Stepping Up: A Brian O’Neill Story

I can’t imagine what was going through Rookie RT Brian O’Neill’s head on Sunday as Rashod Hill went down and he was called upon. It was his first official action in an NFL game and it was a border battle between the Vikings and Packers.

Most fans widely thought that O’Neill would be a project. He received some positive reviews in preseason but still needed some time to develop. As we all know, in the NFL everything can change in a moment. Hill goes down and O’Neill comes in.

I decided to go back and watch how O’Neill handled the immense pressure of being called upon in such a key game.

Here you’ll see that the Packers are trying to bring some inside pressure. O’Neill (RT # 75) teams up with Remmers but then quickly notices Clay Matthews on a stunt and shifts over to try and protect Cousins. Cousins is then able to step up in the pocket and scamper for a little gain. Had O’Neill not gotten there in time it would’ve most likely been a sack at a crucial time of the game.

Here we see O’Neill really attacking Clay Matthews. Coming out of college he was touted as a player who was much more of a grabber than a puncher and he supposedly lacked strength. But here I see the opposite, I see O’Neill almost knocking Matthews backwards while maintaining his footwork and keeping his composure.

Similar to what we saw in the first clip, O’Neill was a crucial part of this Diggs touchdown. You can see him again helping out Remmers on the inside pressure but this time the Packers send Kenny Clark off a stunt which is a common technique used to confuse O-Lineman. O’Neill again quickly notices it and shifts outside to put a last effort block on Clark to keep the pocket clean for Cousins and the rest is history.

Run Blocking is somewhere O’Neill struggled a little bit. But not so much that it was a glaring weakness. In this clip O’Neill engages and absolutely is mauling his defender. There was a slight hold, he is struggling towards the end but he held his own long enough to where if the rest of the O-Line did there part Cook would’ve had a nice little gain.

Overall though I was thoroughly impressed by O’Neill on Sunday. For a prospect largely touted as a project he has quickly surpassed those expectations. Im excited to see him continue to improve. And although it’s a small sample size to judge, he played great, and if I’m Zim I start him Sunday vs the Bills. What a great opportunity to get some more experience. #Skol

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