Forget everything except that your next opponent is going to repeat every move that just worked against you.
That’s Andrew Thomas’ advice to Evan Neal, from one Giants offensive tackle, who struggled mightily as a rookie, to one coming off his worst game at any level of his football career.
“I’m just encouraging him to keep working and have a short-term memory,” Thomas said. “A reminder that the stuff you put on film, the rushers next week are watching that, so clean that up and keep working the technique. He is a talented kid. Has all the tools in the world and is mature, so I’m confident in him.”
Thomas is graded as far and away the best offensive tackle in the NFL early in his third season, according to Pro Football Focus. So, it’s no surprise that defenses are directing their pressures at Neal and struggling veteran guard Mark Glowinski on the right side of the Giants’ line instead of at Thomas, on quarterback Daniel Jones’ left side.
Neal’s messy footwork against the speed rush of the Cowboys’ Demarcus Lawrence led to a loss of balance during the Giants’ loss Monday night. Three sacks and two other pressures allowed were the result.
Thomas has been there. He allowed 10 sacks (two games with multiples) and a NFL-rookie-high 57 pressures (five games with five or more) in 2020. While he can pass along the same message with which veterans used to reassure him, Thomas appreciates that it is easier said than done.
“It’s definitely not easy, especially coming from college where you dominate,” Thomas said. “But I think he has a good attitude about it. He’s always asking me about different pointers and asking different questions in meetings trying to get better.”
The best news for Neal might be the quick turnaround from the loss to the Cowboys as the Giants prepare for their game Sunday against the Bears. That has made it so that “we kind of had to put it to bed fairly quickly,” rather than thinking about it on a typical day off.
“Sometimes when you try to do something a certain way or something a coach teaches you doesn’t work, you are quick to do whatever,” Thomas said. “You have to stay focused on the process of getting better. Mentally, blocking out the noise is easy to say, but in this day and age we all have social media. Doing your best to control what you can control — and you can’t control what people say about you. What you put on film has to be your main focus.”