As we await the coaches’ film to assess the Giants’ o-line in week five we still also are unsure where the unit stands. We’ve seen great performances against Carolina, Tampa Bay (for three quarters) and Cleveland (or so we assume before breaking down the All-22) and two disappointing performances against Dallas and Philly.
It should come as no surprise that the Giants offense averaged just over 39 points in the first three mentioned games while putting up just 17 against the Cowboys and Eagles. We felt that the unit would serve as the pulse of the Giants’ offense and through five weeks it has been just that. When the group is rolling, the offense has the ability to do things that few in the league can. It's just that after week 5, we still aren't sure what to make of the frustrating group. The up and down nature of the offensive line isn’t something that is lost upon its members either as David Baas explained to nj.com-
“One week, it may be a bigger challenge, but you want to have that same goal in mind to keep him clean, to be able to provide holes for Ahmad,” Baas said. “It can’t be up and down all the time. We need to consistently build on good things like last game. So, like I said, it’s going to be a challenge, but I don’t think anybody here is going to back away from it.”
It’s fair to wonder if the group’s results so far this season are a product of their competition. When faced with the quick and aggressive front-sevens of the Cowboys and Eagles the group seemed overmatched, playing on their heels and not delivering the blow. When the Giants have been successful this season, particuarly in the run game, it came against the more traditional "hand in the ground" fronts of Tampa, Carolina and Cleveland.
Make no mistake about it, Sunday will provide the unit their toughest test of the season. They will be challenged in run blocking and pass pro in ways that any of their other 15 opponents have or will not. This is a group that will bring their best against a last place team let alone a team who beat them at home in the NFC championship just eight months ago. They will be ready to go and then some make no mistake about it.
Later in the week we will take a look back at some key plays and trends from the two matchups between the teams last season.
The expected return of Dave Diehl means we get our first look at what was projected to be the Giants’ starting group going into the year. Locklear has done an admirable job filling in at both LT and RT but is not the player Diehl has been and can be. I look forward to seeing the group at full strength just in time for the trip to Candlestick. Not only is he an improvement over Locklear but he also brings a mean streak to the group as they get ready to stare down a group with plenty of it.
If the line can hold their own against the league’s best group (and maybe the best of the last 10 years) then we will know that it can serve as a strength for this team. Sunday is a great opportunity to challenge themselves against the league's best. While a poor peformance will not mean that this is ultimately a bad unit, it will certainly be discourgaing to see against their biggest competitor in the NFC.
For now, let’s say the book is still out.