The Dallas Cowboys (3-1) are riding the high’s of a 3-game win streak. Their latest victory at the hands of the previously unbeaten Carolina Panthers.
The team looked dominant on both sides of the ball, particularly in the second half. Dak Prescott had another mutli-touchdown game, Trevon Diggs had 2 interceptions, Randy Gregory had 2 sacks and the team ran for 245 rushing yards combined. A statement win.
Now the team sets their sites on their next divisional opponent against the New York Giants (1-3).
The Giants and quarterback Daniel Jones are seeing an improvement in their offensive play, but are still lagging in areas around the offensive line, and a decline in their defensive performance from last season.
Looking at how the Giants have played this season, they could just as easily be 3-1 as opposed to 1-3 but haven’t been able to finish games they had the lead in, until their 1st win on Sunday.
There’s still plenty of confidence on the Cowboys side of the ball, and for good reason. By way of an awesome season from Dak Prescott, who’s had the Giants number in recent history.
The #DallasCowboys have won 7 straight games against the New York Giants when Dak Prescott starts at QB
— Tom Downey (@WhatGoingDowney) October 7, 2021
However, as any fan of any NFC East team will tell you, these things don’t matter in these match ups. They’re all legit rivalry games and are taken as seriously as any other team. Often bordering on personal.
The Giants have been in all of their last 3 contests, but show significant areas of concern. Areas that the Dallas Cowboys have the man power to overwhelm.
Blitz and Contain Daniel Jones
This might seem like a simple concept. Even more so it’s a measurable fact that Daniel Jones is a different passer when he’s being rushed, as opposed to a clean pocket.
Ny Giants Daniel Jones by the numbers. pic.twitter.com/pgfhDQqpgi
— Big Game James (@YaitesJames) October 7, 2021
His yardage, accuracy and turnover probability are night and day when he’s facing pressure as opposed to a comfortable pocket. However, it’s not just enough to keep Jones uncomfortable as a thrower, the team needs to be weary of his scrambling ability as well.
The Giants offensive line hasn’t played well for the majority of the season, but it’s even more alarming when you realize that Daniel Jones is the team’s leading rusher. His ability to escape pressure has kept many of their plays alive, but it’s when he keeps it himself that the play can turn dangerous. His running ability is well documented.
Daniel Jones wanted to WIN against the Falcons…. He ran headfirst into a defensive tackle (I saw it live in front of me and it was a hell of a collision), and he kept churning forward for the 2-PT conversion.
Jones can't win these games alone, they need more from others. pic.twitter.com/4N6lmb7uP9
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) September 28, 2021
Andrew Thomas has been playing noticeably better in his second season, but is dealing with a foot injury. Aside from him, there’s been disappointing performances from the rest of their starting line. Will Hernandez, Billy Price, Ben Bredson and Nate Solder all rank near the bottom of their respective positions according to Pro Football Focus. All four of them will be tested by what’s been a dominant Dallas Cowboys defensive line.
Daniel Jones has been a threat with his legs since he entered the league. This season, with his throwing ability much improved, he must be rushed from the pocket, and followed once he does. Otherwise, Daniel Jones could be in for a big game.
All Eyes on Saquon
Despite Saquon Barkley not running over 100 yards on the season, he’s still very much a key part to their offense. Both in the running and passing game.
So far this season, Barkley accounts for over 30% of their offensive plays in both facets of the offense. Similar to what Christian McCaffery is doing in Carolina. He also accounts for 19.9% of the Giants offensive yards.
Barkley hasn’t eclipsed 60 yards rushing this season, but also only has 13 carries per game to his name in 2021. The New York offense isn’t entirely focused on Saquon as in years past, but the Giants best bet to win this game is to keep the Dallas offense off the field. Averaging 3.6 yards per carry isn’t world-beating but enough to continue drives if the pace is maintained.
Defend the Deep Pass
This might come as a bit of a surprise for Dallas Cowboys fans, but the defense does have one major flaw. A flaw that every team so far has taken advantage of more than once: the deep ball.
The Cowboys have given up 19 passes of 20+ yards (T-2nd) and 4 plays of 40+ yards (T-3rd) on the season. Coincidentally, the Giants have completed 14 passes of 20+ yards (T-10th) and 3 passes of 40+ yards (T-5th).
John Ross pulled this one in for his first TD of the year 😤
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 3, 2021
New York has three receivers who can take the top off the secondary in Kadarius Toney, John Ross and Darius Slayton (likely out), and all of them have the ability to separate down the field for a big play.
Trevon Diggs will likely shadow WR1 Kenny Golladay for the majority of the game. This makes covering the other receivers key. Especially with the threat of a deep pass as a real possibility.
Run the Ball
Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are on a historic run. At the pace they’re on, they’ll be only the eighth running duo to ever each have over 1,000 rushing yards on the season.
Each game is different, and each game one or the other player is going to have more carries and be a bigger factor. Despite this, both are averaging well over 5 yards per carry, and just got done running for almost 250 yards against the (then) top running defense in the league. Now, they get to face a defense that’s given up 123 rushing yards per game to opposing teams.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott rips off 47-yard carry. Longest rush since rookie year. Against a D that arrived allowing 45 rushing yards per game.pic.twitter.com/QrNH5Ksz4e
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) October 3, 2021
The Cowboys game plan alters from week to week, and this game looks like the making of another Philadelphia-type game. Each will get 10+ carries each and 150 rush yards together. This is a simple concept, but one that will continue to be used until a team can stop them.
Take Shots Down the Field
Remember when I mentioned earlier about defending the pass? The offense needs to be taking deep shots of their own. Dak Prescott is already one of the most accurate passers in the league (75.2%) and has thrown more career touchdown passes (17) against New York than any other team.
Additionally, a couple of Giants corners seemingly are asking for it.
It was in a positive manner, but interesting to hear Giants corners James Bradberry and Adoree Jackson use "dink and dunk" when talking about the Cowboys.
— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) October 7, 2021
The offense has been throwing primarily 7-15 yard passes, controlling the clock and the line of scrimmage via the run game. It has made them one of the best, all-around offenses in the game. And the Giants know this.
Deep passes will be available in this game. The Dallas Cowboys will be complacent to control the flow of the game, as they have all year, but with more defenses figuring out what you like to do, it opens up the possibility for other options. Options like this.
This Dak Prescott touchdown throw to Amari Cooper against the Carolina Panthers had a completion probability of 16.8% according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
It was Dak Prescott’s most improbable completion since 2019.
(via Zebra Technologies) pic.twitter.com/OBGk75Gk8F
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) October 6, 2021