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Game Notes

Cowboys Vs Giants: ITS Staff Notes And Predictions

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The Star News - Cowboys Vs Giants: ITS Staff Notes And Predictions

We made it! Today marks the first game of the season for both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, and in customary fashion, they're facing off in the season opener and Cowboys' home opener at AT&T Stadium.

Kickoff: 3:25 pm CDT
Where: Arlington, TX
Watch: FOX (TV), NFL Game Pass (Online)
See The Injury Report Here

The Cowboys squeaked by in 2015's opener against the Giants, 27-26 as the short-game took center stage. It was a tough fought game that was really no more than a toss-up between the NFC East division rivals, and today's game looks to be similar in many ways.

Rookie QB Dak Prescott, and rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott make their regular season debuts in a game where a lot is riding on their success, more than any other.

In 2015, the loss of Tony Romo was immediately felt by Cowboys Nation, both times it happened. In 2016 so far, Dak Prescott has shown an ability to make everyone forget he's just a rookie, but we can't let it happen. He is a rookie, and he's only played in the preseason thus far. He may have been thrown a particularly daunting curve ball when Romo was injured and he had to play the Seattle Seahawks' starting defense, but that was still only one half of football.

Today, he'll have to hold it together for four quarters, and in the NFL, 60 minutes of football is just enough time for anything to happen. Especially when playing a division rival.

As is our (new) tradition for the 2016 season, several of our writers (Staff Writers, Contributors, and myself) have offered me their predictions for the game and a the reasoning behind them, so let's take a look at what they have to say.

Jess Haynie (Cowboys 34 – Giants 24)

I expect Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to make grand debuts against a poor Giants defense. It will be a shootout and Dallas will have the benefit of ball control and more unpredictable weapons.

Follow Jess on Twitter at @CowboysAddicts

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Brian Martin (Cowboys 27 – Giants 24)

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott may be just rookies, but they'll be leading the charge against the Giants. I predict we'll see a different Cowboys offense playing to the strengths of Prescott. I think it will catch the Giants defense off guard, thus resulting in the Cowboys win.

Follow Brian on Twitter at @bmart0204

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John Williams (Cowboys 27 – Giants 23)

Dallas is going to win this game because of the line of scrimmage play on both sides of the ball. The offensive line is going to set the tone for the run game early and they will control the New York Giants' front throughout the game, thoroughly taking control in the fourth quarter to run out the game.

The Cowboys' defensive line will be just good enough to keep the pressure on Eli Manning and the weak Giants' offensive line. I look for Morris Claiborne to continue his excellent 2016 with a lock-down performance on Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard; whoever Ben McAdoo is foolish enough to put on that side of the field.

Follow John on Twitter at @john9williams

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Justin Grohowski (Cowboys 24 – Giants 30)

The Dallas Cowboys' undefeated opening game streak against the New York Giants comes to an end. Ezekiel Elliott rushes for 120 on the ground, but Dallas falls short in a shootout.

The weak pass rush of the Cowboys is exposed, and Eli Manning has his way. Rookie Sterling Shepard steals the show, and Dallas cannot get enough stops in this one. Dak Prescott shows promise, but suffers some growing pains here, tossing two picks.

Follow Justin on Twitter at @grohowknowhow

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Ian Koplowitz (Cowboys 24 – Giants 35)

Dak Prescott has looked as good as anyone could look this preseason. But he's not Tony Romo. I don't think the offense is going to just come out of the gate and be able to put up 35+ points on this Giants team, and I don't know where this defense is going to come up with a pass rush that can force turnovers and 3-and-outs. I think Zeke Elliott will have a nice first outing, but in the end, this could be an unfortunate home opener without #9.

Follow Ian on Twitter at @BleedingTheStar

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Kevin Brady (Cowboys 24 – Giants 31)

This was a tough one for me. I really want to believe in rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and the explosive Cowboys offense. But their clear deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball and their lack of experience at the quarterback position really scare me.

The Cowboys compete, but lose a close one late when they fail to rush Eli Manning, 31-24.

Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinBrady88

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Sean Martin (Cowboys 28 – Giants 21)

The Dak Prescott hype is real! The Cowboys offensive line is good enough to win this team football games with the rookie as their starter, and I think they will ultimately be the reason Dallas gets to 1-0 against the Giants.

Ezekiel Elliott will keep Prescott ahead of the chains, and Dak will throw two touchdown passes to Dez Bryant. When called upon, the defense will make a critical stop in the fourth quarter, as the Cowboys will defeat the New York Giants once again.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @ShoreSportsNJ

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RJ Ochoa (Cowboys 24 – Giants 33)

Dak Prescott is going to put our minds at ease when it comes to the future of this team, and at its most important position; however, the Giants offense is going to be too much for one of the NFL's weaker defenses.

