The New York Giants find themselves grappling with one of the most underwhelming offensive lines in the league. According to PFF, only the Pittsburgh Steelers fare worse in the pass-blocking grade, leaving the Giants at the bottom rung.
A Troubled Right Side
The right flank of the line particularly stands out due to its inefficiency. While the absence of the stalwart left tackle Andrew Thomas has left a void on the left, the real concern is with second-year right tackle Evan Neal.
Despite attempts to refine his stance and fundamentals, Neal hasn’t shown the anticipated progress. His stats are telling: he’s relinquished a team-leading 20 pressures and a sack in just four games, encompassing 260 offensive snaps. His Week 4 performance against the Seattle Seahawks, a pivotal game in the eyes of many, saw him lead with seven pressures.
The team’s 1–3 start and the prospect of facing formidable opponents like the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills paint a bleak picture for their playoff aspirations. There’s growing speculation that the Giants might be mulling over a switch at the right tackle position, and Justin Pugh’s name is popping up in these discussions.
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The Justin Pugh Option
33-year-old veteran Justin Pugh, despite recovering from an ACL tear, has been on standby for his shot. Welcomed into the practice squad by the Giants, Pugh has a chance to gradually integrate and then make a mark in pivotal matchups. In the previous season, over five games and 263 snaps, he surrendered eight pressures. But his track record speaks for his versatility; he’s played almost everywhere except center. Notably, he has 2453 snaps at right tackle under his belt, with his last significant playtime in this role being in 2019.
While the Giants’ left guard spot sees Ben Bredeson holding the fort effectively, the prospect of moving Bredeson to right guard and slotting Pugh at left guard is an idea worth considering. But given Neal’s evident struggles, testing Pugh at right tackle during practice might be the most pragmatic approach.
The Giants’ Evan Neal Dilemma
With each passing game, it becomes more apparent that Evan Neal is becoming more of a hindrance than a help. His lackluster performance doesn’t just affect the game but also puts quarterback Daniel Jones at risk. The number of hits Jones endures could potentially lead to injuries, and Neal’s lapses contribute significantly to this.
However, the Giants’ front office hasn’t been passive. By considering players like Pugh, with a wealth of experience and some history of success, they’re proactively looking to strengthen their options. Whether it’s through practice or eventual game-time decisions, it’s evident that if Neal doesn’t elevate his game, changes are imminent.