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Film study: What happened to the right side of the Giants’ OL vs. Dallas?

Mark Glowinski and Evan Neal had rough nights on Sunday

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Saying the New York Giants struggled to protect Daniel Jones vs. the Dallas Cowboys is a vast understatement. Jones was sacked seven times and faced pressure on more than 60% of his dropbacks. The Cowboys had 39 individual pressures, which was more than the Giants’ defense recorded in both Dallas’ matchups last season.

According to Pro Football Focus, the right side of the Giants’ line surrendered 17 pressures. Of all qualifying offensive linemen in Week 1, Mark Glowinski had the lowest Pro Football Focus grade, and tackle Evan Neal had the eighth-lowest. We don’t need PFF to tell us how poor the right side of the Giants offensive line was, though; it was more than apparent throughout the game.

Evan Neal’s second-year leap is still possible, but there was no sign of it Sunday night. Neal looked slow, unconfident, and didn’t play within the framework of his body; he lunged too frequently, had questionable angles, and his redirection/adjustment skills were poor.

Like Neal, Glowinski struggled last season. He surrendered 37 pressures, which was the 11th-most for guards. Some propounded benching Glowinski last season when his pass protection was a liability; that didn’t happen, but the healthy presence of Marcus McKethan, and Josh Ezeudu, makes it, at least, a viable option if Glowinski continues to play poorly.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for Sunday’s fiasco, but the level of culpability with the Giants’ protection, specifically on the right side, is palpable. Let’s start with Evan Neal:

Evan Neal is No. 73

Evan Neal

Left side of screen

Neal is isolated one-on-one against Dante Fowler Jr. (56), with Daniel Bellinger (82) paying mind to Jayron Kearse (1). Bellinger’s presence may have negated Neal from executing a vertical set to make the angle more advantageous. I’m not necessarily focusing on that; what does worry me is the slow nature and lack of twitch that seems evident throughout Neal’s tape.

Neal’s athletic ability was lauded when he decided to enter the 2022 NFL Draft, but he did not test at the combine or at his pro day. Many didn’t question Neal’s athletic profile because we saw him do ridiculously impressive split-stance box jumps, which still blows my mind, but do we see that explosiveness translate to the field?

According to ESPN, Neal’s SPARQ score was 89.55 coming out of IMG Academy. That was in the top 20% of his class, but much of that grade was influenced by the power throw - Neal had the best throw of the 2019 recruiting class. Split-stance box jumps and sleek 340-pound shirtless pictures aside, I’m not certain Neal has the elite functional NFL athletic ability we initially believed when the Giants spent the seventh pick in the 2022 draft on him.

Want a glass-half-full opinion? This is only his second consecutive season starting at right tackle - there may still be an adjustment period, but plays like the one below lead to understandable questions:

Left side of screen

The Giants assisted Neal with Bellinger and running back Saquon Barkley (26) vs. Micah Parsons (11), and Jones still got hit. Neal’s feet are stuck in the ground, his hips are high, and he lunges, while his feet don’t move at all until it’s too late. Even if Neal was attempting to lead Parsons into Barkley, his inability to stay on his feet and frame his positioning more advantageously is telling. He just stopped moving, tried to latch on, and was twirled to the deck upon Parsons contacting Barkley.

Right side of screen

Dorance Armstrong (92) is the 6-technique between Neal and Darren Waller (12). Armstrong initiated the contact, and Neal gave up his chest. Neal is high into contact with little pop to stop. Once Armstrong got shoulder to shoulder, he leaned into Neal and employed the rip move; Neal lunged, was off-balanced, and failed to cut the angle off with his feet/positioning. Losing to Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence is understandable, but getting beat by players like Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr. is a problem if we expect Neal to live up to his draft hype.

Right side of screen

Neal was beaten again around the edge; this time by Fowler Jr. Neal opened his hips after his first step, giving the pass-rusher a better angle into the pocket. The depth of his sets was off in this game, and this is the second play where he had Bellinger behind him; I wonder if that forced his set to be flatter on a 45-degree angle rather than a vertical set that could have helped with the wide rusher. Still, he seemed so unconfident and unsure of where to be to handle the wide rushers all game.

