Film breakdown: David Diehl wasn’t terrible on Sunday, it was just the timing of one bad play

For the last year and a half, David Diehl has not been good.  That’s actually a little bit of an understatement.  Against the Buccaneers, Diehl went down with an MCL injury, and when he was healthy to play once again this week against the Steelers, he was reinserted back into the starting lineup.  Sean Locklear hit the pine to make room for Diehl, as the Giants evidently abide by the “starters can’t lose their job due to injury” thing.

Problem is, Locklear has been what I’ll refer to as a “functional” player.  He’s limited in what he can do athletically, particularly in the run game and the screen game, where he has shown little ability to get to the second level and make blocks.  However, he’s been serviceable as a pass blocker.

Someone with the YouTube account “NYGiantsCentral” edited together tape of all of Locklear’s snaps against the Redskins.  This was a good, but certainly not perfect game for Locklear, but you can see his athletic limitations:

“Functional” is a big upgrade over whatever adjective you’d you to describe Diehl’s play over the last year and a half, and Giants fans were right to be upset when Diehl re-gained his job.

Diehl is catching heat this week from some NY media outlets as well.  From Josh Alper of NBC NY:

BAD: Hate to say we told you so, but we said last week that the decision to move back to David Diehl at right tackle made no sense. The running game did nothing and Diehl continues to be a liability in pass protection in front of a quarterback who looked uncharacteristically skittish in the face of the Steelers rush on Sunday.


David Diehl returned to the starting lineup at right tackle for the first time since suffering a knee injury in Week 2. He did not fare well against Pittsburgh’s speed up front.

Eli Manning was sacked twice in the fourth quarter by Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, both of whom raced around the right side Diehl was manning in place of Sean Locklear.

I watched the tape on Diehl this week, and found that he really didn’t play all that badly, and frankly, is flat out unfair in their assessment of Diehl.  Here’s the Timmons sack they attributed to Diehl.  Diehl and Timmons are circled:

At the snap, Diehl locks up on LaMarr Woodley.  Woodley tries and inside move and Diehl rides him right down the line, while Timmons comes on a delayed blitz.  Notice Ahmad Bradshaw not seeing Timmons coming on the blitz:

Timmons has a free lane, and Eli is meat:

How many guys is Diehl supposed to block?

I also took issue with NBC’s blanket statement that “Diehl continues to be a liability in pass protection in front of a quarterback who looked uncharacteristically skittish in the face of the Steelers rush on Sunday.”

That simply wasn’t the case.  On 27 of 29 dropbacks, Diehl did his job.  By my count, he allowed one pressure, and one sack.  The sack was on the Giants’ last offensive play of the game, so I’m not sure how Diehl’s bad play made Eli skittish for 60 minutes, as is implied by NBC.

Here are the two plays where I would hold Diehl at least partially accountable.  LaMarr Woodley is lined up over Diehl, with Larry Foote in Woodley’s back pocket:

Diehl knows he has outside help from Bradshaw, so he’s trying to take the inside rusher, which he diagnoses as Woodley, who he engages on.  Bradshaw sees this, so he locks in and has his sights set on Foote:

However, Foote stops, and cuts inside:

Diehl, thinking he needs to take the inside rusher, leaves Woodley and tries to get to Foote, except Bradshaw has already committed to Foote:

By the time Diehl realizes Bradshaw took the inside guy, Woodley is by him with a free run to the QB.

That play led to a throwaway by Eli.

The other bad play by Diehl was a lot more black and white.  It was the Giants’ last play on offense on Sunday.  Woodley gets a great jump at the snap:

…and does a straight speed rush.  Nothing fancy here:

Woodley gets the edge and hits Eli as he tries to throw:

And gets the strip sack:

The Giants are able to recover the fumble, but they punt and never see the ball again.  On this play, Diehl is clearly beaten soundly.

David Diehl is a liability, no question, and the timing of that play most definitely hurt.  But let’s be careful about taking that one bad play on Sunday and pretending he looked like Winston Justice against Osi Umenyiora.

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  1. Bob says:

    Glad to see some journalists actually study, rather than looking at a couple of highlight reel plays and making a knee jerk response. Good on you.

  2. […] In Defense of David Diehl In Defense of David Diehl  […]

  3. ct17 says:

    Bradshaw had a lot of trouble diagnosing blitzes on Sunday. He missed several guys, often on delays. There was one play Bradshaw and Hyno were both left in to block, and the blitzes came untouched up the middle.

  4. joe says:

    probably should mention his penalty as well. The giants bigger issues are the inability to take a hobbled Hakeem Nicks (Barden and Randle have proven effective) off the field and the lack of distribution of snaps between the running backs. David Wilson should get at least one series a game.

    1. That’s fair. He did have the false start at the end of the half, which probably contributed to Tynes’ miss (short).

      1. joe says:

        Also David Baas is playing hurt. When he is healthy he is one of the best centers in the league. Unfortunately i think the Giants have maybe got him at 95%+ for 5 games in the past two years.

        1. NYG_slater says:

          “one of the best centers in the league”……

          What color kool-aid are you drinking? Baas may have hurt his ankle a couple weeks ago, but even when healthy he’s been mediocre at best…his 15 QB pressures allowed leads all centers in the league.

          1. joe says:

            Maybe i am drinking the kool-aid because i know his potential based on his absolute manhandling of Vince Wilfork in the superbowl.

            For my defense, Football Outsiders has Giants as the number 7 team on runs in the 0-3 gaps – which means Baas is doing something right.

            Pressure allowed can be a misleading number because a center is rarely heads up on a defender and is often required to pick up delayed blitzes. Second, playing for Eli manning who likes to move vertically in the pocket can inflate pressure numbers. Finally, what is considered a pressure allowed is very vague, you see guys get credited with pressures on screens when its there job to get down field. On the converse, saying sacks allowed is not fair because the QB could just get rid of the ball.

            Baas also had serious concussion/neck issues in 2011, Despite all this, he only gave up 1.5 sacks last regular season. I know his advanced metrics were subpar but he was playing next to a banged up Snee and David Diehl for the former-part of the season.

            David Baas is playing with an ankle injury that would sideline a large % of lineman in the league. Baas shows true grit on the field, and delivers heavy blows to second level defensive players. Those are stats that don’t show up on the stat card. Look at a guy like Kevin Booth, a great player in his own right who is often rated highly by PFF – but how often do you see him knock the crap out of guy? Those aforementioned blows are the things that set up the run game, to win games. I look at the 49ers game as a great example of a healthy Baas showing up and putting hard blows on Bowman and Willis enabling the late game rushing success.

  5. TylerD says:

    LOL if you want a dust up post this article over a BBV. So what’s the verdict the Giants are fine with Diehl and we are overeacting to Dave being a starter again?

    1. Jimmy Kempski says:

      No, not at all. Locklear should be starting, but I think people are overreacting about Diehl’s play on Sunday.

      1. brisulph says:

        Completely agreed Jimmy… Locklear has to play. I disagree on Diehl, as he spent most the day clutching and grabbing for dear life, but somehow did not get flagged for it. The stats don’t bear it, but he had a VERY poor day overall.

    2. And go right ahead. Post away over there. Always interested in what those guys have to say.

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