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George Young vs. JR - how to fix the offensive line

MikeN in Ottawa : 9/24/2013 8:17 am
Two examples of how to replenish an offensive line once it is evident the current line is declining...

In 1987, after Super Bowl XXI, The Suburbanites began to decline rapidly. Age plus the illness to right tackle Karl Nelson forced Giants' GM George Young and Head coach Bill Parcells to start to draft to rebuild that line. From 1987 through 1989 the Giants completely revamped their offensive line...only Bart Oates remained as the starter for both Super Bowls XXI and XXV. The Giants spent 9 draft picks on offensive linemen in those three years....3 each year. Now, granted, the draft was longer (12 rounds)...still the offensive line became a priority with high draft choices spent on the eventual starters. Only Doug Riesenberg was what you might call a lower round draft choice...drafted in the 6th round out of California. In 1988, our top two picks were to the offensive line...Eric Moore out of Indiana and Jumbo Elliott from Michigan. Both became starters almost immediately. In 1989, once again, our top two picks went to offensive linemen...Brian Williams from Minnesota and Bob Kratch from Iowa. Young and Parcells both recognized the importance of the offensive line and that line became the first line in NFL history to average over 300 pounds per player. |It was the first true power running offensive line.

Compare that to the current Giants. It was evident after the 2010 season that the Giants offensive line was breaking down. Age and injuries forced the Giants to cut C Shaun O'Hara and LG Rich Seubert. C David Baas was signed in free agency but outside of that not much was done. Will Beatty had been a 2nd round pick in 2009 and started the year at LT. But he got injured midway through the 2011 season and David Diehl moved from LG to LT. In the three drafts since 2010, the Giants have only drafted 4 offensive linemen...none, save Justin Push, higher than the 4th round.
Instead, the current Giants philosophy seems to be to draft the OL lower and develop them. It worked with Rich Seubert and Diehl but it has not worked with Brewer and Brandon Mosely or Matt McCants.

With a future HOF QB in his prime, one would have thought the offensive line would have held a higher priority for the Giants. After all, the game's rules favour the offense yet Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin have seemingly ignored the importance of the line or overestimated the current abilities of Diehl, Chris Snee and Baas. It has proven to be a monumental mistake and the Giants are now paying the price.

This is simply to demonstrate the difference in philosophy and why we may not win another Super Bowl during the Eli Manning era unless a drastic change in philosophy by the front office takes place. The Giants, under JR, have placed a premium on the defensive line and drafting DE's in particular. They have not placed the same importance on protecting their franchise quarterback.

Young's efforts in the late 80's enabled those Giant teams to be dominant and extremely physical on offense. Those teams pounded the ball down other teams' throats and, as Bill Walsh once said "The Giants played a war of attrition" and wore down defenses. Reese's efforts are currently in evidence. The offensive line may well be the worst in the NFL...our franchise quarterback is currently getting pounded, game in and game out, and other NFL teams will surely copy what Carolina did until the Giants prove they can run the ball...which we currently cannot. It is shocking to see the numbers in terms of either zero yardage or negative gains from Sunday's game. If the offensive line is not fixed...either in off season free agency plus the draft, the Giants' will be a bottom feeder for the next few years and we will have wasted the prime years of our franchise quarterback.

I cannot underestimate the colossal mistake this has been by the Giants front office. The question is: Will JR fix it by focusing next year's draft on the offensive line or will the Giants continue their philosophy of drafting o-linemen in the lower rounds with hopes of developing them? The answer to that question may well determine the near future of the Giants.
The Giants have also had success, although limited  
BLUATHRT : 9/24/2013 8:25 am : link
with plug and play veterans. Look back to 2000, with Lomas Brown and Glen Parker. I agree, you should build a line through the draft (look at the niners recently), but it can be done as a mixture of vets and draft picks.
AcidTest : 9/24/2013 8:32 am : link
is a very good post. We have to hope that Brewer and Mosely work out.

You could make the same analysis regarding LBs. They were an emphasis during the Parcells era, but not anymore. Some drop off in emphasis was to be expected as the NFL transitioned to a passing league, but the neglect shown to that position by Reese is inexcusable.