Follow RJ on Twitter at @RJOchoa

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Bryson Treece (Cowboys 24 – Giants 21)

I think the Cowboys hold off the Giants and win by a field goal, if for no other reason than pure novelty. The Giants have a tremendous task ahead of them this afternoon; can anyone really say how well they'll be able to prepare for Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott?

The Cowboys will come out strong with the advantage of the unknown on their side.

Sure, we've all seen Prescott and Elliott in the preseason, but the regular season is when the full offensive scheme is brought out, with all the distraction of a healthy Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, and the Space Cowboys on the offensive line. Not to mention the change-up between Elliott and Alfred Morris.

The Giants will figure this team out and close in during the second half, but it won't be enough. Whether it's a 30 point game, or an 80 point game, the Giants lose by a single score.

Follow Bryson on Twitter at @BrysonTreece

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There you have it. #TheStar has spoken.

Who do you agree with?

Use the comments below to give your prediction, or single one of us out on Twitter through the links above.

I wish everyone a happy game day and, as always, GO COWBOYS!



This is the General Staff account for Inside The Star, a blog for Dallas Cowboys news, scores, schedule, rumors, and analysis. We are the official home for @CowboysNation on Twitter. Follow us today for new content updates straight from our timeline. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Staff listing.

Game Notes

Snap Judgments: Cowboys’ Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win

John Williams

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Snap Judgments: Cowboys' Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win

The Dallas Cowboys evened their record at 1-1 with their 20-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night. The Cowboys linebackers had a huge impact on the outcome of the game and it wasn't just the guys at the top of the depth chart either. America's Team got contributions from guys at the bottom of the depth chart.

What a difference a year makes.

The Dallas Cowboys worked hard this offseason to fix the linebacker depth that failed them in the 2017 season. When Sean Lee or Anthony Hitchens -- or both -- were sidelined with injuries, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, and the rest of the linebacker group struggled to keep up with opposing offenses. Specifically, in games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers the major depth inadequacy was revealed.

One year later, the Dallas Cowboys have a linebacker corp that allows them to go five deep with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Joe Thomas, and Damien Wilson all making considerable contributions for the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday nights victory.

Here are the final snap counts for the five linebackers that played a defensive snap against the Giants.

  • Jaylon Smith - 57 (84%)
  • Sean Lee - 41 (60)
  • Leighton Vander Esch - 28 (48%)
  • Damien Wilson - 17 (25%)
  • Joe Thomas - 14 (21%)

Jaylon Smith led the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night with 10 tackles (seven solo) and played really well roaming sideline to sideline and making plays. He was tasked with the difficult assignment of containing New York Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley and allowed four catches for 41 yards in his coverage area. Smith was credited with three stops or plays that result in a "loss" for the offense (per Pro Football Focus).  Smith led the team in snaps for the second straight week.

Sean Lee had a better game on Sunday night than he did in week one. PFF credited him with four stops, four tackles and an assist. Lee allowed two catches for 24 yards on two targets to Wayne Gallman and Evan Engram. Lee pulled his hamstring at the end of the game and was held out the rest of the way for precautionary reasons. He'll be an interesting name to watch on this week's injury report. Age catches up with everyone, but hopefully Sean Lee can stave it off for at least another season.

Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch saw a big bump in his snap count from week one (17) to week two (28). The rookie played well too. As many players seemed to struggle with tackling Saquon Barkley, Vander Esch was able to bring down the number two overall pick on several occasions. Vander Esch had seven solo tackles in his second career game.

Damien Wilson was the surprise player of the night. He had three tackles on the night, including one on special teams, a sack, and a forced fumble. Though his time on the field might have been short, his impact was certainly felt. His forced fumble led to a field goal that gave the Dallas Cowboys a 13-0 nothing lead. Wilson was also credited with two stops on the night.

Joe Thomas has been a good player for the team off the bench as well. Though he only had one tackle, it was good enough to be credited with a stop. He's a player that can play both the WILL and MIKE linebacker spots. As the fourth or fifth linebacker on the depth chart, Thomas is a great role player.

