Will Ereck Flowers Cost the Giants a Super Bowl?

BY Fansided and Zac Wassink/FanSided via NFL Spin Zone • December 15, 2016

Ereck Flowers may one day become a serviceable offensive lineman for the New York Giants, but he’s currently a liability for a team that could win a Super Bowl.

The poor play New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers in 2016 simply can’t be ignored. Flowers has become a liability on the New York offensive line. He was responsible for quarterback Eli Manning fumbling the football away against the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday night and he gifted the Pittsburgh Steelers two points when he was flagged for holding in the end zone the previous week.

As Paul Schwartz of the New York Post noted prior to the Giants facing the Steelers, Flowers is one of the most flagged offensive linemen in the NFL this season.

There’s little head coach Ben McAdoo and the rest of his staff can do about Flowers and the offensive line at this point. New York obviously isn’t finding a replacement for Flowers who happens to be sitting on his couch reading pieces like this in the middle of December. The Giants could, and probably should, provide some assistance for Flowers in pass protection, but the team rarely offered him such help during the game against Dallas per Dan Duggan of NJ.com.

Flowers’ poor play is currently an albatross around the neck of a Giants team that, somewhat of nowhere, could contend for a Super Bowl over the next couple of months. The New York pass rush played well against the superb Dallas offensive line even with Jason Pierre-Paul sidelined because of injury. The current secondary of the Giants is the best unit the franchise has started over the past decade. It’s also a plus the Giants happen to feature a two-time Super Bowl MVP at quarterback.

Much has been made about Manning’s lackluster play over the past several months. Manning has currently matched 23 touchdown passes with 13 interceptions. Even though Manning is completing nearly 63 percent of his pass attempts, he is nevertheless en route to posting his worst regular season numbers since 2013.

Manning can only do so much, however, if he lacks faith in his offensive line. Not even a casual observer could blame the 35-year-old for having doubts about Flowers these days. Flowers, a second-year pro, is a left tackle in name only these days, and odds are he would be benched if McAdoo and company believed they had a suitable replacement available this coming Sunday when the Giants face the Detroit Lions.

The situation becomes all the more frustrating in the eyes of New York fans once you think about it for more than a few minutes and realize the club could’ve fixed the Flowers problem earlier this year. Joe Thomas is arguably the best left tackle of his generation, and he currently plays for a Cleveland Browns team in the middle of a historic rebuild that won’t be completed in time for Thomas to win anything of note as a member of the club.

It’s no secret the Browns were allegedly listening to offers for the club’s veterans earlier this fall. Thomas’ contract, per Spotrac, runs through the end of the 2018 season, and the Giants could’ve afforded to pay that off after reworking some numbers. Thomas probably would’ve cost the Giants a top pick, a price anybody working for the club would happily pay today seeing how close the team is to the postseason and possibly to the Super Bowl.

Trading for Thomas would’ve allowed the Giants to move Flowers over to right tackle, a switch that would’ve taken some pressure off a 22-year-old struggling to find his feet in the NFL.

Now, a future first-round pick, theoretically, could be what keeps the Giants from making a championship run between now and February.

What’s worse is it appears the Giants may have drafted the wrong lineman back in the spring of 2015. The New Orleans Saints acquired tackle Andrus Peat several picks after the Giants selected Flowers, and Peat has settled in on the left side of the team’s offensive line. As Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com pointed out, Peat has played at left guard and left tackle for the Saints.

Hindsight is 20/20, so teaches the famous saying. The Giants can’t go back in time and draft a different tackle or trade for a proven commodity such as Thomas. What, if anything, can McAdoo and his staff do to help Flowers and/or provide Manning with the protection a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback deserves?

Running back Shane Vereen is solid in pass protection, but there are concerns about his inability to remain on the field for any significant amount of time. As the previously mentioned Duggan wrote, giving Flowers a tight end as a partner on the line would help, but doing so would cause other issues:

It seems like an easy fix to anchor the tight end on Flowers’ side to help the struggling left tackle. But there’s a balance of getting the tight ends into routes quickly as safety valves, especially because there are leaks at other spots on the line. Plus, the Giants already have issues with predictability. They can’t simply line up their tight end in the same spot on every play.

Flowers remains on a rookie contract, and thus logic suggests the team will move him to guard or right tackle come 2017. For now, however, New York general manager Jerry Reese and his staff may be left wondering what could have been if Flowers wasn’t the team’s left tackle at Christmastime, especially if the Giants don’t win even a single playoff game in January.

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