Watch CBS News

Block: Giants' Hopes May Very Well Rest On Flowers Keeping Eli Safe

By Benjamin Block

For the Giants to emerge with a victory from Sunday's NFC wild card game in Green Bay, they will need a big performance from one player in particular.

It would be easy to point the finger at Eli Manning or Odell Beckham, Jr., but someone a bit more nondescript will need to do his job well so that they can do theirs.

Ereck Flowers.

The enormous left tackle out of the University of Miami had a poor-to-middling regular season. Shockingly undisciplined in his technique, Flowers committed a team-high 12 penalties, eight of which were for holding.

It's imperative that he doesn't carry that over to Sunday, as a strong and controlled showing from him would heavily dictate the measure of success that Big Blue's offense can inflict on the Packers' 22nd-ranked defense.

MORE10 Most Memorable Performances In Giants Playoff History

Flowers' consistent inability to guard against pressure that Manning doesn't see would likely neutralize the top options the Giants have. Manning without blind side protection is Tony Bennett without a microphone, George Steinbrenner without the Yankees.

Ereck Flowers
Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, Flowers has struggled mightily with his pass protection and keeping Manning upright this year, at least not without committing costly penalties. Alternatively, his run-blocking has been more of a strength, which has been evident when the Giants have run to the left side.

However, even the most ardent of Giants fans with a predilection for their team have voiced season-long diatribes, frustrated with Flowers' less-than-advertised play. Some hypochondriacal diehards have written off the 22-year-old as possibly the worst offensive tackle in the NFL.

And more often than not, the No. 9 pick in the 2015 draft has proven them right, proving to be as big a disappointment as his 6-foot-6, 329-pound frame.

The effectiveness of Giants receivers Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz, as well as the recent success of the two-headed running attack of Paul Perkins and Rashad Jennings, cannot thrive if Flowers doesn't pull his weight on an already suspect line.

While Manning's protection up front only allowed 21 sacks this year, as compared to the 27 that the 2007 Super Bowl-winning line permitted, this year's crew doesn't have the luxury of being household names, yet. David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara, Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie these guys are not.

Sunday's five starters will all be playing in their first playoff game. Manning will have to rely especially heavily on Flowers and Justin Pugh to fend off Green Bay's edge rushers, featuring the dangerously relentless Clay Matthews.

It will be vital for Manning to trust his inexperienced line, and get the ball into the hands of his playmakers, quickly. By establishing continuity on offense, the Giants will keep their 10th-ranked defense fresh, and a red-hot Aaron Rodgers off the field in the process.

MOREPalladino: McAdoo Helped Create Packers' Monster, Now Must Destroy It

Rookie head coach Ben McAdoo told WFAN's Mike Francesa during his weekly spot on Thursday, "Any time you have a chance to catch the football or touch the football in one of these games, you hold the fate of the whole team in your hands."

While true, Sunday's game will likely be won or lost by the guys who won't touch the ball -- the men in the trenches; Flowers, Pugh, Bobby Hart, John Jerry and Weston Richburg.

The last time the Giants and Packers met was in Week 5 and Flowers was badly outplayed by Matthews, as he allowed two sacks and committed a holding penalty. He compounded one of his worst games of the season when he shoved an ESPN reporter in front of his locker after the game.

Let's hope Flowers can channel those bully tactics into something productive Sunday. Because if he plays well, all will be forgiven.

As long as the Giants win, of course.

Follow Benjamin on Twitter at @benjaminblock21

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.