When the Dallas Cowboys kickoff today against the New York Giants they’ll look to continue their recent dominance over their NFC East rival. The Cowboys have won four games in a row over the last two years and this is arguably the best team they've brought into the matchup.
The New York Giants are a much different team with Olivier Vernon and Odell Beckham traded to the Cleveland Browns over the offseason. Though the Giants are in the middle of a retooling, you can never completely count out an NFC East rival in one of these games.
In this week one matchup, however, the path to victory is fairly simple for the Dallas Cowboys.
Hot Start for Kellen Moore and the Offense
The biggest change that happened from the 2018 Dallas Cowboys to the team that they'll take into Sunday's matchup with the Giants is the promotion of Kellen Moore from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. There's been lots of speculation about what Kellen Moore's offense is going to look like given he's a first-time coordinator and play-caller at any level.
It's expected that Moore is going to bring a fresh approach to an offense that was top five in the NFL back in 2016 but had grown stale and predictable over the last couple of years. While all of that is good, it's going to be important for Moore, Dak Prescott, and the offense to get off to a good start in Sunday's game.
For Moore in particular, he'll need to get into a rhythm quickly against the Giants in executing his game plan in-game. The offense needs to have a confidence-building game in week one to hopefully propel toward a great season on that side of the football and it starts with the coordinator creating and calling a good gameplan and the players executing it.
The New York Giants are a team they shouldn't allow to hang around. They have some talent, but not enough to hang with the Dallas Cowboys for four quarters.
Slowing Saquon Barkley
By far, the most dangerous player the New York Giants will trot out in week one is Running Back Saquon Barkley. In 2018, Barkley had more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage and caught 91 passes.
In the Dallas Cowboys first meeting with the Giants, they largely held the rookie running back in check. Barkley did most of his damage in the passing game catching 14 of 16 targets for 80 yards. The Cowboys defense kept him out of the end zone and held him to 28 yards rushing on 11 carries.
In the week 17 matchup, the Cowboys defense allowed Barkley to run for 109 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and catch four passes for 33 yards.
It's going to take a total team effort to corral Saquon Barkley in both the run and pass game. He's an elusive and powerful runner that will be difficult to tackle one-on-one in space. The Cowboys linebacker trio of Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee will have to be at their best flowing to the football and the Cowboys will need to put on a clinic in team tackling.
The Dallas Cowboys defense is talented enough to keep the New York Giants from scoring a lot of points today, but if they aren’t able to contain Saquon Barkley in the run and pass game, it will open things up for Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. The Cowboys can’t allow the Giants to get any momentum or for Eli Manning to get comfortable and that all starts with controlling Saquon Barkley
If they can slow him down a bit, it will keep the passing game in more third and long situations, which strongly favors the Dallas Cowboys secondary and pass rush.
This is a team that rallies to the football very well and has pretty good tackling cornerbacks. If they can prevent Barkley from having any big plays in the run or pass game, it should bode well for their chances to win the game. After allowing more than 200 yards rushing on the ground to the Los Angeles Rams in the division game, the defense should come into this game feeling like they have a lot to prove to themselves and to the NFL.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
This is a game that the Dallas Cowboys should win and win fairly handily. They’re the more talented team on both sides of the football. That said, the Cowboys need to execute on both sides of the ball and these NFC East games are generally closer than they should be.
If the Cowboys offense can get off to a fast start it will be difficult for the Giants to keep up this afternoon, especially if the Cowboys can reasonably limit Saquon Barkley’s impact.
Defensive Inconsistencies Hurting Cowboys Playoff Chances
The Dallas Cowboys have had an up and down season, to say the least. One minute they look like one of the best teams in the NFL, and the next, they look as if they just started playing football a week ago.
A lot of that can be attributed to the inconsistent play of their defense. The numbers say they have one of the best units of it's kind in the league. They rank 14th vs the run, sixth vs the pass, and seventh overall while only allowing 18.9 points per game. The problem is, their performance from game to game hasn't always matched these numbers.
In Week 5 when the Green Bay Packers came to town they had the difficult task of dealing with their biggest nemesis the last half-decade in Aaron Rodgers. His primary target Davante Adams was out because of a toe issue. The Cowboys were only allowing 14 points per game at the time, however, this game would see the scoreboard light up with regularity for the Packers.
