For the last several years the Giants have had an unusual amount of consistency on their offensive line.
From left tackle to right they had David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara, Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie in the lineup almost every week and the group played a big part in helping the team to the Super Bowl. Cracks began to show in the armor in 2009 and injuries wrecked the stability altogether last season, but the Giants remained adamant that they didn't need big changes up front.
It seems that someone in the organization is a fan of misdirection because the first three days of this unusually brief NFL offseason have sent the team in a totally new direction. O'Hara and Seubert were let go, David Baas was signed to play center and now comes word that David Diehl will move from left tackle to left guard.
It is never easy to say goodbye to players who have meant as much to a team as O'Hara and Seubert nor is it a piece of cake to tell a longtime starter he can't hack it at his position anymore (especially when Diehl's contract pays him less when he's not a tackle), but these are positive moves for the Giants. Veteran players who have shown signs of slipping rarely recover their losses and the Giants needed to face the hard truth about the state of their line.
Diehl hasn't been able to keep up with elite pass rushers for a couple of years now and his shortcomings exacerbated Eli Manning's issues with completing passes under pressure. O'Hara's name recognition kept winning him kudos long after his body and game betrayed him in the 2010 season.
The big question now is whether or not Will Beatty will be up to the task of protecting Manning's blind side. He had a chance in the exhibition season last year but couldn't beat out Diehl and got hurt, which led the team to sign the now-released Shawn Andrews and start him when O'Hara's injury forced the team to slide Diehl inside.
The scary part of the question is that you won't know the answer for sure until a pass rusher is bearing down on Manning with only Beatty to stop him. Without Manning, the Giants don't have much of a chance to compete for a playoff spot so Beatty had better be ready to step up into the breech.
If he is, the Giants line should be even better in 2011 than it has been the last two years. Diehl can still get the job done run blocking inside and Baas was better than either O'Hara or Seubert at center last season.
If Beatty can't, the Giants need to know that now so that they can stop wasting time on him and they'll need to do even deeper renovation of a line that was sorely in need of it.