Saturday, April 7, 2012
Weekend mailbag: Giants O-line thoughts
By Dan Graziano
Another week over, another Saturday upon us, another trip into the mailbag to see what's on your mind.
Miguel from San Diego wants to know why everyone assumes the New York Giants would move David Diehl to right tackle to replace Kareem McKenzie rather than move Will Beatty there and keep Diehl on the left side: "I feel like, when Diehl stepped in, he did a better job than Beatty and he's now been protecting Eli Manning's blind side for the past two seasons.[Manning] 's got to feel comfortable with Diehl on the left."
Dan Graziano: Interesting point, Miguel, and it's certainly one possible solution if the Giants don't find a starting-caliber tackle in the draft later this month. But while it's true the Giants' line played better as a unit after the Beatty injury when Diehl moved from guard to tackle, I didn't see much to indicate that Diehl's individual performance at left tackle graded out better than Beatty's had. Diehl played fine, don't get me wrong, but I think a lot of their success had to do with how well Kevin Boothe played at left guard and the way the group came together as a whole. Regardless, the reason they'd likely move Diehl to the right side rather than Beatty is if they still believe Beatty can be their long-term solution at left tackle. Diehl turns 32 in September and isn't the long-term solution anywhere. I personally didn't see much from Beatty to indicate he's a long-term left tackle fix, but it's possible (and reasonable) the Giants might want to see more before making that judgment. Finally, Diehl has always been willing to move around to different positions on the line when needed, and he might respond better to such a move than Beatty, who could view it as a demotion.
Hamad from Kansas City asks whether it would make sense for the Dallas Cowboys to extend the contract of cornerback Mike Jenkins if he plays LIGHTS OUT this year. (The caps are Hamad's, not mine.)
DG: Yeah, I think Jenkins will be their best cornerback this year if he can stay fully healthy. He played very well in 2011 when he wasn't being affected by his various injuries, and if he can get through 2012 without getting hurt, he'd be a strong candidate for an extension, even with Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick already signed long-term. I don't think they have much committed to Scandrick beyond this season.
Patrick from Elkins, WV wants to know what the Washington Redskins are planning to do about the offensive line. He's concerned about the safety of Washington's rookie quarterback-to-be.
DG: They tried early in free agency on guys like Ben Grubbs and Demetress Bell, but those guys signed elsewhere (and the second one changed his name so other interested teams couldn't find him). Now, it seems as though their free-agency efforts are focused on re-signing guys like London Fletcher and Tim Hightower and continuing to find help for the secondary. This leads me to believe they're planning to look for offensive linemen with their third-round and fourth-round draft picks and hope for quick recoveries and sustained health from Kory Lichtensteiger and Jammal Brown. They really liked the way last year's line was playing before the injuries to Brown, Lichtensteiger and Trent Williams hit around Week 6, and if all of those guys are fully healthy, they could go with the same five. That's a big "if," though, and so I believe they'll work hard on offensive line in the draft and maybe find a late flier on the free-agent market who can help. The Philadelphia Eagles picked up Evan Mathis late last year, and he became a big part of the success their line had. So it's possible.
P. Quinn of Absaraka, ND wants to know how much of a dropoff Demetress Bell will be from Jason Peters as the Eagles' left tackle.
DG: The first part of the answer is that almost any tackle in the league would be a significant dropoff from Peters, who was the very best there was last year. Peters can take out a defensive end in a second and then get to the second level and attack linebackers to clear room for the running back or help an intermediate receiver get or stay open. He's a perfect fit with Michael Vick, too, since Vick likes to keep plays alive much longer than most quarterbacks do. Bell played in Buffalo, where quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick gets rid of the ball as quickly as any quarterback in the league. So it's hard to know how he'll do with Vick playing behind him and running around all day to keep plays alive forever. He's athletic enough to handle it, but he'll have to get used to it, and that's something we'll have to watch in the offseason and in training camp. He won't be as good as Peters, because very few are. But he's got the ability to be a solid replacement, assuming he can get up to speed quickly on the differences between the way the Eagles play and block versus the way those things are done in Buffalo.