Mike Garafolo of the Star Ledger spent some time talking with each of the key offensive linemen on this year's model and what was reported is inspiring.
It seems the left side of the offensive line will be made over. The Giants want David Diehl to move to guard and second year player William Beatty to start at left tackle. I found both men's comments to be solid and focused. Beatty in particular sounds like he is maturing ahead of schedule. Diehl is still the tough, dependable, slow afoot warrior he has always been. He is adamant that he wants to play tackle and is the best man for the job. He has some credit, as he made the pro bowl last year and his desire is high.
The offensive line was, in a word, offensive last year. There were injuries. Beatty was rookie. McKenzie was injured again and his level of play dropped noticeably. O'Hara and Snee both had off seasons although Snee is one of the top offensive guards in the game. Rich Seubert (who is in my opinion a miracle) is back after another injury that ended his season early and required off season surgery. He says he is ready and healthy. He says he isn't planning on backing up anyone. He says he wants to start and that is inspiring. This is a man who was so severely injured years ago that his career was thought over and indeed he missed more than two seasons. It is incredible that Rich was able mentally and physically to return to the game and play a big role on a line that won a Super Bowl. The fact that he is primed, locked and loaded for another season has to inspire everyone around him.
The Giants went from a very good running game to a very bad running game in what seems overnight. In 2008, when Jacobs/Ward/Bradshaw were healthy and the line was doing it's job, the Giants were very formidable. In 2009 a number of things went awry:
- Ward lost to free agency (a mistake)
- Injuries to Jacobs, Bradshaw, Ware and Brown
- The offensive line playing hurt and going through the motions
- An offensive coordinator who can't figure out what happened, how to score inside the twenty or how to use his players to their strengths
It would be surprising under all of those conditions if there WAS a running game!
The pass protection was adequate but not great. Eli had a very good season and our corp of young outstanding receivers were great! Steve Smith set an all time Giant reception record. Boss, Nicks (when healthy) and a resurrected Manningham are real weapons. I can't think of another team in the NFL with a more dangerous bunch than the Giants. All this, and we get to see if Barden is ready for prime time too. If he is then we will be hard to stop.
We drafted Mitch Petrus, a kid out of Arkansas in the 5th round who I really like. He is 305 pounds, nasty, fierce, quick and he was in my opinion a steal. Adam Koets is the train wreck that just won't go away (it will be a positive sign if/when he gets cut). If McKenzie can contribute and we stay healthy it looks like we can get the job done. The failure or success of this unit is largely predicated on Beatty. If he can play well we become a new, younger, faster, better offensive line.
The good news is that the guys want redemption. Let us all see the Giants get that resurgence this year.