuroMolenda :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 5:43am

I agree he isn't "elite", he isn't part of the top tier of QB : Brady, Brees, Rodgers, P. Manning if he comes back.
He's amongst the 2nd tier, with Roethlisberger, Romo, Rivers, Ryan, maybe Stafford if he keeps it up.
What's sure though is that he's as important to his team as any player in the league. W/o Manning, we were a 4-12 team in 2011.

I don't understand the "but his receivers are excellent" though ... Colston/Meachem/Moore, Jennings/Nelson, White/Jones, Brown/Wallace, Johnson (he is a duo on his own) ... overall I don't think he has a better WR corps than most top QB.

And he doesn't have a dependable/elite TE, something many top QB have (Romo, Brees, Brady, Rivers, Ryan).

10
by theslothook :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 5:58am

Judging receivers is admittedly a massively subjective thing to do. One thing i've noticed is that if receivers are paired with a great qb, they are expected to put up big stats. When that happens, we usually say the receivers are good. If on the other hand, a successful qb uses multiple receivers in a way that no one receiver packs huge numbers, we tend to lump all the credit to the qb.

I don't think either method is really accurate however. It was said for years that manning had elite offensive receivers(P), but his stats never really changed long after harrison as gone and the colts were using garcon, collie, and later scrubs like blaire white and gjion robinson.

This really goes back to the ultimate failing of judging qbs, we still have no real way to separate qb from receiver from o line since we have no way to create data that strips things down to just the qb or the receiver or the o line.

Personally, i think eli's receivers at least last year were very good. Cruz and Nicks and manningham rounded out a potent trio and ballard was pretty good too(posted a high dyar). The o line was garbage so we give eli some brownie pts there. AS far as total offensive talent, subjectively, my ranking is 1. Gb, 2. NO, 3.NE, 4. Philly maybe, 5. Close to tie between Dallas and NY, maybe dallas slight edge with slightly worse receivers but better o line and run game.

15
by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 11:08am

Rivers fits that category quite well until last year. Anyway, here's a look at the top-8 QBs that have played the last four years. I picked 2008 as it is Rodgers first year as a starter. I could have gone back to 2007 or 2006, but in NFL speak, that's almost a generation ago. This does include Brady and Peyton both missing a season. This is just their rank:

(it should be read: Player X: 08DVOA/08DYAR...09DV/09DY...10DV/10DY...11DV/11DY

Rodgers: 14/12...8/9...4/4...1/2

Brees: 3/1...3/4...10/6...2/1

Brady: N/A...2/1...1/1...3/3

Peyton: 2/2...5/3...6/3...N/A

Rivers: 1/3...1/2...3/2...8/7

Ben: 27/26...8/8...2/7...11/9

Eli: 9/8...10/11...20/14...9/8

Romo: 11/11...7/7...11/19...4/4

Romo's 19 is skewed since he missed like 9 games in 2010. Ben also missed four games in 2010, so that 7 could've been higher. Th real shocker is that by DVOA/DYAR Ben was a lower-tier starter in 2008, the year he won the Super Bowl. It fits what I remember from stats, but that Steelers team had a truly awful o-line.

Anyway, by this, there are clearly two buckets. In terms of consistency, Brady, Manning and Rivers have been the best QBs, never placing worse than 3rd, 6th and 8th in any one stat in any year. Brees is close, as his lowest was 10th place in DVOA in 2010 (a season people seem to have totally excused Brees for having - what with his 22 interceptions). Rodgers has clearly made consistent improvement, and is now clearly in that top class. Ben, Eli and Romo are next. Romo is the best by advanced stats. Roethlisberger had the best individual season (2010). They are all about the same, but I think DVOA/DYAR overrates Romo and underrates Ben and Eli.

So, is Eli elite? It depends on the definition. Is he one of the top-8 starters in the NFL? Well, it depends if you would pick Eli over Stafford/Romo? I would. If your definition of elite is top-5, then probably not.

16
by theslothook :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 1:32pm

I agree with your overall assessment, but i hate dvoa and dyar being used to assess individual players. I know Fo explicitly states not to, but i find it terribly misleading. The best example is drew brees and the huge disparity between his 2009 and 2010 numbers and then his 2011 numbers.

17
by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 1:41pm

There's a huge disparity because Brees was worse in 2010. He had incredible seasons in both 2009 and 2011, but in 2010 his completion percentage, y/a, td% were all down, while his interceptions were way up. There's a reason why conventional stats also say Brees was a worse QB in 2010: because he was.

