Talking Eli, JPP, O-Line, Prince & More with ESPN Giants Writer Ohm Youngmisuk
The New York Giants are off for just more than a month, resting and relaxing and probably partying a little bit as well. Sure, they're the defending champions, after all.
Soon, though, the focus will shift squarely to 2012. They have their rings, they've met the president. There are issues to be dealt with between now and Sept. 5.
Bleacher Report: I don't understand why David Diehl's even on this roster. I'm not saying this because of the DUI, either. He was just plain terrible last year. I'm really surprised the Giants didn't address the offensive line with more urgency in the offseason. Curious to find out what you think of the line, Diehl's starting spot and what they should have done.
Ohm Youngmisuk: I don't know how much Diehl struggled really. I mean, the fact is they did win a Super Bowl with him at left tackle, and they did make that run where they won their last six straight games, and I believe he was the starter at left tackle for all those games. And he also did all that playing basically with a broken hand. So I think you kinda have to keep that in mind.
And I think by switching him over to right tackle, they really believe that Diehl's versatility will help them out there, and his experience. They want to see what [Will] Beatty can do at left tackle, and Diehl obviously is the leading candidate to replace Kareem McKenzie on the right side.
They do have James Brewer. I don't know how ready he is to start yet—he might be like a year away. And the same can be said for the other guys they drafted. Some people may think that maybe the offensive line may need an improvement here or there, but the bottom line is they got the job done last year.
I know Eli [Manning] got hit a lot in that NFC Championship Game, but for the most part, that offensive line was good enough to win the Super Bowl.
B/R: I took some heat for suggesting that Prince Amukamara could become a bust if he doesn't perform this year. In your mind, what does Prince have to do this year? What are your expectations for him?
OY: Yeah, he held out, and then he broke his foot in the second practice of training camp. He didn't come back until Week 11. At that point he was way behind the eight ball, because remember: He had the lockout. So, it's not like he had all this coaching from the minute he was drafted all the way up until he played. I mean, he wasn't even around the coaches until the first week of training camp after his holdout.
So last year, basically, was a wash in my mind. I know he came back and he showed some flashes, but then really kind of struggled. And this year, he's just really kind of getting back into the groove of things. He wasn't cleared until last week of minicamp, so you really have to kind of be a little patient with Prince. I know there are high expectations for him, but you gotta make sure his foot is healthy.
[Defensive coordinator] Perry Fewell said the guy really needs to come into camp in top shape, and mentally he's on top of it, but I still think there's a little bit of a learning curve with Prince. And that goes for all the rookies from last year. This year is their first entire offseason of coaching and training.
B/R: There's little doubt that Eli Manning is the most important player on this team, but in your mind, who's the best player on the team? I agree with the NFL Network rankings, which determined that Jason Pierre-Paul is a more dominant overall player than Eli is. Your take?
OY: No, I think Eli is the better player, and I think he's gotta be a more dominant player than Jason Pierre-Paul, because he's the guy with the ball at the end of games. I mean, Jason is unbelievable, and JPP's impact on games was incredible, but Eli Manning's impact on a game is a lot more than JPP, simply because Eli's gonna have the ball in his hands and can do more with it. He can dictate more as far as what the outcome's gonna be than JPP.
That JPP was able to win some games, like the one where he blocked the field goal at the end against Dallas, was simply incredible. Don't get me wrong—his ability to impact the game from defensive end has been incredible, but the bottom line is Eli Manning's the quarterback of this team, he's the engine that runs it. He's the guy that's able to bring the Giants back from deficits and win games in the last five minutes of a game. He's a two-time Super Bowl MVP. It's gotta be Eli Manning.
Will the Giants regret letting Jake Ballard get away?
B/R: In the future, do you think they'll regret letting Jake Ballard get away?
OY: It's hard to know because you don't really know how Jake is gonna come back from what is a very serious knee injury. He had microfracture surgery, and that is a tough thing for players to come back from.
We're gonna have to wait and see how that pans out next year, but from a locker-room standpoint, they love the guy, he's a really good guy and he had potential there. Eli obviously trusted Jake, and we won't know how good they could have been unless Jake comes back in some form or fashion later down the road.
So, I think this is something we're gonna have to wait until next season or the season after that to really see how much they'll regret it.
B/R: Today I compared the 2007 Super Bowl team to the 2011 version. It's real tough to determine which was better, but I lean slightly toward the recent champion. Putting you on the spot a bit here, but which do you think was better?
OY: That's a really hard one because Eli Manning's a better quarterback now than he was in '07, but that team had a better running game. I think Eli had better receivers this past year. That team had a better offensive line. I would say that that defense was probably better than this defense.
That's a hard one. Off of the very top of my head, I'm probably leaning a little bit toward that '07 team. You have [Michael] Strahan on that team. I think you have a better running game. Offensive line was better. I think the defense was better. But on this team that just won, you had a better Eli Manning, and that's a big deal to me.
B/R: Yeah, I drew many of the same conclusions. The '07 team clearly had fewer weaknesses, but I'd also argue that they had fewer strengths.
OY: Remember, that team also beat what could have been a historic team in the Patriots, so I think that Patriots team was better than this Patriots team. But like I said, I'm gonna go with the '07 team right now, but the '11 squad had a better Eli Manning, and that also means a lot, too.
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