I also agree the emphasis seems to be on drafting "projects" and hoping they develop. Mitch Petrus also fits into that category. In fact, Reese and Ross seem intent on using mid to low round draft picks to find guys who are terrific athletes they hope they can coach into football players. Robinson, Petrus, Cooper Taylor, and Kuhn all fit this category.

Reese and Ross themselves have said that at the bottom of the draft they look for guys who can do "one or two things well." That's nice, but size, strength, and speed are meaningless if the guy can't play. The NFL graveyard is littered with players who are incredible physical specimens who never did anything. This is football. It isn't the Olympics. The emphasis should always be on drafting the best football player, not the best athlete. The two are not necessarily the same.

You can't compare drafting  
Diver_Down : 9/24/2013 8:36 am : link
philosophy of Young and Reese without including Accorsi. Young's basic philosophy was Dancing Elephants. Accorsi wanted speed and of course a premium was placed on rushing the passer. Reese only learned from his predecessor and still places a premium on speed. We need more Dancing Elephants.
Great post Mike!!  
Tark10 : 9/24/2013 8:41 am : link
Now if could only get Reese to read it..
Cap'n Bluebeard : 9/24/2013 8:46 am : link
I don't agree with a lot of what you post, but the Giants and Reese ignoring offensive line talent in the draft is definitely quizzical to say the least. For a team that places such emphasis on drafting defensive line talent, one would think they would also recognize the importance of offensive line talent.

When you believe defensive success is predicated on pressuring the QB and covering receivers (to the detriment of the LB crew), the logical conclusion is that protecting the QB and having great WRs would lead to offensive success. The Giants have concentrated on 3 of these 4 areas, and it is somewhat baffling that they have, for the most part, ignored one of the two most important areas.
Amen brother  
NNJ Tom : 9/24/2013 8:46 am : link
Face it  
ada34ada : 9/24/2013 8:51 am : link
JR has built this team into a Fantasy line-up.
The bottom line is that  
Essex : 9/24/2013 8:55 am : link
depending on how you feel about Beatty, Reese has brought in one good lineman in 6 years, Kevin Boothe in 2007. After that, through neglect and a few bad picks the offensive line has been allowed to go to waste.

In 2011, we drafted Prince because he fell into our lap (a decision I applauded at the time), and let go Costanzo the guy everyone said we were going to take.

I think the philosophy of drafting the best player instead of the need has its drawbacks and we are seeing that with respect to the neglect of our OL.
Jay in Toronto : 9/24/2013 8:58 am : link
one could say we drafted for need this first round -- jury still out if we drafted the right guy. How is Long doing?
no quick fix  
Yalebowl_Ribs : 9/24/2013 8:59 am : link
but booth back to center ,mosley to right guard and brewer to left guard and live with it.
bass is done at center.

snee has nothing left because of his hip.

beaty will bounce back.

pugh has done well and will only get better.

you might see big dave at guard next to pugh for a vets help but if mosleys back is ok I think you stick him at left guard and live with it.

this line gets no better with injured plug and play vets.

time to send the kids into the fire,and I hope the team reps the short passing game this week in fact rep it to death and then rep it some more.
Here is my problem with the premise  
Deej : 9/24/2013 9:02 am : link
in the 88 and 89 drafts there were 7 and 9 OLs taken in the first two rounds, respectively. Look at the last two drafts -- in 2013 9 OLs in just the first round, and in 2012 11 OLs in the first two rounds. Fact is that teams are pouncing on OLs early and often now -- 6 of the top 11 overall picks this year were OL. So it's a lot harder for a GM to rebuild the OL quickly with high draft picks.

