Current State Of The Giants' Offensive Line
At the end of the 2013 NFL season, New York Giants owner John Mara said the team’s offense was “broken.” At the heart of the Giants’ offensive struggles was the play of their offensive line. In this piece we’ll look at the current state of the Giants offensive line. The team made several personnel changes to the unit in the offseason, and there are a several Giants holders we should keep a sharp eye on as the offseason rolls forward.
A New Starting Left Guard
The Giants started rebuilding their offensive line by signing G Geoff Schwartz to a four-year, $16.8 million dollar deal ($6.2 million guaranteed). Schwartz was considered one of the best guards available in the free-agent market, and the Giants brass expect Schwartz to be a solid replacement of long-time Giants offensive lineman David Diehl, who retired at the end of the 2013 season.
Battle For The Starting Center Position
Near the beginning of the offseason, the Giants decided to release veteran C David Baas. In their attempt to address the open center position, the team signed center J.D Walton to a two-year, $5 million dollar deal ($3 million guaranteed). Walton hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2012 season due to an ankle injury, but he will be given ample opportunity to win the starting job at center.
Last month the Giants selected Colorado State C Weston Richburg with their second-round pick in the NFL Draft. Richburg was considered the most highly-rated center in the 2014 NFL Draft, and it should be an interesting battle between Walton and Richburg for the starting center position. Walton is currently slotted to be the Giants’ starting center, but I don’t think that is set in stone. Training camp and preseason should settle this position battle.
The Health Of Chris Snee
Snee is set to play in his 11th season in the NFL, all with the New York Giants after being drafted by the team in 2004. Snee took a significant pay cut this offseason and hopes to stay healthy in 2014 after having an injury plagued 2013 season. Snee is one of the leaders on the team, especially for the offensive line. If he can stay healthy this season, it would be a step in right direction towards improving the offensive line’s play in 2014.
Avoiding The Sophomore Slump
Second-year RT Justin Pugh was the sole bright spot on the Giants’ offensive line. Pugh started at right tackle in all 16 games for the Giants last season and was named to the Pro Football Writers Association’s All-Rookie Team.
This offseason Pugh put on 10 pounds of muscle, and looks determined to build on a strong rookie season while avoiding a sophomore slump in 2014. If Pugh can continue to improve and Snee can stay on the field, the Giants right side of the line should be much improved this upcoming season.
Make Or Break Year For Beatty
This is a make or break year for Giants LT Will Beatty. Beatty is entering his sixth year with the team, and has been the starting left tackle for over two seasons. Beatty’s play has been marked by inconsistency. I wonder if the Giants would have selected Michigan OT Taylor Lewan with the 12th pick if was still on the board. Either way, Beatty has to have a solid year in 2014 since it seems he is on thin ice at the moment.
Beatty suffered a leg injury near the end of the 2013 season, and he is slated to miss OTAs and mini-camp this month as a precautionary measure. Beatty should be ready to go come training camp later this summer.
New Players And A New Offense
Amidst the Giants reconstruction of their offensive line, the team also has a new offensive coordinator implementing a new offensive system. The Giants’ new offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, is implementing a variation of the west coast offense which brings a new style and terminology to the Giants’ offensive attack. The revamped offensive line has to adjust to a much more uptempo style and an increase in the use of the screen game.
Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty has a lot on his plate this offseason. He has to coach new players in a new scheme with the heightened pressure to fix the woes of the offensive line. Flaherty’s extensive experience as a coach will be a huge factor toward getting the offense to play at its best when the real games start. The Giants’ playoff aspiration this upcoming season probably rest upon the play of the offensive line. They should be improved but by how much remains to be seen.