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Film analysis: Why Giants’ Mark Glowinski is struggling in pass protection

Should the Giants consider someone else at right guard?

Detroit Lions v New York Giants Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

The New York Giants had an obvious need on the interior offensive line after a dismal 2021 season. The Giants’ cap situation was prohibitive, but new general manager Joe Schoen was able to sign veteran right guard Mark Glowinski to a three-year, $18 million contract with $11.4 million guaranteed.

Glowinski has always been a better run blocker than a pass protector, and that remains true this season. However, Glowinski’s pass protection issues have stifled drives and forced quarterback Daniel Jones into precarious situations.

We’re going to examine Glowinksi’s snaps since the Giants’ bye week. New York is 1-2-1 since their bye. Although Glowinski’s pass-protecting struggles existed all year, they seem more glaring over the last three games.

On the season, Glowinski has allowed five sacks, which already matches a career high. He has allowed 27 pressures, the seventh-highest in the NFL among guards. Among 73 qualifying guards Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 62nd overall guard in pass protection.

As a run blocker, he ranks 27th overall, and in total offense, he's 40th ranked. Glowinski’s best trait is his movement skills at the second level. This key block against Tennessee helped the Giants to the upset victory.

This is a savvy veteran block that required exceptional foot quickness to locate the safety just before Saquon Barkley (26) arrived. There are a few sensational blocks, such as this one, for Glowinski but the pass protection issues remain a damning problem.

Glowinski’s anchor against power rushers - especially when they get into his chest - is a problem, but the framing of blocks, combined with an inconsistent ability to protect his edges, is the primary issue.

Here’s a synopsis of Glowinski’s play since the Giants’ Week 9 bye week.

(Mark Glowinski is No. 64 and he plays RIGHT GUARD)

Pass protection issues

Glowinski has done a poor job allowing defenders to win their half-man relationship against him in pass protection. It’s not for a lack of foot speed, which is something Glowinski possesses; this makes these struggles a frustrating reality with his inability to successfully protect either shoulder.

Glowinski attempts to quickly jump Alim McNeill (54), but the defensive linemen shoves Glowinski’s inside arm and momentum outward while using an arm-over move to create separation. Glowinski’s high into contact, and McNeill goes right through his inside shoulder with little resistance.

The soft shoulder was an issue before the bye week for Glowinski, but defenders with lateral agility and heavy hands have successfully gone around Glowinski over the last few weeks; it happens in the play below against Daron Payne (94) as well.

The center slides to the 1-technique, and Payne slants inward to the A-Gap. Payne broke contact with Glowinski to create separation before employing a rip move and stressing Glowinski by getting hip-to-hip. The right guard has to hold onto his body turned 90 degrees while Payne pressured Daniel Jones (8).

McNeill, as a 3-technique, uses a hard inside fake to freeze Glowinski’s catch foot from gaining depth. The hesitation forces Glowinski to open his gate a bit as he punches with a slight lean forward. McNeill gets his inside hand on Glowinski’s chest while using his outside hand to break Glowinski’s contact; from there, McNeill uses his strength to bully through Glowinski’s outside shoulder and into the pocket. Excellent play by Jones to find Wan’Dale Robinson (17) for a solid gain.

The Giants have six men in protection, and Glowinski’s assignment is the 4i-technique. Glowinski hardly drives off his inside foot, which gave Maliek Collins (96) an extra split-second to penetrate the B-Gap. Collins’ quickness to penetrate forces Glowinski to take a deeper second step, which opens his hips up more and gives Collins less resistance through Glowinski’s outside shoulder. At the point of contact, Collins is already hip-to-hip, so just a power swipe to create more separation allows Collins to corner into the pocket and sack Jones.

Glowinski opens to the 4i-shade but oversets against Payne, who quickly flashes a club/rip to have a wide-open path right at Jones. Glowinski seems to be overly anticipatory and less reactive with his pass sets, leading to advantageous angles for defenders.

Glowinski loses badly to Chauncey Golston’s (99) outside arm chop; the pass-rusher stabbed with his inside arm to halt Glowinski’s momentum outside before negating any outside arm contact by Glowinski. He maintained contact with the inside arm until he had the desired separation and was beyond the hip-to-hip relationship. Golston proceeded to run around Glowinski and into the pocket.

DeMarcus Lawrence (90) employs a cross-chop/swipe move against Glowinski on what looked like a possible twist attempt that was somewhat foiled by Tyre Phillips’ (79) cut block that led to two Dallas defenders colliding. However, Lawrence is so quick and efficient with his hands that Glowinski is caught leaning into the contact before falling forward with Lawrence behind him.

Glowinski's anchor is marginal when he allows defensive linemen into his chest. On the play above, he frames the block well and doesn’t allow Payne to work to either side, so the pass-rushing defensive linemen attempts to run through him with a bull rush. Payne’s inside long-arm move, coupled with his ability to disallow outside-arm contact by Glowinski, allowed the defender to use his lower-leg drive and brute strength to win his one-on-one matchup.

The struggles in pass protection have plagued Glowinski throughout the 2022 season, but he isn’t a completely inept player as a pass protector. Sure, it’s not ideal to have power rushers bull-rush him, and he certainly struggles to consistently stay in front of defenders as they rush.

Still, he has quick feet (although he does not maximize the quickness), and he loses slowly enough to typically give Daniel Jones enough time to evade or find an option downfield. There are worse pass-protecting guards in the NFL than Mark Glowinski, but reliable starters must do a better job protecting their edges and framing their blocks than Glowinski has in 2022.

Run blocking

This article seems negative ... I get that; here’s an impressive act, though, that not many guards can perform.