Also, the year after we won, in the 87 draft, our first OL was taken in the 5th round. It therefore took a season for management to come around. Well, a season after our win this time around, we took an OL in the first round. In the 2nd round, we picked at 49 and the next OL didnt go until 65, suggesting the value at OL simply wasnt available at 49 (though I concede we could have traded down). None of the OLs taken between #49 and the end of the 3rd round are starting right now (I didnt check further than that), though they certainly could start next year or deeper in the season.
i would also say i never got our lack of interest  
Essex : 9/24/2013 9:07 am : link
in Winston as a stop gap measure. if we had beatty on the LT, Boothe at LG, Bass at Center, Pugh RG, and Winston at RT, I think our line would be infinitely better. Also, even if you are that down on Bass you could have swung it around and went

Beatty, Brewer, Boothe, Pugh, Winston. Winston was obtained for the league minimum by the Cardinals. I just did not get that one.
The thing that you fail to recognize,  
barens : 9/24/2013 9:15 am : link
Is that the Giants have had nothing but good teams since Eli has been here, even the years when they missed the playoffs. It's very hard to find top offensive linemen in the late first round of the draft. People want to blame Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin, but to me, this is just the price you pay for years of success. Pittsburgh is going through it, San Diego is going through it, even New England is going through it, they just haven't played against of any significance.
Lets not forget how poor our drafting has been  
GIANTS128 : 9/24/2013 9:15 am : link
over the last several years. To many swings and misses during the middle rounds. The middle rounds is where the team is built...those are generally the guys who never end up be stars but play solid enough to let your premier player shine.
Its unfortunate that...  
silverfox : 9/24/2013 9:16 am : link
...upper management believes that the key to the promises land is Eli Manning, but they've never put a priority on keeping him out of the hospital. He's been lucky....SO FAR.

The chickens have come home to roost. I will also say that the current OL has no fight or ppride in them, despite whatever physical skills they have or don't have. If I saw my QB getting his brains beat in....I'd be a little pissed as an OL. I would be looking to take somebody's head off.

The current problem is a combination of physical limitations and most of all....what's above the neck.

Injuries cloud the aging picture  
nicky43 : 9/24/2013 9:23 am : link
I agree with the concept that Reece has not put enough emphasis on the o-line. And to me, the o-line is THEE key to winning so I'm never happy with our picks unless all the top picks are used for those positions. The o-line protects your most important player, the QB, and it defines the running game. Without a good o-line your dead as seen by us so far this year and by Pittsburgh experiencing the same o-line problems, both 0-3.

So how does a GM ignore it? I don't think he does but I do think he failed to look far enough ahead and/or to recognize that age and not injuries is what was hurting our veteran lineman. It must be hard to spot this because the players are not going to tell you the truth. They are not going to tell you I just can't do it any more and they will point to injuries as the problem.

It must be hard to determine where to draw the line and give up on a Vet who has been so productive for you, and whose production you want so much to see again. This problem doesn't exist with receivers and runners because you can measure their speeds from year to year and it is much more obvious when a player of those positions are done. I think both TC and JR simply missed the boat on this one and continued to believe the line would be good with just a little beefing up.

Had they realized this was a major problem as I'm sure they do now, I have no doubt that they would have moved up in the draft to take a much better O-lineman than the one we got stuck with for our low first round draft pick and the Nassib pick in the 4th round would have been another o-line guy. I'm still scratching my head on that one. It also sucks that in a year when NYG is definitely going to go O-Line pick in the first round, so does just about every other team picking before us.

IMO.... the day George Young left the Giants  
EricJ (formerly Tyleraimee) : 9/24/2013 9:32 am : link
is the day Acorsi began to turn this team into a soft one. More finesse vs power. Now, one could argue that there were moments in time where we looked like a power team (ie 2007). However, for the most part Acorsi along with Reeves began turning us into an AFC team. For those of you who remember what I am talking about, back in the day the NFC would try to run right over you while the AFC would try to run around you using their speed.

Today, we hear a lot about how the game has changed. It has become more of a passing game. However, there is a difference between having the ability to pass if you have to vs being a pass first offense. Right now, we are looking at our team that has had no ability to run between the tackles in about 3 years and often gets completely run over on defense. Our DE's are really one down players (3rd and long) and lately have not been getting that done either. When Osi was here, he could not stop the run. Any chance that a George Young, Parcells and Belichik would have a defensive end who was "limited"? I dont think so. Our guys were solid against the run or pass. All of them. Right down to the guys who received little press (ie Gary Reasons).