Another Aaron would be the star of this game, Running Back Aaron Jones that is. He picked up nine of the Packers 24 first downs by himself on the ground and in the passing game. This helped the Packers control the clock for almost 37 minutes which kept the Cowboys playing a game of catch up.
He finished with 182 all-purpose yards and scored four rushing touchdowns, a record for a Cowboys opponent. What made this particular game a head-scratcher was the fact that the Packers were without their number one receiver and Rodgers failed to throw a single touchdown pass, and the Packers still scored 34 points. Not an ideal outing for the Cowboys defense.
In Week 6 the Cowboys visited Metlife Stadium to take on the New York Jets. At the time, they were 0-4 and arguably the worst team in the NFL. Also, Quarterback Sam Darnold was making his return after being out five weeks due to mononucleosis. All signs pointed to a dominant performance by the Cowboys defense. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.
If Darnold had any effects of his illness he didn't show it. He surgically dissected the Cowboys defense all game long to the tune of 338 yards (career-high) and two touchdowns. The Jets jumped out to a 21-3 lead and never looked back, holding on to win 24-22.
The most mind-blowing thing in this game was the fact that Running Back Le'Veon Bell was held to only 50 yards rushing. Even with the Jets being pretty much one dimensional all game they still managed to move the ball up and down the field. Inexcusable performance by a defense as talented as the Cowboys vs one of the worst offenses in the NFL.
Last Sunday's matchup vs the Minnesota Vikings presented a big challenge for the Cowboys defense. Not only did they have to deal with league-leading rusher Dalvin Cook but also Stefon Diggs who came into the game eighth in receiving yards.
Tight End Kyle Rudolph, who only had two touchdowns all year prior to this game, reached the end zone on back to back drives putting the Vikings up 14-0 entering the second quarter.
The star of this game, however, was the aforementioned Cook. The Cowboys had no answer for him as he gashed them continuously in the screen game as well as on the ground. Cook finished with 183 all-purpose yards (97 rushing, 86 receiving) and a touchdown on 33 touches. Yes, Cook is dynamic and the Vikings offense is formidable but the lack of discipline on assignments and poor tackling wasn't exactly a pleasant sight to see by this defense at home.
This is not to say that the Cowboys haven't had good performances defensively this season. In Week 4 they held the New Orleans Saints, albeit without Drew Brees, to just 12 points in a tough two-point loss. Three weeks ago, they held the Philadelphia Eagles to 283 yards of offense and forced four turnovers in a blowout 37-10 victory. Their second trip to Metlife Stadium was dominant as they registered five sacks and forced three turnovers in a 37-18 beat down of the New York Giants.
The inconsistency of this unit has been frustrating and downright confusing at times. There's too much talent on this defense to be so up and down. If this doesn't change, and quickly, this defense could be the reason the Cowboys find themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs start.
The Brady Report: Cowboys Defense Run Over In Primetime Loss
Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings was a tough one to take for the Dallas Cowboys. They could easily be sitting here today at 7-2 or 6-3, comfortably ahead of the Eagles for first place in the division and fighting for a first round bye in the postseason.
Instead, they are barely over .500 on the season and face de facto must win games each week from here on out. Obviously they let this one slip away, but there's a whole seven games to go before we know the fate of the 2019 Dallas Cowboys.
Let's discuss what went wrong (and right) last week during the Cowboys 28-24 loss.
- What more can we say about Dak Prescott? The Cowboys franchise quarterback was incredible yet again on Sunday night, having arguably his best game to date even in defeat. Prescott was in complete control of the offense, and showcased his mastery by bailing the Cowboys out with some big third down throws. Prescott finished with 397 yards and 3 touchdowns, and continues to force the hand of the Jones family to break out the checkbook this offseason.
- Much like Dak Prescott, I'm running out of adjectives to describe the play of wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper has been a God-send for this Cowboys offense over the last calendar year, looking like one of the best wide outs in the league week in and week out. Cooper went for 147 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches, and should have been given a chance to win the game on the team's final drive.
- Alright, that's enough praise in defeat. Let's talk about the negatives. The defensive tackles were flat-out awful. No matter who it was - Antwaun Woods, Maliek Collins, Christian Covington, Kerry Hyder - anyone who was asked to defend the run at the 1 or 3 technique position had some very low moments against the Vikings. Minnesota bullied the Cowboys upfront on both the sides of the ball, en route to over 150 yards on the ground for this Vikings offense. Dalvin Cook and the Vikings offensive line won this game, and the Cowboys interior defensive line needs to be better if they hope to actually compete against good teams.