When uncovered from the backside on outside runs, Glowinski’s ability to get to the second level and cut off angles is impressive. Glowinski looks to be shot out of a cannon as he locates the linebacker and drives him 10 yards off his spot.

Here’s a similar play against Green Bay:

New York runs a BASH QB GT Counter in their opening script - a play the Ravens frequently run with Lamar Jackson. Unfortunately, Jones fumbled the football, but I do love the play design and the execution by Glowinski on the lead pull.

Run counter against the ODD front and block down the three linemen to force the EDGE rusher to contain and the second-level defenders to read, react, and attack - something the Giants’ defense sees often. Glowinski does a solid job kicking out Montez Sweat (90); he kind of hugs him a bit, but he drives his feet on contact and makes the gap wider for Jones if he so chooses to run between Glowinski and Neal. Allen made an unreal spin off Thomas’ block to force the fumble.

Although Glowinski struggles to judge the best path when in pass protection, he typically does well on reach blocks as a play side guard.

Glowinski does a great job reaching Payne and driving him off his spot to allow Saquon Barkley to explode into an open A-Gap.

Glowinski takes the 2i-technique and drives him well off the line of scrimmage before Feliciano helps him finish the block with authority.

Glowinski receives some help from Phillips but finishes his block against McNeill in a commanding fashion. What I like most about this play is Glowinski isn’t in the optimal position in the initial stages of the play; his hat is high, and McNeill is in an advantageous position to shed with how he torques back to the outside. Glowinski does a good job maintaining his hands inside McNeill before sinking his hips - taking control with leverage - to allow him to drive through the ground and finish his block.

The return of Evan Neal (73) is one reason why I’m holding out some hope that the running game can be rejuvenated. The most likely path to the revitalization may be with Glowinski in the lineup. Neal and Glowinski dominate Allen at the line of scrimmage and completely own the point of attack.

The veteran and the rookie seem to have a rapport with these COMBO blocks. It’s plausible that Neal’s power and drive in COMBO situations could translate to success with another guard next to him, but the pair have shown good teamwork and non-verbal communication in these situations.

Run game struggles

Slanting defensive linemen have given the Giants problems in recent weeks, and Glowinski has issues judging the angles and locating penetrating defenders who stunt at the snap.

Golston slants into the A-Gap from a 4i-position and cleanly gets penetration into the backfield. Teams notice the tendencies of Glowinski’s sets and how he reacts to certain alignments/shades; that’s another reason why Glowinski has struggled against teams that exchange gaps at the snap. Miscommunication is another reason, as we see below:

Isaiah Buggs (96) easily gets into the backfield around Glowinski, but, to be fair, I believe Glowinski was anticipating center help from Feliciano.

Overall strength issues when defenders get into Glowinski’s chest are difficult for him to overcome. Neville Gallimore (96) quickly fits his hands and gets low into contact; Nick Gates (65) helps Glowinski with a solid chip before climbing to the second level, but Glowinski can never establish control on Gallimore because the defender has access to his chest and effectively employs his upper-body strength in a more controlling manner.

The Giants task Glowinski to fold down on the 2i-shade to allow Feliciano to pull around, but Glowinski can’t keep Payne from disrupting the run; the defensive linemen pushes right through Glowinski’s inside shoulder, and the play is blown up.

Final thoughts

In a press conference this week, Brian Daboll suggested that Ben Bredeson (knee) could perhaps return soon. Bredeson is about halfway through his 21-day window to return after he was designated to return from injured reserve. Josh Ezeudu (neck) and Shane Lemieux (toe) remain out of practice.

Glowinski’s struggles have prompted conversations about a possible benching - these conversations are warranted and fair. The Giants should always look to field their best five players on the offensive line, and that would require difficult conversations. However, I still believe Glowinski should start on a short leash at right guard unless the struggles persist.

The Giants were forced to plug new offensive linemen into the starting lineup after Bredeson and Neal were injured in Week 7. It was around that time when Glowinski’s struggles seemed enhanced.

The continuity and growth between the offensive line was fractured, but now Neal is back, and we witnessed dominating COMBO blocks on the right side - as we saw earlier in the season:

Or, even like we saw with Glowinski and Feliciano earlier in the season:

This Giants' rushing attack needs to be revitalized, and the combination of Neal and Glowinski on the right side could act as a catalyst, although this week against Philadelphia will be tough.

In his 214 pass-protecting snaps this season at left guard, Bredeson was a more technically sound player with a better anchor. He framed his blocks much better than Glowinski, and it’s one reason why he’s only allowed six pressures and zero sacks on the season.

Continuity with teammates is very important, but that’s not the main reason to keep Glowinski in the lineup. Replacing Glowinski might require a lot of shuffling around, which would alter not just continuity with teammates but continuity for players with specific positions. I’m not certain how sensible that would be this late in the season, albeit the Giants have a versatile offensive line.

If offensive line coach Bobby Johnson is confident that Bredeson can play right guard, then I would trust that, but he has only eight regular-season snaps at right guard. In his rookie season with Baltimore, he did have snaps at right guard in the preseason, but how translatable is that to this offense during a late playoff push?

Jon Feliciano has 1,789 career snaps at right guard, although most of them were in 2019 as a Buffalo Bill under Johnson. The Giants could move Gates to center, Bredeson to left guard, and Feliciano to the right side if Johnson believed his players could handle those specific responsibilities and techniques.

I typically would err towards a superior pass protector over a better run blocker, but Bredeson returning from an injured knee and transitioning to a position where he doesn’t have a lot of experience is concerning. The Giants could use a familiar approach and rotate offensive linemen if there are issues.

But for Week 14 specifically, I think the Giants should give Glowinski one last shot with a short leash. If he struggles with the strength of yet another strong defensive front, then New York should look to another starting option against the likes of Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne in Week 15.