Though they're not going to somehow turn into a strength for this team, let's hope that the Week 3 beating in Carolina was rock bottom for the Giants' offensive line. The game feels as some sort of culmination of a steady decline for a proud unit that was labeled one of the best in the league five seasons ago. Four out of the five starters have changed so it is a moot comparison but it goes to show how far they have fallen. While the run blocking failures are nothing new, the group has always done a solid job of protecting Eli.
Until this season.
With the help of some PFF data, we take a look at the three biggest culprits so far this season. With the help of one of their "signature stats" we'll take an analytical look at Snee, Beatty and Pugh. The formula is briefly explained below, as taken from the PFF website.
Pass Blocking Efficiency- A weighted formula that combines sacks, hits and hurries (with hits and hurries three quarters the worth) relative to how man snaps an offensive guard stays in pass protection. (PBE)
Chris Snee: -7.6 (overall pass block grade through 3 weeks, 69th out of 71 G)
Week 1: -3.7
Week 2: -1.1
Week 3: -2.8
-14 pressures allowed (2nd amongst all G)
-91.1 PBE (58/59 for all qualifying G)
Snee, as we harped on over and over in 2012, has not been right since Week 9 of last season when he suffered a hip injury. It's also no coincidence that some in the media feel as though this is when the problems began for the offensive line. As the season wore on, I maintained that having Snee play out the rest of the season was not only a detriment to the 2012 squad, but also to Snee's future as a player.
It was obvious that Snee has still been dealing with some sort of hip injury and yesterday's news confirmed this much. It certainly goes a ways in explaining how a player can go from perennial all-pro to weak link (if that even applies to this group) in 10 months. Snee has been far too talented, tough and physical since day 1 for his complete downfall to be explained in any other way. It will be interesting to see what the MRI reveals and whether or not it is something that will linger for Snee for the rest of the season and whatever remains of his career. (update: Snee's MRI showed no major damage but the team noted that if the swelling did not go down in the hip then they would have to assess all of otheir options)
William Beatty: -5.2 (66th out of 73 T)
Week 1: -2.8
Week 2: 0.6
Week 3: -3.0
-15 pressures allowed (6th amongst all T)
-90.8 PBE (53/62 for all T)
There is no justification for how anyone on this group, let alone Beatty has played so far. But for the sake of "this is a guy who is in game 3 of a 5 yr/$37.5 million contract" let's try to see how we got here. It's first important to understand just how great Beatty was in 2012. His production ranked him as one of the best tackles in the game, particularly in pass blocking, according to PFF. On a per game basis, Beatty recorded a positive grade in 14/16 games with a "-0.5" grade in his other two. Overall, he finished with a pass block grade of 14.4 which was good for 14th of 80 qualifying tackles.
Fast forward to this season, when Beatty's first test of the season featured the task of matching up with DeMarcus Ware for 60 minutes. Although Beatty has blocked him in the past, 2013 is Ware's first year as a true 4-3 RDE, something that allows him to solely focus on rushing the passer. All in all, Ware bested Beatty for most of the night and was a force from LITERALLY the opening snap. While you would certainly like to see a better effort, there is no shame in getting worked over by the generation's best pass rusher. Also keep in mind that Beatty was working with James Brewer at LG instead of Kevin Boothe. The effect that this can have on assignments and blitz pickups cannot be understated. I recall several occasions in Week 1 where the two were unable to execute a simple "bump (a way to block up a DL stunt) along the offensive line.
Beatty wasn't all that bad in Week 2 and his efforts resulted in the positive grade from PFF. This of course brings us to this past week's disaster, Beatty's worst since he became a full time starter in 2011. He was beat in every which way in this one. Panthers RDE Charles Johnson (ranked as the 2nd best 4-3 pass rusher in 2012 and 4th best so far in 2013) had his way with Beatty in a variety of fashions. We saw him lunging forward to "reach" for Johnson far too often and we also saw him a step slow out of his pass set.
