We have distilled football success down to 3 key elements:
2) Protect QB
3) Rush the QB
How can it be that simple? Of course there are plenty of other bodies on the football field. And you can’t win without 53 guys and solid coaching. But in today’s NFL if you can’t do those 3 things well, it really doesn’t matter what else is going on with your team. Everything else is in service of your core: QB, Protect QB, Rush the QB.
All decisions flow from those 3 elements. If you’re drafting in the top 10-20 spots in the draft, the best value is going to be QB, T, and EDGE. And if the draft isn’t providing you with one of those 3 options, trade down. If I hear one more time, ‘well, there may not be a good enough trade at that spot,’ my answer is- there are roughly 40-60 trades of draft picks from year to year AND the Giants organization has not traded DOWN in 15 years. Last year there were 25 trades made on the day of the draft alone. So stop apologizing for the disinterest and lack of understanding of this avenue from this franchise’s leadership.
Note how Free Agency does not easily present good, young, QB’s T’s and EDGE rushers. GMs have generally figured out these priorities. When you look at the pay scale, their dollars have certainly figured this out. GMs don’t let the 3 key elements come to the market (if they are any good) after their first contract. Look at the top 5 paid positions in the NFL. It reinforces the critical need to get those players early in the draft when you can.
QB pressures allowed by the Giants OL this past season, by game:
PIT 20 CHI 6 SF 11 LAR 11
DAL 17 WAS 9 PHI 9 TB 17
WAS 12 PHI 8 CIN 6 SEA 6
AZ 14 CLE 9 BAL 20 DAL 7
That totals 182 pressures. When you divide that by pass attempts, Giant pressures allowed this past season were the 2nd worst in the NFL. We admittedly got optimistic after the SEA win, saying the worst was behind the team. It starts with QB and protecting the QB. So what do the last 4 games of the season mean? They are a reminder that much work needs to be done.
A) Zeitler, the best lineman on the Giants last year, is gone.
B) Thomas played hurt. How good will he be if he plays w/o injury?
C) Peart was up and down. Can he become the bookend to Thomas?
D) Lemieux was the worst ranked Guard in PFF’s rankings last season.
E) Hernandez is currently a bust. Can off-season training and new coaches salvage his career?
F) Can new coaches develop NY Giants’ OL draft prospects?
G) Can time enable these prospects to come together as a unit and play better than the sum of their parts?
This unit is still the weakest link. Solder is mostly on the tail, so the rest of the line is very young. Given that PFF graded them #31 in the NFL and their QB pressures allowed % also had them at #31 in the NFL, there is a lot of improvement needed. Some argue that w skill players (Golladay et al) giving Jones better options, this will help the OL. To a degree, yes. But most of the work will lay squarely on these men to improve.
DO NOT RELY ON WHAT IS THERE. KEEP DRAFTING OFFENSIVE LINE HARD. THREE MORE OL DRAFT PICKS. COMPETITION. DEPTH. MORE IS BETTER. THERE ARE TOO MANY QUESTIONS (stated above). SHEER NUMBERS WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM. And if the solution is already present, what’s the harm in having depth when injuries invariably happen?! Fix the OL for good. Zeitler’s position needs to be replaced. Hernandez + Lemieux are 1 (and maybe 2) roster spots. Solder’s in the last year of his aging contract. And let’s get some insurance on Peart. That’s 4 reasons to draft more bodies. A lot more.