Giants Made A Good Diehl

Last spring, in a somewhat surprising move, newly-appointed general manager Jerry Reese released Luke Petitgout, who was due to make $5 million this season. In July, Reese, who has adopted a young-&-healthier aphorism, explained the decision and zinged the former left tackle.

“People are so worried about left tackle… I think that’s so overrated,” said the irritated GM about Petitgout, who gave up 4 ½ sacks in nine games last year before his season was ended with a broken leg. “People act like Petitgout was the second coming. He never made the Pro Bowl, and I don’t think he ever was a first alternate. Now all of a sudden he’s the savior? That’s ridiculous. I don’t think we’re that bad off without [him]. He was not a star left tackle. He was a solid left tackle on some occasions and other times he wasn’t. Luke has been a marginal player for a long time.”

Although Reese made a prudent decision especially since Petitgout is lost for the year again he underrated the former first round pick. The penalty-prone Petitgout was never more than a solid pass-blocker (he gave up six sacks in 15 games in 2005), but he was one of the top run blockers at the position. In 2005 and a truncated 2006, he was ranked as the 7th best run blocker at left tackle in the NFL. Think of how many of Tiki Barber’s long scampers went to the left side.

But more surprising that Petitgout’s release was Reese’s negligence to sign or draft a replacement. Instead, he left the roster with question marks in raw second-year tackle Guy Whimper, whom he had campaigned for in the fifth round in 2006, and David Diehl, who was developing into a top right guard.

It was Diehl, the four-year veteran, who got the job and held it with an impressive-enough showing in training camp.

Left tackle would be the fourth offensive line position that Diehl had played, but what worried fans was the fact that he had never protected a quarterback’s blindside before, and he struggled at right tackle in 2004. Diehl, who looked slow out of his stance, gave up nine sacks and committed 10 penalties that season. So, regardless of the confidence he and the coaching staff had in him, it was a risky move, especially for Eli Manning.

But through five games, Diehl has disproved the doubters and proved Reese right. He has given up just one sack and the Giants backs are averaging 4.92 yards per carry running behind him good for eighth in the league. Not bad for a 27-year-old who hasn’t missed a game and is under a 5-year, $14 million contract. Younger, healthier, cheaper and possibly better.

I spoke with Diehl about his switch to left tackle and the progress he has made.

On how the transition to left tackle is going:

The more you practice, the better you feel. I’m definitely feeling much more comfortable out there. You always strive to improve and become a better player, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m taking each week and each game to learn and to improve because all of the guys on the field are depending on me, and I understand that.

The biggest difference between guard and tackle:

Just in pass protection, you’re working in a lot more space. At guard you can be a lot more aggressive because things happen so much quicker, but at tackle you have to be a lot more patient. You’re playing up against a defensive end, you want to be aggressive but you can’t be overaggressive because usually you’re out there by yourself and you have to be patient and put yourself in the right position.

How different is the pass-blocking technique at tackle:

They’re a lot different. You’re kicking vertical and trying to beat the defensive end to a point. It’s a lot different than it is at guard just because you can set flat at guard and get away it, but if you set flat on a defensive end, you’re giving him a short corner.

A review of his performance thus far:

I feel comfortable. The more work I get the better I feel. But I’m never going to be satisfied with the game. I’ll learn from it and I’m definitely going to see if there are things I can do differently to improve myself. It’s great to be in game situations where you’re not thinking, you just go out there and react. That’s the best thing about it.

Going against Osi Umenyiora in practice:

It’s extremely beneficial. To be able to play up against a guy like that day in and day out, it’s extremely helpful to me because if you’re preparing against a Pro Bowl type of player who’s got an extremely fast first step and an extreme burst off the ball, that can only help you. So for the development of me, it’s great to be able to play against a guy like that.


1 comment so far

  1. I am a Giants fan from Argentina. Very nice Giants information.
    I miss the days of Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms.
    I hope to be in Chicago for a game this fall.

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