David Diehl is a consummate pro and a guy that every team should want on their roster from a leadership stand point. In his prime, Diehl was one of the most underrated and under-appreciated offensive lineman in the league. However, he has hit that point in every player’s career where it can no longer be justified to keep him in the starting lineup.
I’ve been singing this tune all off-season long. The New York Giants should have replaced Diehl in the starting lineup with either a proven veteran or a young player eager to prove himself. They chose to keep Diehl around, moving him from the left side to the right tackle spot in the hopes that he could turn back the clock.
The first two games of the season have been more of the same from Diehl. In 2011, Diehl was ranked dead last by Pro Football Focus in terms of pass blocking efficiency. The move to the right side was supposed to fix that, but it hasn’t and Eli Manning faced some major pressure problems against the Dallas Cowboys and early in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game Sunday.
The Giants may have gotten a blessing in disguise today when Diehl went out with a knee injury in the first half. Sean Locklear, who had been starting at left tackle in place of Will Beatty, moved over to right tackle and Beatty came in at left tackle.
Despite the Giants losing Ahmad Bradshaw in the first half to injury as well, they ran the ball much more effectively in the second half with this combination along the offensive line. Andre Brown had a breakout game behind this line, and the difference in the two lineups was night and day, at least from a run blocking stand point.
The group before was getting by protecting Manning, but the second half was a much better effort in that regard. Manning was given all day to pick apart the Bucs defense, and did so to the tune of 510 yards.
The Giants fear it could be an MCL tear for Diehl, which could give them enough reason to just move Diehl to the bench for the rest of the season. I hope they realize what they have in Locklear and make that move permanently.