After watching the Dallas Cowboys get scraped across the rugged floor by the Carolina Panthers, it’s safe to say the New York Giants won’t be facing off against the usual suspect. The Cowboys have lost Jason “The Giant killer” Witten, Dez Bryant, Dan Bailey, and most important of all, half their offensive line.
This will be a statement game for the Giants in the Cowboys home opener. It’s a chance for head coach Pat Shurmur to put forth his best efforts and prove to the NFC East that his team will not submit lightly. But, as we know, NFC East rivals never go down without a fight, no matter the talent on the roster, or the setting.
Let’s take a look at how the Giants can put down Dallas even further, putting them in catch-up mode:
In Dallas’s week 1 loss to the Panthers, their first points came with 8:41 left in the fourth quarter. The offense looked dull and the defense slow against a weak Panther offense. Now, you might think Cam Newton is a force to reckon with on his own, and he is, but without Greg Olson, top receivers, and a decent offensive line, his talents are contained.
Dallas forced Newton to use his legs to beat them, and he did, but Eli Manning cannot succeed in that manner. As always, they will put as much pressure on Manning as humanly possible, but expect the Giants to bring a different scheme to the table on Sunday night.
Expect to see a lot of shallow crossing routes from Odell Beckham Jr., and we should see more Saquon Barkley out of the backfield. The Cowboys have a decent defensive line, and they will test the Giants’ offensive line, but far less than the Jaguars did in the 20-15 loss. We should see Manning with more time and space, especially when it comes to finding Beckham, who will face off against a far less talented corner in Byron Jones/Chidobe Aquzie.
Of course, Shurmur will attempt to establish the running game early on, giving Barkley the reigns to do what he does best…make defenders miss. The Cowboys have never seen a Giants team with a running back quite like Barkley, and you can be sure as hell they will use that to their advantage.
I would also expect to see Engram have a bounce-back game after dropping two passes in the season opener.
The defensive game-plan:
On defense, James Bettcher will send the blitz early and often. The Giants’ corners can match up with Dallas’ receivers well, which will give free reign to the linebackers to attack Dak Prescott at will. The key to taking down the Cowboys is to put Prescott under pressure.
The more worrisome aspect of the Dallas offense will be Ezekiel Elliott, who didn’t play much of a part against the Panthers until the fourth quarter. Limiting him will be a priority.
Good news! Olivier Vernon is expected to begin practicing again this week, which indicates he could be back for the Dallas game, or at the very most by week 3. If he is able to give it a go, the Giants will be in great shape coming off a game with no serious injuries.