As someone who reviewed film of every snap Beatty played last year, the lack of technique was very surprising as I consider him to be a well above average player in this regard. He has been a patient pass blocker (a CRUCIAL element of pass protection) who does an outstanding job of staying square to the defender in order to keep him in front of him.
Although this is now Beatty's 2nd rough go at it in three tries this season, I can't help but look back at all the stellar pass pro efforts Beatty has had in the recent past and agree with Beatty himself who said that the game was merely a blip on the radar for him.
Justin Pugh: -3.7 (62nd out of 73 T)
Week 1: -0.8
Week 2: 1.6
Week 3: -4.5
-17 pressures allowed (3rd amongst all T)
-89.9 PBE (58/62 for all T)
While three games into a rookie season is far too soon to say the book is out on someone, I'd imagine the Giants expect much better of Pugh then what he has shown so far.
As a side note--I maintain a belief that I have held since the Giants took Pugh 19th overall last April---he will be the Giants starting center in 2014 and if not they will have him lined up at guard. Many experts acknowledged that Pugh may be better suited for the interior three OL positions and with Baas' 2014 base salary up to nearly $5 million in 2014, this may be an avenue that the Giants choose to pursue.
Back to the issue at hand, Pugh looked physically overmatched and failed to show the strength needed in order to hold his ground and not lose the pocket so early in the play. Perhaps this is just because he is still very green or maybe it is related to the "short arm" issue that many raised when the Giants selected Pugh. Regardless, on several occasions in the Week 3 game, a Panthers defender (for the most part that defender was LDE Greg Hardy) found that the best way to get to the QB is right THROUGH Pugh. No one on the offensive line stands to gain or lose more than Pugh in Week 4.
The Week 4 visit to the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs puts the offensive line right back into the fire as they face an even tougher task then the game prior. Not only is Arrowhead one of the toughest places to play in the league (particularly for the offensive line) but the Chiefs pass rush has been the league's best in the young 2013 season. Through three games, the unit (all who rush the passer, not just the DL) has recorded a grade of 15.2.
The opportunity is there for the Giants' last ranked pass protection (PBE of 66.2) to quiet the critics and right the ship after last week's mess. It is also on Gilbride and Manning to make sure they do their part in "picking up" the struggling unit. They can do this by avoiding a heavy dose of 5-step and 7-step drops, at least early on in the game when the Chiefs will be most aggressive. This will be a huge boost as our tackles regain some confidence. Early success in this manner will keep the pass rush on its heels and hopefully prevent them from attacking the QB with reckless abandon.
Of course this is all dependent (and I expect this to be the case) for each player on the line to play better individually and I full expect this to be the case this upcoming Sunday, win or lose.
(As always, a big thanks to the great team at PFF for allowing us to use their stats as we provide you with the thinking man's look at the Giants)
With Snee and Baas likely out (with Diehl possibly still out)... can it actually get worse from here.
One thing's for sure. Gilbride better not expect to be able to go with the same old gameplan and hope the OL holds up. 3 step drops, slants, flares, screens are needed, as is always belabored here. He wont' do it.
Sack #5All-22 at the snap
On a 3rd & 3, Randle is running a fade or a corner route, looks like it's Manning's first read (crazy no?). Nicks has some kind of dig with a break 10y downfield while Cruz gets an out route from the slot. That's a nice concept against zone but the coverage is something like 2-Man here.
The TE's runnig an out with a 10y deep break and the RB has some kind of pattern underneath.
The defense puts Kuechly on our TE, Davis on the RB and the 3CBs are man 2 man on the WRs. All-22 2 seconds after the snap
Manning has not looked left at that point. Randle is running his deep route and won't be available anytime soon. It's a little early to checkdown so I'm guessing Manning's looking at the TE. He might be late runnig his route as the LB jammed him : no break yet from the TE. Nowhere to go at this point. All-22 3 seconds after the snap
Nothin's changed for the WR, good coverage by the CBs. The one on Nicks is about to get out of position but it doesn't matter, Manning's getting sacked.
Kuechly is all over the TE while Davis is closing fast on the RB which is on the top of his route, just on the 1st down marker.