Right side of screen

Neal’s positioning is passive and the depth of his set his shallow. I’m not sure if he expected Barkley to contact DeMarcus Lawrence (90) because he essentially allows Lawrence into his outside shoulder and the veteran pass rusher just bull-rushes Neal to the ground. The positioning, leverage at the point of attack, and lack of anchor were bad.

Right side of screen

Sam Williams (54) slanted inside from a wide rushing spot, and Neal was a bit slow to redirect his weight and force Williams into the guard. Williams penetrated, got low, and Neal failed to protect the inside. He frequently is reaching and lunging with his feet behind him. That has to change.

Right side of screen

Here’s a run play that I want to highlight because it displays some of the issues that have plagued Neal in his young career. Neal is 6-foot-7, so, naturally, it’s more difficult for him to keep his pads lower than his opponent; this problem is compounded when Neal can’t protect his chest or re-sink his center of gravity once his power is exhausted. Neal attempted to drive through contact versus Lawrence, and his chest got too far ahead of his feet. Lawrence tossed him to the ground for an easy shed. This was a problem for Neal in college, and it’s yet to be rectified.

Mark Glowinski

The veteran guard consistently had his outside hand attacked by violent club moves combined with shoulder dips to break contact and separate into the pocket. Glowinski often lost against power rushing moves against defenders with good lateral agility who could run around him. There are several instances of that below:

Anchor, imprecise hands, and a lack of continuity in terms of picking up twists plagued the right side of the Giants line all night. Dallas frequently used wide rushers to slant inside, and they exchanged gaps to create miscommunication errors against the Giants’ protection. It worked, and it was one of Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s primary methods of wreaking havoc with four pass rushers in passing situations.

Final thoughts

These clips are the worst of Neal and Glowinski’s snaps from the game. They both had rough outings, but not every play was a disaster. So, what is wrong with the right side of the Giants' offensive line?

Dallas’ ran a lot of their twists with a wide rusher and a 4-technique who was directly over Evan Neal. The 4-technique took a direct path into Neal, and the wide-rusher would also attack the B-Gap. It appears, in those situations, the Giants were man-blocking, and Dallas’ twist game was pristine with its timing and execution. The pair on the right side had issues when the protection slid to the opposite side, and both Neal and Glowinski were one-on-one with no twist.

There were times when they did attempt to pass off on twists, but the two never seemed comfortable working together, or in general. Framing blocks by staying square to target and initiating/sustaining contact are both areas in pass protection where Glowinski and Neal struggle. Glowinski’s inability to handle power rushes, followed by subsequent evasive moves, hurt him last season. Neal’s technical issues, combined with leverage problems, aren’t allowing him to scratch his potential.

Neal is rarely framed well when in pass protection, and his ability to recover when beaten is marginal. He doesn't dictate or control well with his outside hand; rushers too frequently get into his outside shoulder and use their flexibility to dip underneath his massive frame. The combination of questionable feet and non-authoritative hands are troublesome for the young player.

Offensive line gurus state that most issues stem from footwork. Bad footwork leads to poor positioning, which can be compounded by overcompensating in other areas, which can lead to pad-level problems. This describes Neal to some degree. However, his recovery speed and propensity to keep his feet stagnant are issues that have to be corrected, the former of which could be an athletic complication we didn’t expect relative to the player Giants’ fans assumed they were receiving when they selected him in 2022. Another aspect of Neal that could be causing poor play is confidence, but I can’t say for certain if that’s the case.

I’m not quitting on Neal. Yes, Sunday’s game showed no signs of improvement over his dismal rookie season. Still, he’s a 22-year-old conscientious individual who went up against one of the best pass-rushing defenses in the league. I can’t say I’m optimistic, but I’m not quitting just yet.

As for Glowinski, the inability to execute twists with Neal is surprising, due to his veteran nature. He struggled in one-on-one situations last season, especially when defenders could establish the half-man relationship and get hip-to-hip, which we witnessed in Week 1. If he has another game like Sunday’s 40-0 loss, serious conversations will likely ensue.

There are many areas of improvement throughout the Giants' roster and operation. One of the major ones is the protection problems on the right side of the offensive line. That must improve if the Giants want any chance of competing for the playoffs.