The Dallas Cowboys have had about as rocky a start to a season as a team could have. They currently sit at 1-3, which could’ve easily been 0-4 if not for a miraculous onside kick recovery in their only win vs the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2.
On Sunday, the Cowboys host the winless New York Giants. The Giants offense is ranked dead last in the league while the Cowboys defense is ranked 30th. On the flip side, the Giants defense is ranked fifth and the Cowboys offense is the top unit of it’s kind in the league. Something has to give in this matchup of NFC East rivals. Here are three key players to watch for the Cowboys.
When Everson Griffen was signed back in August the thought was the Cowboys would be getting the player who had eight sacks in 2019 and made the Pro Bowl. That hasn’t exactly happened so far in 2020. In four games, Griffen has only recorded one sack and just two quarterback hits.
Some of that could be attributed to playing in a 2-point stance to begin the season as opposed to his traditional 3-point stance, but Griffen hasn’t looked like the same player from a year ago. The combo of power and excellent technique have been nonexistent and the Cowboys desperately need him to step up with their pass rush only generating eight sacks in the first four games.
It’s been a long time coming for Donovan Wilson. In 2019, he burst on to the scene by leading the entire preseason with three interceptions, showing the ball-hawking skills he displayed playing safety and nickel corner at Texas A&M. Unfortunately, Wilson suffered an ankle injury and only logged 16 defensive snaps in his rookie season.
However, last week Wilson got some significant playing time due to the struggles of Darian Thompson and played very well registering 10 tackles and his first NFL sack. As a result, Wilson will make his first NFL start vs the Giants and the Cowboys are hopeful that his ball skills can help create some turnovers seeing as their secondary only has one interception on the season.
It’s been a struggle so far for the two-time rushing champion this season. Ezekiel Elliott started pretty strong averaging 92.5 yards rushing and over 120 yards all-purpose per game in the first two weeks. However, he’s managed just 88 yards in the last two games which included a 34-yard performance against the Seattle Seahawks, the third-worst of his career. Also, he’s fumbled the ball three times already this season which matches his total for all of 2019.
In his defense, a lot of Elliott’s lack of production is due to the Cowboys consistently falling behind by several scores which force them to pass in abundance and essentially eliminating his effectiveness. The Cowboys need to establish Elliott early and often against the Giants and finally get this rushing attack back on track and let Dak Prescott play-action pass off of that, something he excels at doing.
If the Cowboys want to salvage this season Sunday’s matchup with the Giants is a good place to start and these three players performing at a high level will hopefully help turn things around.