The pocket has collapsed. Boothe is trying to stop Horton in what seems desesperate and illegal fashion. Manning (arrow) has secured the ball and getting ready for the hit. Quick sack here really, in less than 3s all is said and done so the OL is very much responsible.
Still no quick route, the closest thing is Cruz on his out, but that would be a crazy throw from the opposite hash marks to the outside of the numbers with a WR running away. Plus Cruz is stopping, the CB would jump that throw.
The only solution seems to be the RB although it's a split second throw and a DT is in the throwing lane, behind Baas. I wanna say Gillbride and the OL on this one.
So there you go, a little bit of blame for everyone. During the broadcast Billick was talking about coverage snaps. It's partly true, but considering the plays that were called, it's tough for the WR to do much.
Both play actions were absolutely useless, nobody bit on them.
Sack #4All-22 at the snap
It's a 1st & 10, both WR are running route that will get them to the 1st down marker : comeback for Cruz, post for Nicks.
There's a play action going on, Jacobs (Scott ?) then will look for someone to block and run in the flat if no one comes up. The FB runs straight ahead until 5y beyond the LoS. CAR is still in zone. 58 will blitz from Manning's right side. All-22 2 seconds after the snap
Manning's already feelint the pressure on his left, even if Beatty is doind all he can to push the DE around him. Lotulelei is beating his man, the TE on the right side seems to be handling the blitzer well.
Nicks seems like an option at this point. He's got separation and is being covered by Dratyon Florence, he should be able to beat him 1 on 1. Our friend Blackburn is underneath the would be throw though. Plus it's just 7-0 at this point. Yet I feel Manning should pull the trigger there. All-22 3 seconds after the snap
I was being nice to the OL when I wrote this was a 4s snap. This is 3s and the play is basically dead. Once again though, Manning seems to be going in protection mode quickly.
The RB is open, 5y from Manning, clear throwing lane. The closest defender is Kuechly, 10y away.
Nicks is covered, Cruz is open I think. The TE is open but Kuechly is running to him, throwing there is risking a pick or a huge hit on you TE who's a sitting duck. I wanna blame Manning there as well, it looks like the pass rush is getting to his head (Ok, hard to really "blame" a guy for that) and does see his checkdown. The RB also have a blocker (Cruz) downfield and could get some nice yardage if not a 1st down if he catches the ball. Even if he drops, it's better than the sack.
Once again no quick route like slant, dig, curl or quick out.
Just after sack #2, on a 2nd & 21. Here again we have long developing routes also it makes way more sense. Coverage is zone and CBs are playing it safe, teh FS will drop way downfield.
The TE will hit the DE on his way underneath. The RB is in pass protection, turning into a checkdown option if he has nobody to block (which will be the case).
All-22 2 seconds
after the snap
All WR are still running their route, no breaks yet. The TE did what he had to do with the DE, he's running his route, Kuechly's on him.
The RB marked a stop, most likely to ID the pass rushers and then takes off. The pocket is ok, moving backwards but mostly okay.
All-22 3 seconds
after the snap
Manning looks like he's feeling the fear, it does look like he's tucking this a little fast (MMQB on full throttle here). He kinda run inside the collapsing pocket while it's exactly where Beatty is redirecting the DE. There seems to be some space on the left, the RB is there too. We wouldn't have gotten a 3rd & 8 out of a scramble or a checkdown but it would have been better than a -7y sack.
Cruz is wide open in the middle, Randle as well but there's a CB eyeing Manning and he's standing right in the throwing lane.
The TE is double teamed by the LBs.
I think maybe
Cruz should cut inside, the S is till going backwards 2s after the snap, he only
starts coming back to Cruz 3s after the snap. Also the TE is keeping the LBs
Beatty is badly beaten. I feel Manning has a lot of responsability in this one though.
All-22 at the
That's a 1st & 10 and long developing routes are called : all breaks for receivers (WRs outside, TE on the hash marks) are 15y downfield.
The RB seems to be the checkdown in a kind of flat route.
