With game one, and week one of the NFL in the books, there was a lot of analysis about the Cowboys one-point loss to the Giants, but we start with some potential positive news for the Cowboys pass rush.
Randy Gregory has a long way to go before he can return to the field for the Cowboys, including dealing with an appeal of an additional suspension, but the news that he's out of rehab is at least a step in the right direction.
The Cowboys moved him from the reserve/did not report list to the reserve/suspended list Monday. He will be eligible to be around the team as he serves the rest of his four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Gregory remains suspended for three more games, and he also faces another 10-game suspension that will eventually be subject to an appeal.
These "By the Numbers" pieces are always great reads, as they often get you to look at games from angles you may not have thought of. To the extent that Sunday's game was a matchup of Eli Manning and Dak Prescott, Eli clearly won this round.
-40.9: The difference in passer rating between the Giants (110.3) and the Cowboys (69.4). We know that passer rating differential (PRD), is one of the stats most closely linked to winning in the NFL. And one of the interesting things about PRD is that it can be plugged into a very simple formula to predict win totals in the NFL. The PRD formula (Projected Wins = PRD*0.16+8) has shown a fairly close correlation with the Cowboys' actual wins over the last few years
The Cowboys haven't won at home since the opener over the Giants last year. That's bad. But next week we're on the road at Washington, which may not have the same run defense that the Giants showed.
This article had some nice things to say about Brandon Carr's switch back to the right side, where he got his first interception since 2013. It also noted Larry Donnell's unpenalized pick play that netted the Giants' game-winning TD on third and goal.
Brandon Carr was almost invisible in the first half of the game. For any other position on the field that would seem like a bad thing, but for a cornerback, it's always a good thing to be invisible. When a cornerback is invisible, that means he is also not giving up big catches down the field. Carr played a very well-rounded game against the Giants. The only criticism that can be said for Carr is on the touchdown catch to Victor Cruz. Cruz ran a quick slant route and caught the ball in the middle of the end zone as Carr trailed behind him on the play. Brandon Carr was so far behind in coverage because Larry Donnell pancaked Byron Jones to screen Carr.
Bill Barnwell provides a detailed breakdown of three quarterbacks making their debuts. Unfortunately, the Eagle's Carson Wentz looked very good, though it was against the Browns' defense. Depending on Tony Romo's health, we may be comparing Dak and Carson starts for years.
Both Wentz and Garoppolo showed surprising poise and steadiness during their victories. Prescott, meanwhile, wasn't able to lead the Cowboys to a win against the Giants, but he delivered a credible performance in bringing Dallas within a point of beating their archrivals.
Barnwell gave Dak Prescott mixed reviews, but said he didn't get much support from the running game or coaching staff.
There were glimpses of the Prescott who blew up in August, but mostly, he was at the helm of a relatively conservative scheme. The new-look Giants defense did an excellent job in run defense, holding Ezekiel Elliott to 51 rushing yards on 20 carries, leaving Prescott in too many third-and-longs. His third-down attempts came with an average of 9 yards to go, and given those restraints, Prescott and his receivers did well to pick up more than half of those conversions when you include penalties.
Always-positive Jason Garrett didn't have much positive to say about Dallas's highest paid defensive lineman.
"I thought he was tough sitting in against the run at times. I thought he affected the quarterback at times. But he needs to be a more productive player for us. We need to get more out of our defensive line as we go forward."
That's actually better than what Pro Football Focus said, which rated Tyrone Crawford it's worst interior defender. PFF also gave La'el Collins it's worst grade at guard. Ouch!
Bob Sturm's always cogent analysis focused on the inability of Dallas to run the ball when it counted, and New York's ability to do so to close out the game. Going into the game, is that what you thought would happen?
If you thought this offense could ground and pound the Giants when it mattered, the team ran for six yards in the fourth quarter. One in which they had the lead. The blueprint of leveling an opponent looks so good on paper, but why don't we ever learn? With very few exceptions, the NFL remains a passing league and with the Cowboys in a game where they pretty much were able to set the terms, they ran the ball only 30 of 75 snaps, and in the second half, that number was 11 runs in 37 snaps. This was a game where they only trailed in the second half a few minutes, but they didn't run the ball in high volume. Why? Because they couldn't. The Giants would not let them.
The Cowboys defense wasn't bad statistically, but the game was another example of why the offense is going to have to win games for Dallas.
Last year, the Cowboys defense was good enough to be good enough only to give up fourth-quarter leads five times. Twelve games were within one score in the fourth quarter last year and the Cowboys lost nine of them.
Sunday was a continuation of the same.
"We have to get to the quarterback better and more consistently throughout the game," Garrett said. "The run defense late in the ballgame when they were able to spread us out a little bit and run the ball, that’s something we have to improve upon."
Jeff Sullivan had a number of biting comments, but his most biting barbs were directed at the coaches.
That was a bad loss. That was a frustrating loss. I don’t want to hear that it was a solid debut for Prescott. They have to let him at least try to make plays, like during the preseason. The play-calls looked a lot like last season with Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel.
Our own Joseph Hatz recounted the key plays, including touchdown drops by two of our most reliable receivers.
After an impressive opening drive the Cowboys were set up with a first and goal from the Giants 10. Reading the blitz, Dak Prescott hit a wide open Beasley over the middle at the three-yard line with a pass that was thrown just a bit high, but was still a pass that NFL receivers are expected to catch, which Beasley dropped. Three plays later Dan Bailey was on for a 23-yard field goal attempt. This set the tone for the day as the Cowboys consistently drove the field in time-consuming fashion but were not able to finish drives with touchdowns, often settling for field goals.
OCC recounts the playoff odds of opening game losers. Washington is in the same position, which makes next week's matchup even more important for both squads. Pittsburgh ran over the Washington defense on Monday night. Can Dallas do the same?
If you're one of the teams that stumbled out of the gates on opening weekend, your 0-1 record means next week's game is already something of a must-win game: Start the season 0-2 and your odds of making the playoffs drop to just 10%; lose the game after that and you can start looking at mock drafts for 2017, because you're going to be sitting at home in January. And nobody likes looking at mock drafts in September.
Before the opener, Tom Ryle asked who was the 53rd player on Dallas's roster. We now have an answer. It's Dax Swanson, who was cut Monday.