18
by theslothook :: Sat, 08/04/2012 - 12:07am

Was he worse? or if you'll notice, in 2010 his run game was abysmal, his defense got fewer turnovers, and his wr were in and out of the lineup.

I just think its too easy to suggest brees was the issue and the rest of the roster was humming. I think it was the same old brees and the team got worse.

20
by dmstorm22 :: Sat, 08/04/2012 - 11:04am

Meachem, Henderson, Colston, Moore and Jimmy Graham missed a total of five games. Yes, his RBs were in and out, but the targets were there and so were the lineman.

I don't think it is unfair to say that Drew Brees had, for him, a less than great season. Manning had the same type of year in 2010. He actually had WRs in and out of the lineup and no run game.

Rivers just had an off year. Much like Brees in 2010. It happens. The question is will Rivers rebound close to how Brees did.

21
by theslothook :: Sat, 08/04/2012 - 2:54pm

To be honest: 2010 is actually why i believe the disparity between P. Manning and Drew brees is so high. The untold story of the 2010 saints offense was the fact that their run game was number 1 in 2009 and promptly fell to 22. I believe the saints use the run game to set up all of their clever formation attacks and use so many of those receiver, tight end, and rb screens to open up their deep attacks. In other words, while i like drew brees alot, i wonder if he's more scheme dependent than people might realize.

As for manning, 2010 indy was the third most injured offense in the league that year. their o line was abysmal(both the narrative and by pff numbers), their receivers were out all year and so were his rbs. The fact that he still put up very good numbers isn't just amazing, its a shining example of why we can't just cross compare qbs as if their systems or circumstances are the same. P Manning was as good in 2010 as he was in 09 or 08 or 07, his team just got worse. And the 2011 colts were actually a less injured better version of the 2010 team, they just missed manning and fell of a cliff. 2010 and 2011 proved to me beyond a doubt that manning is a shade above every other qb I've seen(though now i think the mantle has passed to rodgers)

7
by bubqr :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 4:00am

Very optimistic review of the OL - There's a reason why they were that bad, Diehl was putrid, Baas pretty bad, Snee was not a top 5 guard last year. I thought Beatty might have been the best of the bunch pre-injury.

9
by ArthuroMolenda :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 5:56am

Diehl was awful and I fear he'll be as bad as a RT he was a LT or LG.

Baas had a very good game in Indy vs the Pats, if he plays like this next season it'd be of great help.

Hopefully Snee gets healthier and go back to his old self. Although the possibility that it's just the beginning of the end for him is very real.

Beatty was ok at LT, I agree. His back issues maybe a major problem though.

Boothe was ok at LG, I would love for Petrus to step up and grab the starting job so we can keep Boothe as a backup (he can play all 3 inside positions).

What pisses me off is the drafting philosophy of "late round long time projects" that doesn't seem to get us anywhere.

11
by theslothook :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 6:00am

I honestly think o line is a waste to devote resources too anyway. Sure, you don't want a bears quality o line, but most o lines are made up of late round picks anyways. And furthermore, eli and other great qbs have shown you can mitigate the damage a poor o line does. Sure its not optimal, but more draft picks on the o line means less draft picks everywhere else, and the giants are pretty strong in a lot of other areas, particularly at receiver and defensive end.

12
by ArthuroMolenda :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 6:16am

I agree to a point. Obviously I don't want Reese to take a LT in the top 10 as Manning can handle some pressure.

But still, there has to be some kind of middle ground between small school 5th rounders and NFL ready top 15 picks.

Or maybe we just don't know out to scout and train O-linemen.

13
by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 8:21am

It's true; if you have a qb who is great pre-snap, getting the offense into the the right play, and who gets rid of the ball quickly, offensive line play is not nearly as important, given the degree to which receivers are protected these days.
Eli Manning does that as well as anyone these days; the people who rank Manning today who still speak of 2007 may as well be ranking automobile brands today, by speaking of the 1960 models.

14
by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 08/03/2012 - 10:33am

Manning also has an extremely quick release. He's not nearly as hard to sack as his brother, but Manning's pocket presence, scrambling and quick reads and release really make him play above the quality of his o-line. This might not have been true in 2005-2008, but as that line has regressed, Eli has stepped up in this regard.

22
by Independent George :: Mon, 08/06/2012 - 12:08pm

Eli was outstanding under pressure last season - so much so that I can't help but feel that he's due for some regression in 2012. With an average line, that regression still translates to a pro-bowl caliber production. With a terrible line, going up against the toughest schedule in the league, that translates to an average season at best.

I don't want the Giants to "over pick" an offensive lineman; I do, however, want some bodies that won't get flung to the ground with the same alarming regularity of 2011.