Right now, Belichik is still building his team with guys who are tough. Tough, smart football players first. If you do not fit that mold, you are not on the team...period. No room for pansies who perform well at the combine. No "projects".

I am willing to give up the next couple of years if we can just cut loose all of the physically and mentally weak players regardless of the cost and start to build brick walls on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Locklear's injury  
DG : 9/24/2013 9:35 am : link
last year was unfortunate. He'd still be useful if healthy.
OL Rebuild  
Percy : 9/24/2013 9:49 am : link
Perceptive, informative post. Can this management get the point? And pick the right guys? Locklear was good and the Pugh pick shows promise, so maybe it's possible, but probably not (see Baas pickup, Brewer, Cordle, Beatty, Mosley, retention of Snee, Diehl, and the other OL picks we've already let go). Grade on OL picks: F -- not NFL-worthy. Remedy: get someone else to evaluate and pick from here on in.
Wow, this thread is getting  
barens : 9/24/2013 9:50 am : link
Bad quickly. Btw, those offensive linemen George Young drafted, we're hardly world beaters, and with the exception of Jumbo Elliott, the rest were very average, and didn't exactly do much to help the Giants after the 1990 season.
Champ46 : 9/24/2013 9:53 am : link
this is a very good post. My only disagreement with your premise is that it is very difficult to compare drafting philosphies from different eras when the game has changed so much. We don't necarrily need a mauling line, but at least an average line that can protect our franchise QB. One of things your post highlights to me is that this is the downfall of JR's take the best player available and ignore a glaring need approach. Sometimes you have to say we need an O line or LB and if there is someone we think doesn't have the right value at a certain pick then you have to consider trading back a few spots and acquiring an additional pick and a player of need (not that I have any knowledge that this didn't happen). Now I'm not advocating that a stud like JPP falls in our lap we don't take him, but you have to be able to look at the next few seasons and see we have no above average (unless you like Beatty) on the o line or LB.
at the time JPP was not a totally known entity  
alligatorpie : 9/24/2013 9:59 am : link
a better example would be a JJ Watt.

and look at JPP now. even on a need vs bpa basic, the "B" in bpa is subject to biases
I think over the past 3 years or so,  
alligatorpie : 9/24/2013 10:02 am : link
tackles and also even guards have risen in the early rounds faster than this team expected,

leaving, say, the round 2 quality or value measure at these positions in question.

I do agree with the premise though, have been pushing it for years. first three rounds, pick from a bpa pool consisting of:

Good post Mike  
Matt in SGS : 9/24/2013 10:14 am : link
Young's style of drafting OL was, as said above, the Dancing Elephants or his Planet Theory (ie- there are only so many big men on the planet who can play football well, so you draft them). Young also was a fan of cluster drafting at areas of need/development. The examples you listed for the Moore/Jumbo and Williams/Kratch. He would also do that at other positions (Greg Jackson and Myron Guyton at safety and Derek Brown and Aaron Pierce at TE). Believing that the draft was a crapshoot, he wanted to be sure that he increased his odds on landing a good player at the position of need.

But you also need to keep in mind, back in the 1980s, as Young built his teams, he didn't have free agency. Plan B was kind of a joke (though the Giants landed 2 of the best signings of its era in Reyna Thompson and Chris Calloway). Reese (and Accorsi) had more options to work with, even with a salary cap.

However, and I think Bobby's Humphries Earpad (one of my favorite handles, btw) made a great point and I agree with it. Reese is falling in the same trap that Accorsi did in relating to the offensive line and skimping on the talent with thoughts that his coaches can "coach them up" into studs. Back in 2002, the Giants had Jim McNally as an offensive line coach, and he was one of the best in the NFL (he made his name coaching up the Bengals line with Munoz and Montoya in the 1980s). McNally took a group of undrafted free agents like Suebert and Bober and Whittle and later picks like Mike Rosenthal and had them rolling up 400 yards a game . Come 2003, Accorsi felt that the Giants needs were really on special teams and spent his money on Feagles, Kuehl, Mitchell, and Feeley and then gave McNally more trash to work with (Jeff Roehl, Ian Allen, Jeff Hatch, etc). At some point, it becomes garbage in and garbage out and the Giants offensive line collapsed and cost Fassel his job.

