Giants’ 2023 season sits on the shoulders of one player

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Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have staked a lot on second-year right tackle Evan Neal, making his dismal Week 1 outing especially concerning. With little salary space to bring in reinforcements, the Giants find themselves in a precarious position where Neal’s performance could dictate the course of their entire season.

Alongside starting right guard Mark Glowinski, Neal surrendered a staggering 17 combined pressures and four sacks. Hailing from Alabama, Neal is coming off a lackluster rookie season where he played 862 offensive snaps, allowing 52 pressures, including eight sacks and seven penalties.

Dallas Showdown: Neal Vs. Elite Pass Rushers

Facing Dallas’s elite pass rushers, Neal didn’t fare any better. He yielded eight pressures, one sack, and even incurred a penalty. The game film reveals a player who is off-balance and slow to react, turning him into a liability on the line. Even with starting left tackle Andrew Thomas nursing a minor hamstring injury, Neal couldn’t hold his ground against Dallas’s backup edge rushers. This should sound alarm bells for a Giants coaching staff that has gambled on Neal’s improvement.

The Skill Gap: Neal and Thomas Compared

Unfortunately, 22-year-old Neal seems to lack the speed and agility to position himself effectively on the field. When you observe Neal and Thomas side by side, it becomes clear that these are two players operating at fundamentally different levels. Thomas can achieve significant depth in his kick stance, buying himself valuable time to counter incoming pass rushers. Neal, on the other hand, often finds himself futilely chasing after them.

Limited Alternatives: The Struggles of Matt Peart

The harsh reality is that the Giants’ offensive woes will persist if Neal continues to underperform. The only other option is Matt Peart, a former third-round draft pick who has had his own struggles and even picked up an injury against the Cowboys after Thomas was sidelined.

Giants’ Playbook Limitations: The Domino Effect on Daniel Jones and the Offense

As long as the Giants’ playbook remains limited due to inadequate pass protection for quarterback Daniel Jones, the offense will inevitably suffer. In essence, the entire season hinges on Neal’s ability to make rapid improvements. Failure to do so puts the Giants squarely in a worst-case scenario, where the team’s hopes could swiftly crumble.

Neal’s performance is a ticking clock, and as each game passes, the stakes get increasingly higher for a team that has so much riding on his shoulders.

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