With a potential contract extension looming, former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was on NFL Total Access Tuesday morning to discuss Eli Manning's prospects in the second year of Ben McAdoo's offense.
Overall, Gilbride was complimentary of the Giants' offense:
"I think they're in a good place offensively, I think they've got all the bugs worked out. You know, they've assimilated some of the things that Eli liked from the year before, they are all familiar now with the verbiage, the underlying concepts, they're all confident in what they were doing at the end of the year."
Gilbride also likes the talent the Giants have assembled around Eli Manning:
"The fact that they've got Victor Cruz coming back is a great thing. The addition of Shane Vereen, I think, is a tremendous addition. They haven't had a running back they can throw the ball to with confidence since Tiki Barber left. So there are a lot of things to be very optimistic about."
Of course, its the offseason, and this is the Giants we are talking about, so they had to temper that optimism. And since they are talking about the offense, questions about the offensive line abounded.
"I think that if there's one area that would cause some concern, it's the offensive line. And the tragedy in that is that they have made some strides in that in the last couple years. They brought in Justin Pugh, they brought in Erik Flowers, they brought in Weston Richburg. They made some adjustments that, I thought, they had to make, which was moving Pugh to the inside. But the problem is, it all went astray when Will Beatty got injured in the offseason."
Will Beatty's torn pectoral muscle is, of course, the elephant in the offensive line room. Gilbride expressed concerns as to whether or not Erik Flowers would be ready, from a technique perspective, to protect Eli's blindside and face premier pass rushers. And that concern is valid. Even polished pass protectors like Jake Matthews and Luke Joeckle struggled mightily coming out of college.
It's interesting to note that while Gilbride expressed concern over Flowers' ability to handle premier edge rushers at the left tackle position, in 2014 eight of the top 11 sack producing edge rushers in the NFL -- Justin Houston (22), J.J. Watt (20.5), Elvis Dumervil (17), Mario Williams (14.5), Connor Barwin (14.5), Von Miller (14), Ryan Kerrigan (13.5), and Cameron Wake (11.5) -- primarily faced right tackles. So it seems Flowers would have been facing more premier edge rushers at their natural positions at right tackle.
Which leads into Gilbride's next concern -- who will play the right tackle position -- and that too is a legitimate concern. As of now, the battle for the starting right tackle job seems to be between Marshall Newhouse and Brandon Mosley. Newhouse was brought in to be veteran depth and a potential spot starter, but has performed poorly as an every-day starter throughout his career. Mosley was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, though he has consistently been hampered by nagging injuries.He has performed well when he has been able to get on the field, and has a real shot at winning the starting right tackle job.
Finally, Gilbride did mention how his replacement, Ben McAdoo, can help the offensive line until Beatty's return:
"I think the good thing is that they throw a high percentage, a high volume, of short, three-step passes, quick passes. The fact that they've got guys like Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz who can run very well. So they can get the ball out of his [Eli Manning] hand and still have some big-time productive plays. But I do think, in the end, it's going to come down to how well the offensive line plays."