The Dallas Cowboys won’t have it easy versus the New York Giants defense. That might not the strongest of statements given a unit led by a backup quarterback is never an inspiring thought in the NFL but even after getting the win last Sunday, we can’t ignore how much they struggled in the second half of the game.
This time, they’ll face a defense with some legit dudes. The Giants have cornerback Adoree Jackson, who has erased #1 wide receivers lately (a lot of times without help in coverage). They also have Dexter Lawrence, one of the league’s top nose tackles.
And on top of that, the Cowboys might witness the returns of edge rushers Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Without them, the Giants have been able to generate a decent amount of pressure with aggressive blitzing schemes and exotic looks that frequently involve defensive backs.
I bring all of this to state the obvious. The Cowboys must be ready to go upfront to avoid getting punched in the mouth on Monday Night. And so one of the biggest questions on Monday Night will center around one of the biggest names the team signed before the regular season:
What exactly will happen with Jason Peters?
The 40-year-old offensive lineman practiced at multiple spots during the week and took more team reps than the week before. His activation appears to be near.
During the week, Mike McCarthy talked about the team wanting to ensure Peters is “game ready.”
If elevated to the gameday roster on Monday, what will his role look like? Left tackle? Left guard? Swing tackle? It’s tough to figure out what the plan is for the future Hall of Famer. It comes down to three possibilities, the way I see it:
- Jason Peters at left tackle, Tyler Smith at left guard.
- Tyler Smith at left tackle, Jason Peters at left guard.
- Tyler Smith at left tackle, Matt Farniok (or Connor McGovern upon his return) at left guard. Jason Peters as the swing tackle.
I’m a huge advocate of playing your best group of five. I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t, either. It’s clear that Peters would be one of the Cowboys’ best five offensive linemen. For Dallas, it seems to be a balancing act between what would be the best combination today and what’s best for their first-round rookie.
After all, Tyler Smith has looked quite decent as the team’s left tackle. He keeps moving people in the running game and has used his strength and anchor to win in the passing game even if technique remains an area of opportunity. Are the Cowboys willing to change the rookie’s position once more by asking him to move back inside?
What’s clear is that left guard is an issue with Farniok starting. He’s allowed 12 pressures (more than the other starting four linemen combined) and is inconsistent in picking up his assignments in the running game.
Personally, I’d prefer playing Peters at left tackle. That’s the spot he’s played in the most by a wide margin. A position change is always a risk and you have to assume even more so for a 40-year-old. I could understand not wanting to mess with Tyler’s development but at the very least, get Peters involved.
The Dallas Cowboys need to get the five best men on the field and it’s tough for me to believe that includes Farniok or McGovern.
If Peters gets inserted into the lineup on Monday, the Cowboys will have to be very careful with communication. Since they’ll face a blitzing unit that puts significant stress on the offensive line, there will be no room for mistakes.
Featured image via Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports