Diehl has become a nuisance for a high-powered offense desperate to become a more balanced attack. His inability in run blocking over the past two seasons is widely responsible for the Giants’ struggles rushing the football. That could not have become more obvious than it did when he went down with an MCL injury in the Giants’ Week 2 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, opening up the doors for Andre Brown—in for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw—to rush for 71 yards on 13 carries with the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
His struggles have not only been documented in the run game, though. Last season, easily Diehl’s worst campaign to date, he was rated as the least efficient pass-blocking offensive tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
Diehl’s absence, which will be his first missed game since the 2010 season, is unfortunate for a longtime Giant that has contributed so much to the Giants up front. He has been a pivotal piece in their success for 10 seasons, but the wear and tear of life as an NFL lineman has begun to take its toll and Diehl’s play has seen a dramatic decline as a result.
The game of football is a business, however, and Diehl’s injury—no matter how long it may sideline him—could be the necessary evil needed to remove the Giants veteran from the starting rotation for the first time in his career. The injury allows the Giants to field their best possible offensive line unit, with Will Beatty at left tackle and Sean Locklear back in his natural right tackle spot. That offensive line unit performed spectacularly in the Giants’ 41-34 win against the Bucs, picking up every blitz brought forth by Tampa and keeping Eli Manning off his back.
Good protection usually gives Manning and his lethal duo of receivers by the name of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz plenty of time to expose their opponent’s secondary and devour it for big plays in the passing game. The Giants will be without Nicks against the Panthers, but the game will be a chance for Beatty and Locklear to prove they can anchor the Giants offensive line and finally open up some of those big play opportunities without the worry of inept blocking up front.
Diehl has led a great career in New York that is certainly much appreciated by Giants fans everywhere. He helped to bring two Lombardi Trophies to the franchise and was a part of one of the NFL’s most consistent offensive lines for some time. Unfortunately, every player has their time to call it quits and it would appear that Diehl’s time may very well be upon us.