Here is the breakdown of our week one foe, the New York Giants. Due to a work related situation; I will be forced to forgo the Weekly BEast Report this week. It will return early next week,albeit in a different format. In the mean time:
Are you ready for some football?
At last the time has arrived for Cowboys fans to turn their full attention to the first regular season adversary, the New York Giants. As much as we may try to block out events from our recent memory, we are forced to recall that the Giants are undefeated in the new stadium, and nothing would get the season off to a sweeter start than to send the G-men back to the Big Apple with a division loss to start the season. Without further ado; here is the look at this week's upcoming foe.
Over the course of his tenure in New York, Eli Manning has fluctuated between hot and cold. As I have detailed over the course of the preseason, he is currently in the midst of a cold streak that extends back to the second half of the 2012 season. Now, just in time for his trip to Dallas, Manning is showing some signs of a warming trend. After a dismal showing in the dress rehearsal game against the Jets, the Giants starters played the first three series of their final warm up game against the New England Patriots. On Thursday night, Eli was 6 of 9 passing for 74 yards and a touchdown. Granted, no one will mistake the Pats for being a defensive oriented team, but a solid performance could be the spark that rekindles Manning.
In his arsenal, Manning has one of the better pass catching duos in the league. After an offseason of issues and a preseason groin issue, Hakeem Nicks is finally ready to play some football. He and Manning found something of a rhythm against New England and they connected on Manning's touchdown pass. This is a contract year for Nicks, so he will be motivated to turn in a season that will earn him elite receiver money. Victor Cruz, Eli's other primary weapon, is expected to return to action from a bruised heel. Prior to suffering his injury, Cruz and Manning had seemingly picked up where they left off last season. Regardless, Dallas can also expect a significant dose of second year receiver Rueben Randle, whose star has been on the rise all preseason. Tom Coughlin and company will give Randle every opportunity to show the team he is ready to assume Nicks' role in the offense and allow the team to move on from the veteran wide out.
During the offseason, the Giants allowed the final member of their "Earth, Wind, and Fire" backfield to depart. Replacing Ahmad Bradshaw in the New York backfield will be another second year guy, David Wilson. A first round selection in 2012, Wilson had fumbling issues last season and earned his way into Coughlin's doghouse, but later rebounded. Now, with fellow running back Andre Brown sidelined with a second fracture to his leg, Wilson will have a chance to establish himself as the all purpose back. To pave the way for him, the Giants have fullback Henry Hynoski, who was recently activated from the PUP list. Although he has been practicing with the team, as of this writing, it is not certain if Hynoski will be playing on Sunday night.
As I had detailed in my preseason look at the Giants, the team entered the preseason with the offensive line in decent shape. What a difference a few weeks makes; thanks to injuries to center David Baas and right tackle David Diehl, the line is now in disarray. Offensive line coach Ray Flaherty is trying to shuffle pieces to get the best possible combination. For now, it looks like left guard Kevin Boothe will move inside to play center while his place is taken by inserting "project" lineman James Brewer into the left guard slot. This year's first round selection, Justin Pugh, will step in to the right tackle position.
For Perry Fewell's defense, everything revolves around the defensive line. Still up for speculation is Jason Pierre-Paul's pending return. He has been recalled from the PUP list and has been working with the team, but his playing time Sunday night will be determined by how much work he is able to get in this week, and how his back responds to the action. There is also some question about JPP possibly not making the trip to Texas. With players like Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, and Mathis Kiwanuka available to him; if I were Tom Coughlin, I would err on the side of caution. In addition to his returning corps of linemen, he also has newly acquired veteran Cullen Jenkins and an impressive rookie from Aggieland named Demontre Moore to take up the slack.
The biggest weakness in the Giants defense is the linebackers. Former Dallas Cowboy Dan Connor has assumed the role of directing traffic in the middle of Fewell's defense, but thanks to a burner that Connor suffered against New England, Mark Herzlich could start this week. The other linebackers are Jacquain Williams, Spencer Paysinger, and Keith Rivers. As ESPN Giants reporter Dan Graziano states frequently, linebacker is a position that the G-men care very little about. It is; however, a position that Dallas should be able to exploit frequently.
In the secondary, New York features a pair of promising young corners, Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley, to go along with the returning Terrell Thomas. Hosley is returning from an ankle issue and missed the Patriots match up, while Thomas is attempting to return from losing two consecutive seasons to ACL tears in the same knee. At safety the Giants have Antrelle Rolle, who is a playmaker who also has a tendency to show lapses in coverage at time. With the season ending injury to projected starter Stevie Brown, the G-men will turn to Ryan Mundy to complete the secondary.
On both sides of the ball, the New York Giants have openings that Dallas can take advantage of. If the offensive line can give pass protection efforts similar to what they did against both the Cardinals and Bengals, Tony Romo and his stable of horses can take advantage of the back side of New York's defense. On the other hand, the Giants strength is the pass rush; if that is effective, Romo could be in for a long night. Switching sides, The Dallas from four should be able to generate pressure on Eli Manning, especially if Anthony Spencer is able to make his return. That in turn should pay off on the back end as the linebackers and defensive backs focus on playing the ball. The biggest concern should be the potential for Nicks and Cruz to make the big play. Even though the Dallas-2 is designed to prevent this, both men are explosive enough to take advantage of any lapse in coverage. All being said, I give Dallas a slight edge due to a more complete defense. Otherwise the teams are a fairly equal match; Sunday night should provide an interesting return to football.