The New York Giants fortified their roster this offseason, adding new talent on both sides of the ball. In recent years, the Giants have struggled to beat their Week 1 matchup, the Dallas Cowboys, losing ten straight matchups when QB Dak Prescott is at the helm.
After years of losing to the Cowboys, three new additions to the Giants’ lineup could finally make the difference and help New York get the win over Dallas in Week 1.
Daniel Jones finally has an elite receiving option
Throughout his NFL career, Giants QB Daniel Jones has had to share the ball with a slew of under-qualified receiving options. New York has consistently thrown practice squad and backup-level receivers into the starting lineup. Jones has never had an elite receiving option to work with; until now.
This offseason, Big Blue pulled off a blockbuster trade, acquiring superstar TE Darren Waller from the Las Vegas Raiders. The two-time 1,000-yard receiver is a dynamic weapon on the offensive end, aligning all across the formation. This summer, Waller has looked virtually unguardable at Giants camp.
In his limited preseason action, Waller put the NFC East on notice, proving to be an elite playmaker for the Giants. He was targeted four times despite playing just eight snaps against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the preseason, totaling three receptions for 30 yards. His impact was immense as Waller’s presence on the field opened up an easy scoring opportunity for fellow TE Daniel Bellinger.
The Giants are hoping that their offense can stack up against a formidable Cowboys defense in Week 1. If Big Blue does earn the big Week 1 win, Waller will undoubtedly play a big role in securing the victory.
A massive upgrade to the Giants’ linebacker corps
Big Blue addressed their massive weakness at the linebacker position this offseason by signing former Indianapolis Colts LB Bobby Okereke in free agency. Okereke totaled a career-high 151 combined tackles in 2022 and should serve as an immediate upgrade for New York’s run defense.
In 2022, New York possessed one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. They surrendered an average of 144.2 rushing yards per game, ranking 27th in the NFL. Inversely, the Cowboys rushed for 135.2 yards per game, ranking ninth in the NFL. Slowing down Dallas’ running game will be key to earning the victory in Week 1.
Additionally, the Giants have another newcomer in the linebacker corps after trading for Isaiah Simmons at the end of the preseason. Simmons may not be the tackle-stacking run-stopper that Okereke is, but he is still a versatile defensive weapon that could make an impact as a blitzer.
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Slowing down Dak Prescott with an upgraded secondary
Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is on a 10-game winning streak when facing the Giants. Big Blue has not beaten Prescott since 2016. In those 10 games, Prescott has totaled 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The odds are not in New York’s favor in Week 1 with Prescott starting for Dallas. If the Giants want to earn the win, they need their newcomers in the secondary to slow down the Dak attack.
Rookie cornerbacks Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III are expected to be the Giants’ two starters in Week 1. Veteran Adoree’ Jackson is expected to move into the slot. With Banks and Hawkins being rookies and Jackson having never played in the slot before, New York’s secondary is filled with inexperience.
Banks is preparing for his regular-season debut with a fearless mindset. The first-round draft pick needs to rise to the occasion and play his part in slowing down a loaded Cowboys receiving corps. Across his 33 coverage snaps this preseason, Banks was targeted four times, surrendering 0 receptions and a 39.6 passer rating allowed, per Pro Football Focus.
Hawkins, a rookie sixth-round pick, has earned his spot with the starters after an extraordinary training camp. “He has surpassed anything I would have imagined at this point,” Giants defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said to the New York Post. Hawkins will need to continue his excellent play into the regular season to help the Giants slow down Prescott and the Cowboys.