There really is no offseason in the modern NFL, and among other things that means that there really is no respite from Power Rankings.
That's right, those abominable lists we love to hate, but can never seem to get enough of, never seem to go away. This time we get to look at Peter King's Off Season Power Rankings for his Monday Morning Quarterback column. If you read the title -- and why wouldn't you? It's kinda hard to miss what with the big letters and being at the top of the page -- you know he ranked the New York Giants 22nd in the league.
Tell me Eli Manning stays protected, and tell me the second act of Steve Spagnuolo can come close to matching the first, and I’ll have more faith in the Giants to be a playoff team.
Well, okay Pete: It's fair to assume that Eli Manning will stay protected.
Earlier, Ed offered his thoughts on a comparison of the Giants' position charts to the rest of the NFC East. That comparison wasn't kind to the Giants' offensive line, rating it dead last.
I'm not sure I agree with that, but I know the current lineup is a practical improvement over the lineup that finished the 2014 season. The loss of Will Beatty is a big one. Not only have the Giants lost one of the best -- and least appreciated -- left tackles in the NFL, it looks like they are also forced to play Marshall Newhouse at right tackle for the foreseeable future.
However, the interior offensive line is markedly improved, and that's what matters.
I'm going to assume (and my apologies if I'm unfairly putting words in King's mouth) that his assertion about Manning is based on the stat that he was the worst quarterback under pressure in the NFL last year. Well, not all pressure is the same. Eli faced a disproportionate amount of pressure up the middle, leaking through the interior offensive line. That will rattle any quarterback, and denying a pocket passer a pocket to step up into is crippling. That is why players like Suh or Sheldon Richards are so valuable.
In 2011 Eli Manning was the single best quarterback in the NFL under pressure. Why? Because despite having the two worst tackles in the NFL in David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie, the interior offensive line was stout and always gave him a pocket to step into.
Even if Ereck Flowers and Marshall Newhouse -- assuming they are the starting bookends -- play down to the level of Diehl and McKenzie in 2011, is it so unreasonable to assume that Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, and Geoff Schwartz can match the level of play of Kevin Boothe, David Baas, and Chris Snee?
But even with the patchwork offensive line of 2014, Eli Manning was protected fine. He was sacked 28 times in 601 passing attempts. For reference, Tony Romo, who's offensive line is approaching the status of "Folk Heroes" among the media outlets, was sacked 29 times on 435 passing attempts. Considering Romo only attempted 29 passes a game, he was sacked more on five fewer games worth of passing attempts. Had he dropped back as many times as Eli, Romo would have been on the receiving end of an even 40 sacks.
So yeah, with an upgraded interior offensive line, I think it's fair to assume that Eli will stay protected at least as well as 2014.
Now, as for King's other question, whether Spagnuolo will have similar success to his first stint as the Giants' defensive coordinator... We're just going to have to wait a while longer for the answer to that one.
If we take draft order as a kind of power ranking (and in essence it is the NFL's official power ranking), King is effectively saying that he doesn't believe the Giants have done anything to improve their team relative to the rest of the NFL. This is all barely even academic at this point, but what do you think? Are the Giants still the ninth or 10th worst team in the NFL?