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Valentine’s Views: Right tackle situation, winning blueprint, more

Here are this week’s things I think about the Giants

NFL: New York Giants at Houston Texans
Chad Wheeler working against J.J. Watt.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Tuesday, and that means time for the look inside my brain for New York Giants-related thoughts that I always call “Valentine’s Views.” In case you care, and you probably don’t, I’ve been using that title since I was sports editor of my college newspaper, the Morrisville Chimes, almost 40 years ago. It just sorta stuck.

Anyway, let’s get to the things I think about the Giants this week.

The right tackle problem isn’t solved

As I knew there would be, there was much arguing over my choice Monday to give J.J. Watt “Kudos” rather than give Chad Wheeler a “Wet Willie” after Sunday’s game.

Wheeler gave up three of the four sacks taken by Eli Manning on Sunday. He was also responsible for five of the eight pressures on Manning, per Pro Football Focus. Those are the raw numbers.

“He battled and in my opinion, even though he got beat on a couple of snaps, I thought he had a winning performance,” was coach Pat Shurmur’s assessment.

Here is how I view Wheeler’s performance. I would agree with Shurmur. For Sunday’s game. The line as a whole was better. Wheeler didn’t commit any penalties or have any egregious assignment errors, which by itself made his work better than that of Ereck Flowers the first two weeks.

Now for the “but.” The “but” is that the way Wheeler played Sunday won’t be good enough over the next 13 games. He won’t be facing a future Hall of Famer every week, but he will be facing some really good players. One of those will be this week when he lines up against Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints. He had 13 sacks in in All-Pro 2017 season, and already has four this year.

Winning performance or not vs. Houston, Wheeler is going to have to play better. The Giants’ right tackle problem has not, by any stretch of the imagination, been solved.

Better work from Patrick Omameh

I mentioned on Sunday that after the news broke regarding the benching of Ereck Flowers (sorry, Coach Shurmur you can say it was about Wheeler but we know it was about Flowers) that the calls for Omameh to join Flowers began.

In discussing Omameh’s play in the first two games, I wrote “sometimes an offensive lineman’s play can be impacted by the struggles or mistakes of the guy next to him.”

Well, with two new lineman next to him — center John Greco to his left and Wheeler to his right — Omameh played well against the Texans. Omameh allowed one pressure in 35 pass-blocking snaps and, for whatever you think Pro Football Focus grades are worth, had the highest grade of any Giants’ offensive lineman at 77.6.

When I think about Omameh, my mind keeps going back to Will Beatty, James Brewer and the 2013 season that saw Eli Manning sacked a career-worst 39 times. Beatty, with a freshly minted mega contract, surrendered 11 of those sacks. In no other season of his career did Beatty give up more than four sacks. Starting next to Beatty in eight of those 2013 games was Brewer, who played only two more NFL games after that and was then out of the league.

When it comes to offensive line play, you have to trust that the guy next to you not only can do his job, but that he knows what that job is. I’m not saying that Flowers is to blame for Omameh’s early struggles. I don’t know that. I’m just saying that going forward it will be interesting to watch how Omameh plays without Flowers next to him.

Drew Brees looms ... and that’s worrisome

The weakest part of the Giants game on Sunday was probably their secondary. The Giants gave up 385 yards passing to Deshaun Watson and let’s be truthful here. Watson has a great arm and he’s a tremendous athlete, but he isn’t the world’s most accurate passer. He made some plays on the run, but standing in the pocket Sunday vs. the Giants Watson missed a number of throws that should have been completions.

The guy the Giants face this Sunday won’t miss those throws.

That guy would be Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. At 67.1 percent completions, he is the most accurate passer in NFL history. Brees has completed an absurd 80.6 percent of his throws this season. While carving up the Atlanta Falcons last week for 396 passing yards, three touchdowns and 43 points, Brees passed some guy named Brett Favre for most pass completions all-time.

The play of free safety Curtis Riley has thus far been a concern. The absence of Eli Apple (groin) was felt last week. The Giants need to be better — much better — in coverage against the Saints or Brees will light the Giants up.

The blueprint has been established

I mentioned this on Sunday after the game against the Texans, but it bears repeating. Sunday’s victory established the blueprint, the way that Giants want to play football. That means efficient, explosive offense that takes advantage of the mismatches they can create. Opportunistic defense that creates turnovers and forces field goals. Special teams that don’t a) leave points off the board and b) help put the opposition in position to score more often.

Can the Giants consistently follow that blueprint? No one knows for sure, but Sunday showed that there is a path for the Giants to become a good football team.

Podcast stuff

In case you missed this week’s announcement, Big Blue View has launched a podcast of its own as part of the SB Nation Podcast Network. Currently, the show is hosted by two of our excellent staff members, Dan Pizzuta and Chris Pflum. Please give the show a try.

If you’re looking for the show being hosted by Patricia Traina and yours truly, we are still at Locked On Giants.

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