Other Snap Count Notes

  • Taco Charlton may not have started, but he played 84% of the team's defensive snaps. That number is up from 73% in week one. Charlton had a sack, a hit, and a hurry as well as three stops on the night.
  • Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns led the wide receiver group in snap percentage from week one to week two. The big difference at wide receiver was seeing Michael Gallup take the third most snaps on offense instead of Deonte Thompson. Thompson still had the bigger impact with four catches for 33 yards on five targets including two for first downs.
  • Geoff Swaim was the far and away leader at tight end in snaps with a 94% snap count. Only the offensive line and Dak Prescott had more snaps on the night than Swaim. He's the TE1 for the team, though he didn't have an impact in the passing game.
  • Rico Gathers only played five snaps, but there was concerted effort to get him the ball as he had two targets in his five snaps. He may not have come away with a catch, but it's a start.
  • Jourdan Lewis continues to be the odd man out on defense. He only played one snap.
  • Dorance Armstrong saw a snap jump from week one to week two going from 28% of the defensive snaps to 40% of the snaps. He had two hurries and an assisted tackle.



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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott’s Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

When the Dallas Cowboys took the field last Sunday against the New York Giants, they did so very differently than last week, starting with a 64-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to connect with WR Tavon Austin in the third play of the game. Although there are still many things this team must continue to work on, they looked like a very improved unit in week 2.

Here are my main takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys' first win of the year. Let me know what yours are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL and let's talk football!

Cowboys' Secondary Capable of Holding Top WR

If there was one player who could've changed the outcome for the New York Giants, it was WR Odell Beckham Jr. Widely recognized as one of the best wideouts in the nation, Beckham was the biggest challenge the cornerbacks, led by Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie, have had in the first two weeks.

None of them followed Beckham all over the field, each stayed on their side of the field and still managed to limit him to four receptions for 51 yards in nine targets. The Giant's offense is not known for being one of the best in the league, but it's the fact that this defense was able to limit exactly the player they needed to. They did their job.

Also, props to the defensive line for keeping the pressure on Eli Manning.

Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Bounce Back Against Giants

Taco Charlton Was Dominant VS Nate Solder

With Randy Gregory ruled out for the game, Taco Charlton had a golden opportunity to stay on the field for more snaps. He took advantage of this, as he finished the night with three tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.

Charlton still has a long way to go in order to prove he was worthy of a first round pick, but we can't deny he hasn't stopped developing. It will be interesting to see how he does now that Gregory is expected to return for week 3.

Dak Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Needed Spark

One of the things I liked the most about the Cowboys' game versus the Giants was how Dak Prescott was utilized. Criticized after a poor performance in Carolina, Prescott came out with a chip on his shoulder.

We've been talking a lot about how Scott Linehan must play Prescott to his strengths and that's precisely what he did by letting Dak run for 45 yards in seven carries. It's completely understandable if the Cowboys don't want to run him as much as the Panthers do with Cam Newton, but the truth is, if #4 hurts defenses with his leg, Ezekiel Elliott won't receiver all of the defense's attention.

Also, shoutout to how they used Tavon Austin. With Elliott, Prescott and Austin being a threat on option plays, this offense could take a step on the right direction.

If Activated, Where Does Rico Gathers Fit Offensively?

Rico Gathers Will Be Used

The Cowboys' Rico Gathers project is moving in the right direction. The 2016 sixth-round pick was active for the first time in his career last Sunday. The first question that popped into our heads was whether or not he'd be actually used in the game. He was.

He even managed to get open in the end zone in a play that could've been TD but Prescott didn't throw a good pass. However, the mere fact that he was able to get open and that the coaches actually put him on the field told us a lot about his future. Cowboys Nation should be excited to see him involved.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott’s Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys vs the New York Giants: Stock Up and Stock Down

John Williams

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The Jaylon Smith We've Been Expecting Is Finally Here

The Dallas Cowboys bounced back in a big way against the New York Giants in week two. Several players bounced back as well after struggling a bit in week one against the Carolina Panthers. Other players continued to struggle or saw a drop in play from week one to week two.

Here are the Dallas Cowboys who saw their stock rise and some who saw their stock fall this week.

Stock Up

Jaylon Smith, Linebacker

Jaylon Smith has been really good to start the season and had an excellent game against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Every day Smith is removed from the devastating knee injury he suffered in his final game at Notre Dame is a day closer to realizing the elite play that many expected of him before the injury.

Pro Football Reference credited the starting middle linebacker with seven solo tackles and three assists. Pro Football Focus had Jaylon Smith with 3 stops -- plays that were a "loss" for the offense -- while becoming a stabilizing force for the linebacker position.

Byron Jones, Cornerback

The fourth year player who has made a successful move from safety to cornerback, Byron Jones has been everything the Dallas Cowboys hoped he'd be when they made him their first round pick back in 2015.

Shame that it took so long to get him to cornerback.

Against a potent New York Giants receiving corp, Jones only allowed one reception on five targets on Sunday night. He also had six solo tackles and three stops, per Pro Football Focus.