- The defensive tackles were bad against the run Sunday night, but let's not let the linebackers off the hook. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are each immensely talented, but neither has been as consistent as a run defender as they need to be going forward. Smith looked flat-out dis-engaged at times during this one, and both linebackers were run over by interior offensive linemen getting to the second level. I've often praised Smith for his versatility and what it does to unleash this defense, but he was plain bad last week.
- Of course, we can't let the coaching staff off the hook for this loss either. Head coach Jason Garrett made several questionable fourth down calls down the stretch of the game, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was determined to pound the ball on first down despite achieving next to no success. On the defensive end, Kris Richard's defensive backs were toasted. Chidobe Awuzie continues to look like a liability opposite Byron Jones, and the safety spot next to Xavier Woods has been a massive hole all season. And, while both Jones and Woods have been mostly good this year, neither was particularly impressive either during this loss. It was a total and complete defensive failure. This team needs to get better fast, and it all starts at the top with the coaching staff.
Loss to Minnesota Could be the Final Nail in Jason Garrett’s Coffin
The 2019 NFL season kind of seemed like a do or die situation for the Dallas Cowboys current Head Coach Jason Garrett. He is currently in the last year of his contract and his future with the Cowboys organization could be hanging in the balance, especially after the devastating loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
If Jason Garrett isn't extended beyond this season, this loss to Minnesota could possibly be where his career with the Dallas Cowboys started to circle the drain. There are still several games left on the Cowboys schedule this season, but this one loss could be the one that ends up knocking them out of the playoffs. If that's true, it's hard to believe JG will be retained.
Jerry Jones, and son Stephen, have both fully supported Jason Garrett since he became the Cowboys full-time head coach back in 2011 after serving as the interim HC for Wade Phillips in 2010. That's nearly a decade of the Jones' sticking by JG through all of the thick and thin over years. That unwavering support however could be coming to an end though.
The proof is in the pudding as they say. As a head coach Jason Garrett is slightly above average according to his all-time win/loss record. His regular-season record as the HC with the Cowboys is 82-62 (.569) and he's 2-3 (.400) in the postseason. Add all of that up and he's 84-65 (.564) in his career… slightly above average.
If I know anything about the Jones', I know getting the Dallas Cowboys back to the promised land as one of the best teams in the NFL is at the top of their list. That's why we've seen them over the years take chances on players other teams wouldn't in order to put together the most competitive roster they possibly could. Now that attention might need to be shifted from the players to the head coach.
Much like the Jones', I've supported and stood by Jason Garrett over the years. That support is dwindling though after each and every loss this season, at least on my part. Personally, I'm ready to find some new blood and move on. What the Jones' end up doing though is completely up in the air.
I want to believe the Dallas Cowboys are ready to move on from JG, but I'm not completely convinced. The fact that his current contract is about to expire after the season suggests they're at least considering parting ways, but that's all it does. I think how the rest of season turns out after the devastating loss to the Vikings will end up determining his fate.
If JG somehow sneaks the Cowboys into the playoffs it could save his job. That unfortunately is no easy thing to do with the teams they have left to play this season. Because of that, the Week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings could end up being the final nail in Jason Garrett's coffin.
What do you think? Is it time to part ways with Jason Garrett?
Dallas Cowboys1 day ago
QB Colin Kaepernick to Hold Workout, Cowboys Showing an Interest
Player News2 weeks ago
Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis To Finally Get The Playing Time He Deserves
Game Notes3 days ago
Inexcusable Playcalling in Final Two Minutes Leads to Cowboys Loss
Star Blog1 week ago
Dez Bryant Readies Return, Should Cowboys Throw Up the “X?”
Star Blog2 weeks ago
If Jamal Adams was Plan A for Cowboys, Should Eric Berry be Plan B?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Looking Ahead to Dallas Cowboys’ 4 Toughest Remaining Games
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Dallas Cowboys Pass Rushing Trio Excellent Against Single Blocker
Game Notes6 days ago
Injury Update: Cowboys Should be at Full Strength Against Vikings