Now this year, somewhat similar circumstances. The Giants had phased in Beatty successfully. However, the rest of the OL was on the downswing. Boothe was a free agent who no one wanted this offseason so he came back, but he's just a guy. Baas has always been hurt. Snee and Diehl, 2 long time warriors are now broken down due to injuries. The Giants answer to this was to draft Pugh (good), but then stick a bunch of mid round picks and free agents in behind (Mosely, Cordle, Brewer, etc). Guys who are limited in talent and experience. I like Beatty, I think he's a good player who had a bad game. I think that Diehl's injury will help the Giants long term because Pugh needs to get out there. The problem is the interior of the line is a shitshow.

So what to do about this year? I think the tackles will actually turn out to be ok, Beatty and Pugh should be fine. As for the interior, they need to come up with some combination between Boothe, Snee, Baas, Brewer, Diehl, and Mosely to get some control, but this group his hardly inspiring anyone.

The good news? Tackles are tougher to find than interior linemen, and not as costly. They should be able to land some free agents at a good price and see some talented OL in the draft slide down because you generally don't draft guards and centers in the first round.
GY also operated under a different economic system.  
Victor in CT : 9/24/2013 10:17 am : link
LTs were not among the top 3 highest paid players in that era. You could stock pile OLs in the higher rounds without breaking the bank. And there was no cap to deal with.
I'm not big of 'sky is falling' posts in week 3...  
x meadowlander : 9/24/2013 10:21 am : link
...but this is a well-thought-out, very well written post.

LOVED the Roberts and Elliot picks. MAULERS.
SB : 9/24/2013 10:51 am : link
The thing that you fail to recognize,
barens : 9:15 am : link
Is that the Giants have had nothing but good teams since Eli has been here, even the years when they missed the playoffs. It's very hard to find top offensive linemen in the late first round of the draft. People want to blame Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin, but to me, this is just the price you pay for years of success.

Ok, but the OP is talking about the first three rounds. In the Eli era (10 drafts now) the Giants have used only 3 picks in those rounds on OL. Compare that to some of the other teams you mentioned. It really was playing with fire, if only because we have had no legitimate depth if a guy gets hurt.
Both used the draft and free agency  
PeterS : 9/24/2013 10:53 am : link
to build solid units.
A pick like Roberts or Williams would be considered a bust today.  
Big Blue Blogger : 9/24/2013 11:09 am : link
It took a looooong time for those guys to crack the lineup and settle in as quality starters. Under the current CBA, they'd be with their second or third team by that time. And Jeff Hostetler would have watched Super Bowl XXV in a bar in West Virginia, remembered by Giant fans roughly the way we view Ryan Nassib now.
Go Terps : 9/24/2013 11:12 am : link
I've mentioned this in the past, but you'd have to question if even Phil Simms would have seen Super Bowl XXI in today's atmosphere.
The loss of  
BigBlueCane : 9/24/2013 11:22 am : link
DG to the Panthers is one we underestimated as fans.
nah, Hostetler would have ended up starting somewhere  
Greg from LI : 9/24/2013 11:24 am : link
He might not have been a particularly good starter, but he was as good as some of the journeyman types of the era, like Chris Miller or Wade Wilson or Chris Chandler.
The lack of emphasis on the O-Line  
chrispisano66 : 9/24/2013 11:34 am : link
has been confusing, but so has TC's use of the personnel he's been given.

The re-insertions into the lineup of O'Hara in 2010 and Diehl in 2012 were moves that the vast majority of people following the team knew were questionable at best. Both had direct negative results in each season where the team folded in the end.

The starting O-Line out on that field tomorrow for practice should be Beatty-Brewer-Boothe-Mosely-Pugh.

stretch234 : 9/24/2013 11:38 am : link
The middle rounds are not where your team is built. There is a 50-50 chance of finding a starter in the 3rd round. Once you get to round 4, two thirds of players don't make the team let alone start.

