The Offensive Line

Who is the best OL coach in the league? You’re about to find out.

The conversation these past 2 days after the Packers playoff loss has centered around some of the player personnel moves required to upgrade the team for 2017. One player who everyone wants to move to RT or demote is Ereck Flowers. Our analyst, Wonder, has a different but compelling viewpoint on Flowers and the entire Offensive Line of the Giants. He believes there is a tremendous amount of systemic failure in coaching.

“I think Flowers is overwhelmed and confused to such a degree that he is floundering when the ball is snapped,” said Wonder. “There does not seem to be any core or consistent training values. Pugh and Richburg are underachieving. How can it be possible that EVERY single OLman that has been drafted is THIS bad? When was the last time the Giants were able to effectively run the ball? How many years do we have to go back? They can’t run block. They can’t pass block. The sum of the parts clearly indicates that the OL coaching is failing the players and the team.”

Wonder continues. “If you put Paul Perkins behind the Dallas freaking OL, he’d gain 1200 yards.

“The Patriots lose Offensive linemen over and over. They plug in dogsh*t and they get the dogsh*t to play. They coach them up and make them serviceable. Pass blocking is easier than run blocking. You create a shell.”

Cameron Fleming. He is just a guy. He gets the job done for the Patriots. If you moved him to the Giants, he’d be dog meat.

Nate Solder was a first round pick. He made All-Pro. They got out of him the upside potential he had in the draft.

Joe Thuney. He was a 3rd rounder this year, but he was developed into a serviceable Guard and STARTED all 16 games as a rookie.

David Andrews. Undrafted 2nd year player. Center!

Shaq Mason. 4th Rounder out of Georgia Tech in his second year. Another nobody. Just a guy. Yet when he gets to NE, he is taught a system and coached up.

The Patriots have a simple philosophy- they do not pay their OL because there is not a great deal of skill required. You have to not lose. A moderate amount of talent can be coached up in a unit.

When Von Miller killed the Patriots last year in the playoffs, Belichick (begged and) brought back his old OL coach Dante Scarnecchia. So all of a sudden in 2016 the OLmen magically became better? Coaching. After writing this, we dug out the following link, which completely supports our thesis. From 2015 to 2016, the Patriots went from 39 OL combinations to 9 combinations.

Tom Brady: “The (Offensive Line has) done an incredible job. I can’t say enough good things about what they have accomplished as individuals, as players, and collectively as a unit.”

Damien Woody says (via Belichick’s philosophy as a student with the Patriots) that Defensive pass rushers are born, they are not made. Offensive Linemen are made.

There are two positions in the NFL who can be made. Offensive line and Defensive back. As long as DB’s have good hips, they can be coached up.

Why would Belichick beg an OL coach to come out of retirement? Because he is tired of seeing Brady get hit and knows who will fix the problem. A good solid OL coach named Dante Scarnecchia.

Tom Brady: “Dante [Scarnecchia] is just the best coach, the best offensive line coach in the NFL. He does a great job with all of them. Ted [Karras] got some action. Flems [Cameron Fleming] did a good job when he got in there. ‘L.A.’ [LaAdrian Waddle], he’s been ready to go, just hadn’t gotten the opportunity.”

Your offensive line needs to work as a unit.

Let’s look at Giants OL Coach Solari’s recent career:

  • Kansas City Chiefs (1997–2005)
    Offensive line coach
  • Kansas City Chiefs (2006–2007)
    Offensive coordinator
  • Seattle Seahawks (2008–2009)
    Offensive line coach
  • San Francisco 49ers (2010–2014)
    Offensive line coach
  • Green Bay Packers (2015)
    Assistant offensive line coach
  • New York Giants (2016–present)
    Offensive line coach

This guy is a retread and hasn’t been able to hold a job. His predecessor, Pat Flaherty, was OL coach from 2004 to 2015. I thought that Flaherty did a good job of coaching, but given how few OLmen have been developed well by Flaherty, this argument by Wonder seems to make more sense. Of the 5 linemen who made up the great 2008 line, only 1 was originally “developed” — Chris Snee, who was picked at the beginning of Round 2. Diehl was a 16 game starter the previous season. O’Hara was a FA from the Browns. Seubert was pre-dated on the Giants before Flaherty’s arrival. McKenzie was a FA from the Jets. So the only player that Flaherty developed was Beatty, who was also a Round 2 draft pick. “Beatty had talent out of the draft and we liked him, but he certainly did not tap all his potential,” said Wonder. The interesting conclusion that we are making is that the OL coaching is not delivering any kind of consistent and meaningful assistance to these players.

We have been very critical of Jerry Reese here on this blog for his failures at drafting OL. My eyes are open to seeing that it is a combination of factors. While we are certain that Reese failed in not drafting with urgency from 2010-2012 when the OL aged, we do see the lack of development of OLmen on the part of the coaching staff. Here is the list of all of the OL draft picks that have been taken since 2004 when Flaherty came in:

2004 Snee R1
2004 Stojny R7
2007 Koets R6
2009 Beatty R2
2010 Petrus R5
2011 Brewer R4
2012 Mosley R4
2012 McCants R6
2013 Pugh R1
2013 Herman R7
2014 Richburg R2
2015 Flowers R1
2015 Hart R7

There are plenty of conclusions to be drawn from this list, and we highlighted in previous posts how awful Reese was in not allocating effective resources to nearly 1/4th of your team from 2007 to 2012. The question that jumps out is how, with the exception of Chris Snee, every player on this list has underachieved in some capacity. Even Beatty, Pugh and Richburg, who are/have been starters, are underwhelming. We liked Mitch Petrus out of the draft and he was “farm strong.” Yet what happened to his development? It seemingly vaporized. This “guy” is the poster child for the failures at OL- the prototypical player whom the Patriots turn into a serviceable starter. For the Giants? Nothing.

This viewpoint of poor coaching will not necessarily be the thing that most Giants fans will want to hear.  Everyone wants Flowers to lose his job or move to RT. But maybe Flowers’ play and the play of the entire OL, which admittedly has been miserable, is not all on Reese. The sum of the parts has to rule out Reese, that every guy he is drafting is not getting it done.  For sure, there are more than a few players that would not have made it. But right now, from this list, there have been ZERO players who were developed past Round 2. ZERO. Pugh was drafted as a Tackle and he had to be moved to Guard, so that is another developmental miss. Wonder stands by his eval of Flowers out of Miami and sees talent in a player that is lost. Richburg has been serviceable, but everyone wants more. This is why the conclusion is that there is systemic underachievement in the Offensive Line coaching. We see what good OL coaching does to no-names in New England. We see what poor OL coaching does to names and no-names in New York.



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