[Note by Ed Valentine, 10/11/11 10:43 AM EDT: This is excellent work. Well thought out, well written, well worthy of being highlighted. ]
This was originally a comment, but it was waaaay too long. And someone asked me to turn it into a post, which I don't do very much. So here goes, with some minor edits:
For a team whose philosophy is built around controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, with offense built off the run first, and defense on stopping the run and penetration for the pass rush. . . the OL is a work in progress.
That means half the winning formula is not running on all cylinders.
True, injuries are a factor, but they are a factor in every year, and predictably so. Injuries don’t come out even across the league in a given year, and while the defense has been hindered by them, it hasn’t totally busted, in spite of its problems against the run and yesterday for the first half and the broken second half TD coverage.
The defense is on the field a lot. The Giants have not been able to take control of time of possession, so that exposes the defense more. If the OL can be consistently above average, which it is not right now, then the whole situation changes dramatically.
The plan this year was to move David Diehl to LG where it was expected he could be a net positive, above average, extending his career and making up for a bad last year. But he’s been pretty consistently poor this year.
The plan also relied on Kareem McKenzie to be at least above average this year, after a stellar year last year. But so far, he has been average at best, a bit slow. His skills are degrading faster than expected or maybe he’s a bit injured, who knows. Whatever, he has not lived up to plan.
Chris Snee also is less consistent and is not getting the reliable push we have come to expect from him.
David Baas has been good overall, an upgrade over last year, but still is learning the system and how to make calls that work with the defensive schemes he sees and the talent around him. And now he’s been hurt.
William Beatty has been good for a first time starter overall, but had a bad game yesterday. Got to expect some inconsistency from a first year starter, even if he is a third year player.
Jake Ballard has been hit and miss with his blocks and better than expected running routes. Bear Pascoe is kinda slow, competent generally but inconsistent. His primary value at this point is he knows the system and is better than any obvious immediate replacement.
Travis Beckum has seen limited action due to injury and has actually done better in blocking than his reputation would lead anyone to expect. It’s been at his expected area of strength, route running and pass catching, where he has been of no impact whatsoever.
Blocking from the backfield Henry Hynoski has done well for a rookie and shows steady improvement.
The RB’s in the blocking game are okay, though they miss things from time to time.
Bottom Line: What all of that equals is an underwhelming level of control of the offensive line of scrimmage, and while I think the plan to start the season was not unreasonable in its expectations, it has not lived up to its expectations on the field. I know a lot of people felt strongly the front office did not pay enough attention to these risks going in to the season, and although I was not as concerned, five weeks into the season they have a decent case to make.
So, from what I can see, the biggest problems with this team come from the OL collectively being at best average and inconsistent, from the defense seeing too much time on the field to be exploited to bad 3rd down conversion rates to an inability to run the ball and deploy good play action, where Eli typically shines (though I agree with some BBV commenters that his PA fakes were really lame yesterday).
Update: Thanks, Ed! Didn't expect to be promoted.