You can add depth in later rounds but you are not building. The best players are high draft picks. Sure there are exceptions, but if you miss on the 1st 2 rounds you are done
No one has mentioned all the WR picks  
oldutican : 9/24/2013 11:41 am : link
2006: 2nd& 3rd for Moss
2007: 2nd Smith
2008:3rd Manningham
2009: 1st Nicks, 3rd & 5th Barden (also 3rd on Beckum)
2010: None
2011: 3rd Jernigan
2012: 2nd Randle
2013: None
So over an 8-year period, Giants spent 8 picks in top 3 rounds on WRs (9 if you include Beckum.)
By contrast, over same period, only 2 picks in top 3 rounds have been spent on O-linemen- Beatty 2nd in 09 and Pugh 1st in 2013.
Bernie : 9/24/2013 11:50 am : link
take your analysis and compare it to the potential offensive linemen the Giants could have drafted in those same spots. Not being critical, but just curious who they passed over and I do not have the time to do it myself.
EXCELLENT original post.  
Red Dog : 9/24/2013 12:00 pm : link
It is just absolutely insane how the front office has allowed the OL that protects their franchise QB to atrophy to a point that Eli is really in danger of getting hurt this season.

Of course, that would allow them to play the rookie QB that they blew two more draft picks on this spring.

It's time for major changes in the front office and coaching staff as well as in player personnel.

If I had the chance to do it again  
Ten Ton Hammer : 9/24/2013 12:00 pm : link
I'd still take Smith and Manningham where they were taken.

Each guy made plays that resulted in a super bowl win.
The Jerry Reese alibi club is consistent.  
LauderdaleMatty : 9/24/2013 12:01 pm : link
He fucked up. He inherited a pretty solid line with two above average guys. Snee an Ohara. Ohara was a great FA pick up. DD was a solid to above average lineman most so his career until age caught up with him.

People can pump Beatty all they want but he isn't a top tier LT. Is he as bad as he looked Sunday? Not even I who things he's average spent think that was the norm but holding Beatty up as a great pick up is a major stretch. Nobody really knows what we have in Pugh. Meanwhile all of his other picks have been failures. Boothe and Locklear were ok pickups. Locklear's injury was unfortunate but TC wanted a done DD more anyway.

Unless this line's performance changes dramatically Reese has totally failed keeping even a average line on this team. It is what it is.
I think we can make an assessment on Pugh.  
Ten Ton Hammer : 9/24/2013 12:03 pm : link
It's not like he looks bad out there. He's going to be at worst a solid player, whether at T or G.
expect reese to draft OL high next year  
xtian : 9/24/2013 12:19 pm : link
previously, there was no need for big OL help because when seubert and o'hara were let go in 2011 reese signed fa baas and had beatty in the wings. no problem, the giants won the superbowl. but now, age and injury hit again only 2 years later with diehl, baas, and snee. obviously, reese didn't think it was probable that it would hit all three, and who knows maybe in several weeks they will heal enough to be adequate. for now, none of the projects have stepped up which we know that most don't, but usually you get one of those like a diehl or reisenberg to come through. so we have the perfect storm. but remember reese did pick pugh who thought to be a bit of a reach this year for the giants 2013 #1. i do expect reese to follow in young's footsteps and use 2 of his first 3 picks on the OL in the 2014 draft.
With All Due Respect Guys  
Bernie : 9/24/2013 12:33 pm : link
how can anyone make an assessment of Pugh after 3 games? Further, how anyone can say DD was an average O-lineman after he was a fixture on the line since 2003 and was the left tackle on two Super Bowl Champion teams is beyond me. Same goes for Snee. Fixture since 2004, 2 Super Bowl Champion teams, and 3 pro bowls. What do you guys expect?
I'm not trying to play hindsight  
oldutican : 9/24/2013 12:42 pm : link
with any particular pick. But the overall picture is very clear. Reese has prioritized WRs for Eli to throw to, but not so much O-linemen to protect him and rush the ball. I don't see how anyone can argue with that.
I think Pugh will be a good player  
Steve in South Jersey : 9/24/2013 1:42 pm : link
but he was over drafted.
Great thread  
Optimus-NY : 9/24/2013 2:08 pm : link
This is a conversation we need to be having now. Matt in SGS is spot on as always as well.
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