Diehl has been an integral part of the Giants offensive line since starting all 16 games as a rookie in 2003. However, in the last couple of years it is clear that Diehl has taken a step back since reaching the Pro Bowl as a replacement in 2009.
Working against Diehl is the fact that the offensive line of the Giants has gelled since Diehl went down with a knee injury in the second quarter of the Week 2 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sean Locklear has slid over from left tackle to right tackle, where he is more comfortable, while Will Beatty has taken over the left tackle job.
In the Week 1 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants allowed three of the five sacks allowed all season. The running game was terrible and didn’t start getting going until it was too late and that was due to the fact the Cowboys were playing the pass rather than the run. However, once Diehl left the rotation, the running game suddenly picked up and Andre Brown was able to show Giants fans that a running game still exists in the Meadowlands.
It would be unfair to place all of the blame on Diehl. Having Locklear at left tackle was not ideal as the Giants waited for Beatty’s back to heal. However, with Locklear at right tackle and Beatty at left, Eli Manning has been sacked two times, both in the game against the Carolina Panthers.
The overall performance of the line, though, has kept the pressure off Manning and allowed him to have a record setting day in Week 2 and allowed him to pick apart the Panthers defense, even without number one receiver Hakeem Nicks.
Diehl’s best days might be behind him. He was an absolute warrior for the Giants, playing wherever he was asked and getting the job done. It is clear Tom Coughlin loves Diehl and I can’t blame him. However, given Diehl’s recent injury and the fact that the offensive line seems to be getting the job done right now I would not disrupt the apple cart if I were Coughlin.
Diehl can be a real value being the super utility guy on the line like he used to be. He can stay fresher while providing Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride with a plethora of options. Diehl can still be a valuable member of the team. However, he might not be the best option to start right now, especially at right tackle.
Allowing Diehl to move inside on certain plays might be the best thing. Diehl seems to have lost a little quickness and he has had trouble with speed edge rushers since last season. A move inside might be best so he can use his strength to help clear paths for the running game while Kevin Boothe and Chris Snee take a breather.
It will be interesting to see how Coughlin uses Diehl once his knee is ready for action. Will he upset what seems to be working or will he put loyalty aside for the greater good of the team?