All-22 2 seconds after the snap
- Pugh is taking care of the blitzing LB
- Pascoe as FB is working Kuechly who's more in gap control vs the RB than a pass rusher
- Lotulelei is being double teams by Baas and Boothe
- Snee is 1 on 1 vs the LDE
- Beatty is against the other DT (RDE - Hardy - dropped in coverage)
No receiver is even close to finishing is route,
Meyers could break inside where there's some room, he won't. The RB is still in
the pocket, no checkdown available.
The ride side of the line is beaten, half a second later Manning will tuck it and go down.
2.5s and the pocket is virtually gone. In a 5
vs 4 situation, that's not good.
The play action doesn't fool a-ny-one in the defense. I know our running game is bad - but that bad ? Blackburn ?
The play calling could be questionned as well, no quick route. This is the second drive so it's clear by now that pressure will get there quick. I'm guessing it's still the pregame established script being run at this point of the game but c'mon, didn't they anticipated the OL getting beat like this ?
I had a closer look at the sacks taken by Manning.
Sack 1: 3rd & 5, 2.6 seconds from the snap to the sack, 6 pass protectors vs 4 pass rushers, no blitz.
Sack 2: 1st & 10, 3.1s, 6 PP, 4PR (a DE in coverage, a LB pass rushing)
Sack 3: 2nd & 21, 3.9s, 5PP, 4PR, no blitz
Sack 4: 1st & 10, 4.1s, 7PP, 5PR (a LB blitzing)
Sack 5: 3rd & 3, 3s, 5PP, 4PR, no blitz
Sack 6: 1 & 20, 2.7s, 6PP, 4PR, no blitz
Sack 7: 3 & 11, 2.8s, 6PP, 4PR, no blitz
The accepted theory is that a sack over 3s is on the QB. So here we have a distribution that would make Gauss proud : a sack in 3s, 3 over, 3 under. Of course the crazy thing that jumps out is that we got destroyed by pretty straight forward pass rush. 6 times a sack came with 4 men rushing (and the LB wasn't disguising it at all), just one on a blitz by a LB (no disguise there neither). We always had more blockers than there were rushers and most of the time we had 2 more.
I made a quick study of the long sacks (3s and over). I'm pretty knew at football so it would be more a "tell me where I am wrong" thing than a lecture :)
Very helpful, Rich. While this positive comment on the work done here can easily be construed to be a 'homer's' praise, regulars will know that I don't do that too often. This piece really helped me to better understand the failings... More importantly, they help me to understand exactly where all three players are going forward. For Beatty, I see a guy who is a good T, not great, who will not shut down the best. And if a guy like Johnson gets a 'tell' (like in W3), good night. Snee? Toast until healthier. Pugh? Baptism by fire. And the matchup vs KC could not come at a worse time. Let's see how they respond. Call me a fool, but I believe there is enough crisis to get the proper attention and adjustments this weekend. I'm not expecting a rosé garden, but I am expecting an uptick of some sort. Once again, thanks Rich for a very good analysis of what's going on back there.
@CommanderShepard Look at ATL against MIA. Okay they ended up losing but the ball was out in 2 seconds most of the time, it completely shut down their pass rush in the beginning of the game. Of course Wake being hurt helped.
The work of the OC was nice as well. He came in passing on 65% of plays in the first drive. It was 45% in the second and then 25% in the 3rd, because they were running so well.
@Arthuro Wow-- Great breakdown on all of these. Really great stuff.
The one thing I will say with using timing the snap-to-sack and using it as an end all be all of "who the sack is on" is that it can be dangerous. Who says that he didn't first get pressured at 1.9 and was forced to shuffle in the pocket or try to escape leading to another defender getting credited with the sack some time after the 3.0 mark. While I agree it is a good rule of thumb it is also crucial the each play be judged on an individual basis by SEEING exactly what went on. There were a few like this in the Car game. Just using names as an example, lets say Snee gets beat and his man "gets to" Eli at the 2.2 mark and eli gets out of his grasp and just a quick second later, Beatty's man is right in Eli's face for a sack.