Ereck Flowers played an awful football game Sunday for the New York Giants.
There was a tripping penalty on the first play of the season. A holding penalty on the third. He allowed a sack and a team-worst 7 of the 18 pressures the Jacksonville Jaguars got in Eli Manning’s 39 drop backs on Sunday. Only two tackles allowed more pressures. Only one who played more than 50 snaps had a lower pass-blocking grade.
Flowers’ overall Pro Football Focus grade was just 49.6, only 38.4 as a pass blocker.
His play was bad. Anyone who watched saw that. And before you get all crazy about Giants coach Pat Shurmur defending Flowers on Monday by saying, among other things, “He had a lot of really good plays and he had a couple that he’d like to have back,” what is Shurmur supposed to do?
The coach can see the film. He knows what he should, and should not, have seen better then you. Or me. Or any Twitter film critic out there. The Giants are stuck with Flowers for this season, though. He’s a Jerry Reese gift that keeps on giving. Or taking, whichever you prefer. He is in the final year of his rookie contract. He wasn’t ever going anywhere. He isn’t going anywhere now. Except back out to right tackle to try again.
GM Dave Gettleman did a lot of things in the offseason. He couldn’t work a miracle and either a) find a taker for Flowers or b) make him a better player.
Thing is, we know all that already. We know he wasn’t good on Sunday. Shurmur knows it. Flowers knows it. His teammates know it. The question is now whether Flowers can rebound from it, or if this was a sign of things to come.
After not speaking to reporters on Sunday, Flowers did so Monday. I’m glad he did. Sunday, he left teammates to speak for, and about, him. Monday, he took responsibility.
Flowers said he “did some good things, but I think there’s some things I need to work on.” He also said he is “trying to get better.”
He called the pick 6 where he appeared to get beaten badly around the edge a “hard play.”
“The linebacker came, I was supposed to pick him up. He came and then he left, so I stepped to get him and then I had to pop back out last minute. See what I’m saying? I had two people inside first,” Flowers said.
He said he is well aware of the criticism heaped upon him from outside the building, but that “it doesn’t matter, I don’t lose sleep over it.”
“I lose sleep over what these guys in my room and on this team think about me, that’s it,” he said.
All of that is fine. It’s good. It’s what you would expect him to say. No one wants to be bad their job. No one wants to embarrass themselves on national TV. No one wants to hear constant criticism from the media or the Twitter bench jockeys. That isn’t fun.
One thing, though, about Flowers’ remarks befuddled — and concerned — me.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, the man he was going to be assigned to block most of the day, is in his 12th season. He is a three-time Pro Bowler and was an All-Pro last season.
There are voluminous scouting reports on the opposition provided by teams. Access to all the film you could possibly want to study. Yet, Flowers didn’t appear to know what to expect from Campbell on Sunday.
In talking about the game-opening tripping penalty, with Campbell lined up against him, he said:
“It was a quick pass so I jumped out there too fast on it. Next time I know what type of player I’m against, he’s not really a speed guy, so next time I’m won’t jump out so fast.”
Umm ... what?
With all of the information at your disposal how can you line up against an All-Pro in the season-opening game and not know what type of player you were going up against?
GM Dave Gettleman talks about watching film until his eyes bleed. NFL players are known for studying hours and hours of tape each week — grinding away to find the slightest tendencies, the slightest tells, the tiniest bits of information they can gather to give them an advantage on game days.
Some, though, really never master the art of studying the game. And it is an art. You have to know what you’re looking for, and how to use that information when you find it. Those who master it have a better chance of mastering their craft and succeeding on Sunday. Those who don’t will forever be at a disadvantage.
Maybe that answer in itself reveals at least part of the reason why Flowers has continued to struggle during his four seasons with the Giants.
I have no idea what Flowers’ study habits are. Or whether Flowers, noticeably reticent in speaking to the media, simply didn’t frame his statement well. That remark about Campbell, though, raises more questions than it answers.
Quick thoughts on the offensive line in general
Yes, the Giants have to be concerned about the offensive line. Still, let’s remember that the Jaguars possess a dominant defense. The Giants were never going to dominate the line of scrimmage in that game.
If you think the cavalry is coming to upgrade the offensive line, guess again. Look at this list of available free agent tackles and tell me who you have confidence in. The Giants may add someone, but there’s no guarantee any of them will be better than what the Giants have.
Eli Manning wasn’t the problem on Sunday
In the press room on Sunday evening and on Twitter or in the BBV comments ever since Sunday’s game ended, there are those who want to blame the loss on quarterback Eli Manning. To put it succinctly, that’s a bunch of nonsense.
If you’ve been reading Big Blue View for a while you know where I stand on Manning. I’m in the pro-Manning camp. That doesn’t make me blind to his weaknesses. It doesn’t make me incapable of seeing when he messes up, or admitting he’s done so.
In no way, though, can you blame Sunday’s loss on Manning. Unless you are so far into the “I hate Eli, love Davis Webb and can’t believe the Giants didn’t draft Sam Darnold” camp that you can’t see clearly.
In my view, Manning missed one throw — ONE!! — that he clearly should have completed on Sunday, the post to Odell Beckham Jr. that could have been a touchdown.
The pick 6? Watch the play.
I haven’t a clue how you can watch that play and objectively blame the outcome on Manning. Flowers is beaten badly to the outside, forcing Manning to step up. Patrick Omameh is tossed away like a dishrag by Abry Jones, who ends up right in the path of Manning’s throw and swats it into the air. What is Manning supposed to do about any of that?
Manning’s not perfect. He didn’t play a perfect game. He took a pounding, pressured 18 times in 39 drop backs per Pro Football Focus, as the offensive line struggled. Let’s not forget the Jaguars have one of the NFL’s best defenses.
The Giants showed some warts on Sunday. You can’t convince me that Manning was one of them.
Here’s BBV quarterback guru Mark Schofield’s take on Manning’s Sunday:
“They call it Overreaction Monday for a reason. This time last year the Ravens were back, the Chiefs were the best team in football and the Patriots had a host of problems. But it’s a long season and the results on a rainy afternoon at MetLife Stadium should be evaluated in context and used as a baseline. Did Eli Manning miss on a throw that might have changed the course of that game? Sure. New York caught Jacksonville in a Cover 4 look and got Odell Beckham isolated on a safety, but Manning’s throw was a step too far. Certainly a throw you’d like to see Manning make, but remember that this was a historically good pass defense a season ago, so making throws against Jacksonville is often a tough ask. The Pick Six was a disaster, and it started with Ereck Flowers up front. He got into his kick slide to try and match the speed of Yannick Ngakoue off the edge, but then stepped inside as he saw Telvin Smith come down to cover Saquon Barkley out of the backfield, assuming the LB was blitzing. He wasn’t, and that gave Ngakoue a free shot at Manning, who tried to climb the pocket and hit Barkley on a Texas route, but the pass was then tipped by Abry Jones and into the waiting arms of Myles Jack. That’s ... bad all around, but Manning did what he could when put in a difficult position. It’s not time to overreact, yet.
“There were other missed opportunities, such as the fourth-and-6 throw to Sterling Shepard that came on a wheel route - a tough route to throw - that Manning underthrew by a step. If he hits either that throw, or the earlier post to Beckham, the conversation Monday morning is a much different one.”
I will side with Mark, a guy who has played the position and understands it as well as anyone I know.