Rob Ryan has some toys to work with this season...
Full confession: I haven't broken down the tape on this game yet, so opinions can change. But from a live-game watching, here's what I think I learned from last night's game.
1. The Cowboys defense is a different animal this year, and it's because we have corners who can cover. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne weren't perfect, both got beat on occasions, but it certainly wasn't the jailbreak we're used to in the secondary. It's clear that with time, these two could become a very good duo in Dallas. Carr is already there, Claiborne is starting the journey. This wasn't the Little Sisters of the Poor they were covering, it was Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. With Eli Manning throwing it. Love them or hate them, that trio of Giants can ball. And the Cowboys secondary basically held them in check.
2. The offensive line is a work in progress, although I actually came out of the game encouraged. The first half was a mess, but in the second half they started to get their act together. I mean that besides the penalties - they did (more on penalties later). The Giants have two strengths, the above mentioned passing game, and a defensive line that can dominate. Yet, the Cowboys were winning that war in the second half. Of course, Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray pulling some magic acts was a factor, but it was encouraging. And is Ryan Cook the answer at center?
3. An speaking of answers, is Jason Hatcher one at the "disruptive" defensive end position? Besides Ware, Hatcher was the main cause of pass pressure on Eli. He got a sack, some pressures (and one really bad penalty that he redeemed). He looked good out there.
4. Penalties. The way the Cowboys offense managed to overcome their own self-inflicted wounds was amazing. But you can't count on that every week. They have to get it cleaned up. The pre-snap penalties were absurd. I'll give Tyron Smith a one-game pass, lining up against JPP in your first game at left tackle would cause anybody to start moving a little early. Overall though, it can't continue if we want to go where we want to go. They could also benefit from this next item...
5. Tempo. On both sides of the ball. The delay of games, the rushed snaps or wasted timeouts on offense could all be overcome by picking up the tempo. That's on Romo and Jason Garrett. They have to get the plays in and get up to the line with a faster tempo. And on defense, the Cowboys were caught confused, not prepared and yelling coverage calls on multiple occasions as the Giants sped up their tempo. Opposing offenses are going to go no-huddle or hurry-up on us a lot if that isn't smoothed out.
6. Give Kevin Ogletree all the credit in the world, he's worked hard in the offseason and seems to finally be maxing out his talent and potential. But caution, the Giants secondary is very suspect, and injuries have made it worse. We need to see the Tree stack together a few good games, then we'll know we have a third receiver. Still, he was phenomenal on Wednesday night.
7. A few other guys put together fine football games. Of course Romo and Murray. But how about Bruce Carter? Very promising start for him. Anthony Spencer didn't pop off the screen with flash, but was rock solid. And did we even miss Jay Ratliff? Josh Brent held up well.
Bonus observation: Put Felix Jones' face on a milk carton, he was MIA.
Bonus observation 2: Sean Lee is still Chuck Norris.