Many fans may remember just a few seasons ago when the New York Giants offensive line was one of the most dominant lines in all of football. It was anchored by David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara, Chris Snee, and Kareem McKenzie. Many of us took for granted how consistent that line was at not only giving Eli Manning a clean pocket, but also having the physicality to get into the second level of opposing defenses to open up holes for running backs like Tiki Barber and the infamous earth, wind, and fire combo of Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Derrick Ward.
Unfortunately, those days are gone and what was once the identity of this team is now it’s biggest weakness. For the last two seasons the offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL in both pass and run blocking and has forced Manning to constantly force throws before plays can develop due to the lack of time he has in the pocket. The unexpected retirement of Pro Bowl right guard Chris Snee this past training camp due to lingering injuries left general manager Jerry Reese scrambling for a viable replacement.
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One attempt by Reese to rectify the lingering line issues this season was the free agency signings of left guard Geoff Schwartz and right guard John Jerry. Schwartz was sidelined until this past Monday with a dislocated toe and Jerry has been mediocre at best.
Schwartz’s impending return this Sunday versus the Dallas Cowboys could provide a huge boost to a line desperate for help but will still be dealing with injury now that right tackle Justin Pugh is dealing with a strained quad suffered two weeks ago versus the Seattle Seahawks. It was re-aggravated last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers and could pose a serious problem for the remainder of the season. This means more shuffling along an offensive line that is already struggling to develop any sort of consistency.
Many have been quick to point fingers at Manning and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo for the Giants’ struggles on offense when the core problem is the poor offensive line play. Without a stable line up front, Manning cannot get into any sort of rhythm with his receivers and must get rid of the football sooner than expected, creating costly turnovers.
The poor line play has severely limited something the Giants have long been known for and that is a power rushing attack. Without it, this offense has no identity which leads to a lack of confidence in this new system which leads to miscues and inconsistencies moving the ball at an efficient pace.
If the Giants ever wish to improve, the offensive line must be addressed first and foremost this coming off season. Drafting center Weston Richburg this past draft was a good start and left tackle Will Beatty has rebounded from an awful 2013 season, but it will take a few more pieces to bring the once dominant Giants offensive line back to prominence.