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Ereck Flowers' struggles exemplify tough Week 1 for Giants

The New York Giants made offseason headlines by signing the premier left tackle in free agency, Nate Solder. But it was their other tackle who caused more consternation in the months before the preseason with his brief May holdout.

Ereck Flowers eventually returned to the team and has since earned the starting right tackle job. Week 1 presented him with quite a challenge in the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Unfortunately for he and the Giants, it didn't go well.

Flowers' struggles began on New York's first play of the day, on which he was beaten so badly inside, his last-ditch attempt of tripping Calais Campbell drew a flag.

Flowers took an exaggerated wide pass drop, attempting to match Campbell's alignment by dropping at a wider angle than usual. Campbell identified this and broke inside with a swim move that left an outward-leaning Flowers unbalanced, so much that when his weight shifted to his outside foot, he could quickly kick up his left leg in a motion that seemed almost natural. But tripping is illegal, and not what any lineman is meant to do.

Two plays later, he was overpowered by the massive Campbell, who got his hands inside Flowers' chest and bullrushed him, forcing Flowers to grab the outside of his pads and hang on for dear life. Any lineman caught with his hands outside like this is destined for a holding penalty. Flowers was no different.

It didn't end there for Flowers, though. The team known as Sacksonville recorded just two sacks, but caused much more havoc, pressuring Eli Manning 10 times, according to Next Gen Stats. The first sack can be blamed on Flowers.

Rushing from an alignment known as a wide 9, Jacksonville's Lerentee McCray hesistated on his rush, allowing him a delayed advantage over Flowers, who was in the first steps of his pass drop. McCray engaged, slapped away Flowers' hands and used his inside edge for a direct path to Manning.

Two other ugly plays arrived later in the game: First, early in the fourth, a crushing interception came as a result of a fooled Flowers.

Linebacker Telvin Smith began the play appearing to blitz the B gap, drawing Flowers' head inside to correctly protect the inside. Problem was, Smith didn't end up blitzing. This allowed Yannick Ngakoue an advantage with his edge rush, bursting around an out-of-position Flowers to pressure Manning into throwing while being hit. Manning's pass was tipped and intercepted by Myles Jack, who returning it for a crushing pick six.

Here, Flowers was presented with a no-win situation. With Saquon Barkley running an angle route, Flowers had to protect without help of a blocking back. Inside pressure always takes precedence, so Flowers wasn't necessarily in the wrong -- he just didn't recover in time.

Not all was bad for Flowers. He was mostly adequate in the run game, and his zone block on Malik Jackson wasn't stellar but he took Jackson inside, clearing a hole for Barkley, who then did the rest of the work by breaking a tackle, changing course and winning the race to the end zone.

But largely, it was a forgettable day for Flowers, who has a history of such outings. On a crucial fourth down facing a five-point deficit, McCray beat Flowers around the edge, forcing Manning to step up and get rid of the ball with a heave to Sterling Shepard, which ended up as an incompletion.

New York's offense became a shorter one designed to get the ball out quickly, or take a deep shot in Week 1. The Giants schemed some tight-end help for Flowers, but didn't give him much with a running back.

So how does this translate to Week 2? New York travels to Dallas for a meeting with the Cowboys, who sacked Cam Newton three times and pressured him on 20.7 percent of attempts in Week 1.

Flowers will face DeMarcus Lawrence -- who recorded one sack on a stunt -- for the majority of the afternoon. Lawrence can be very effective -- he finished with 14.5 sacks in 2017 -- but Dallas isn't quite Jacksonville when it comes to pressuring the quarterback.

Notable, though, is the fact Dallas rushed only four on 75.9 percent of pass plays, per Next Gen Stats. Carolina's banged-up offensive line isn't the best comparison, but that number shows New York could end up having a better day, especially if they give Flowers more help from a back or tight end.

This will be more of a team effort than a focus on Flowers, but the tackle needs to have a better Sunday after one he'd probably like to bury.

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