The one reception that Pro Football Focus credited to Byron Jones was by Running Back Saquon Barkley and that catch went for zero yards.

So on the night, Byron Jones allowed zero yards into his coverage areas. He's really good at cornerback and is taking to Kris Richard's coaching quite nicely.

Dak Prescott, Quarterback

After much gnashing of teeth after the week one loss to the Carolina Panthers, Dak Prescott rebounded with a strong, confident performance in the Dallas Cowboys week two win over the Giants.

He completed 64% of his passes for 160 yards and ran for 45 yards on seven carries. The passing yardage isn't huge, but on a night in which the defense was absolutely dominant, Dak Prescott made the plays that needed to be made for the Dallas Cowboys to win the game.

He was great in the read-option on Sunday night, perfectly executing it for several really good runs.

The throw to Tavon Austin on the third offensive play from scrimmage was a great throw that set the tone for the Dallas Cowboys the rest of the night. His yards per attempt and passer rating were both improved from week one and he just looked better.

If Dak Prescott can continue to put together performances like this, the Dallas Cowboys will win a lot of games this season.

Connor Williams, Left Guard

After getting pushed around for much of last week's game by Kawann Short, rookie Connor Williams rebounded with a really nice game.

Williams didn't allow a pressure all night and the offensive line was much better as a whole. The unit didn't allow a sack against the New York Giants.

According to Pro Football Focus, Elliott's biggest run of the night came behind Connor Williams at left guard.

Williams is an important piece to the puzzle and if he's playing well, it will provide better pockets for Dak Prescott.

Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver

After seeing only 10 snaps in week one, Tavon Austin was on the field for nearly twice as many and made them count as he ended with two receptions for 79 yards and had one rush for 15 yards.

That's 94 total yards on three touches. The "Tavon Effect" was in full force last night as the team used his speed to their advantage. Even when the ball didn't go his direction he had an effect on the game.

Damien Wilson, Linebacker

Seemingly the odd man out after the Dallas Cowboys selected Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Damien Wilson had an excellent game in his limited playing time.

Wilson played 17 defensive snaps and 22 snaps on special teams and was credited with three solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. He's was excellent on Sunday night in the snaps he was given.

It's unlikely that we'll see a big snap increase for him with the talent ahead of him on the depth chart, but he provided very valuable snaps when given the opportunity.

Stock Down

Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver

Terrance Williams who has been a starter for several years now with the Dallas Cowboys, and even started week one, saw his snap count drop from week one to week two. After seeing 19 snaps against the Carolina Panthers, he was onlyon the field for 10 snaps in week two.

There's been speculation as the Dallas Cowboys have resigned former Wide Receiver Brice Butler that Terrance Williams could be the odd man out of the wide receiver room. That snap count is either an indication of his status on the team or the game plan they had against the New York Giants.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Williams moving forward.

La'el Collins, Right Tackle

A week after allowing four pressures, most along the offensive line, La'el Collins allowed three more pressures on Sunday night against the New York Giants. He was the only offensive lineman to allow multiple pressures and appeared to struggle with the Giants blitz and stunt schemes.

The New York Giants had rushers go unblocked at times on Sunday night.

Dak Prescott wasn't sacked against the Giants, but he had to avoid some pressure on that side to throw the ball away.

Collins has to be better against the pass rush going forward to keep Dak Prescott clean and able to play better.

Dallas Cowboys Tight Ends

The Dallas Cowboys' tight end group of Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers did not have a single catch to their name on Sunday night. There were opportunities that were missed, like the Dak Prescott overthrow to Rico Gathers in the end zone. However, not being able to come up with a single catch against the Giants is a bit surprising.

Speaking frankly, their isn't a receiving threat on the TE depth chart. They need to become a factor at some point to help take pressure of Dak Prescott and give him another option in the passing game. The Dallas Cowboys prefer to run most of their formations with a tight end on the field. They need to be a factor

The Cowboys Nation Twitter account asked David Helman from DallasCowboys.com to look up when the last time the Dallas Cowboys tight ends finished a game without a reception.

Mark Lane from WFAA.com and the Texans Wire found the information.

Mark Lane on Twitter

@HelmanDC @CowboysNation @SullyBaldHead @Marcus_Mosher @CHQ_Jordan @FO_ScottKacsmar When you do, Dave, tell them that Mark Lane found it at 1:15 a.m. Central Time. It was Dec. 1, 2016 at the #Vikings. https://t.co/XS3FVrWhT8

It's unbelievable that there was a game played in which Jason Witten was around for that he didn't have a reception, and yet, there it is.

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Were there any players that moved the needle in either direction for you?

Let us know in the comment section. 

 



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