Everyone—except for general manager Jerry Reese—knew that the New York Giants needed to fix the offensive line in the offseason.
Jerry Reese had a chance to address the Giants’ offensive line in free agency and in the draft and in both cases, he neglected to do so. Instead, he believed that Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart would improve since they spent a majority of the offseason working out in close proximity to the team.
Reese’s gamble proved to be costly, as both Flowers and Hart have struggled mightily this season. That’s a big part of why the Giants are near the bottom of almost every offensive category this season.
Many felt the Giants were a solid offensive line away from being a Super Bowl team. Instead, they sit at 1-8 and are almost a lock to have a top-three pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
But things didn’t have to be this way. There was offensive line help available, and the Giants missed out on two offensive tackles that have helped turn two franchises around this season.
Free agent tackle Andrew Whitworth who spent his previous 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals signed a three year, $33.75 million contract with the Los Angeles Rams.
The acquisition of Whitworth is one of the reasons the Rams have rebounded from a 4-12 record a season ago to being 7-2 and atop of the NFC West. Without him, the Rams probably don’t go from dead last in total offense to third in total offense this year.
He has not only helped solidify the Rams offensive line but helped the development of quarterback Jared Goff by giving him a clean pocket.
There may have been concerns about giving the 35-year-old Whitworth a three-year contract. But the Giants are a veteran team in win-now mode, especially with Eli Manning in the twilight of his career.
Reese could have taken Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the 23rd pick in the draft. Instead, he took tight end Evan Engram, who is having a spectacular season and should end up in the Pro Bowl. But taking an offensive lineman was a bigger need for the Giants.
The New Orleans Saints would draft Ramczyk nine spots later with the 32nd pick, and he has been a rock at tackle for the Saints. Due to injuries to other linemen, Ramczyk has started—and excelled—at both tackle positions. The fortunes—and the image—of the Saints has changed.
A 7-9 team last season, the Saints are 7-2 at sit atop the NFC North. With Ramczyk anchoring the offensive line the Saints have the third-ranked rushing attack in the NFL and are one of the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LII.
Both the Rams and Saints have shown this year that when you put an emphasis on improving your offensive line, your fortunes can change. After all, having a solid line makes playcalling and life for an NFL quarterback easier.
Whoever is the Giants’ general manager in 2018 needs to make a note of this.