The Dallas Cowboys take on the New York Giants on Sunday at AT&T Stadium. Both teams are entering the matchups down 0-1 after dismal performances from each team’s offense in week one. Today, we will take a look at the Giants offense from week one and what they were able to do against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If you’re a fan of the NFL, it is known that the Giants offensive line is not very good, and that’s putting it nicely. When your offensive line struggles, the quarterback doesn’t have time to allow routes downfield to develop. The Giants know this, and game-planned for the offensive line struggles well using the rub route a lot in their offensive gameplan.
Play 1 - New York’s rub routes
This is the definition of an “illegal rub route” but there was no flag thrown and a huge gain for the New York offense. Head-coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula drew up multiple plays in this game knowing Beckham was going to battle to get constant separation from All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Shepard does an excellent job of running himself and his man right into Jalen Ramsey’s path which allows Beckham to run for 10-15 yards with no one covering him. If Eli delivers a better ball here, Odell could run for a while.
Play 2 - New York’s rub routes with a more subtle twist
As you see above, Sterling Shepard starts off his route with a quick little jab to Jalen Ramsey’s shoulders. This subtle push knocks Ramsey off time by a half-a-second which allows Odell Beckham Jr to gain a step on Ramsey up the field. This is also a very veteran savvy move from Odell to run Ramsey into Myles Jack right before he makes his break at the top of his route. These to little bumps from Shepard and Jack allow Beckham to gain a step or two on Ramsey which gives Eli Manning a bigger window to throw to.
Stopping Saquon Barkley
Whenever a team drafts a skill-player with the second-overall pick in the NFL Draft, teams are going to give that player a ton of attention. Barkley had a nice start to his NFL career on Sunday against the Jaguars defense that finished 21st in the NFL in 2017. Barkley finished the game with 18 carries, for 108 yards, and a touchdown. He did gain 68 of those yards on one carry , so when looking at the whole sample size, Barkley had 40 yards on 17 carries when you take out the one huge run. But that’s the player Barkley is. He may not hit you for five-to-eight yard runs all game behind that line, but if you fall asleep on any given play, he can take you to the house. Barkey was also involved in the passing game catching two passes for 22 yards. If the Cowboys want to stop Barkley, they are going to need to tackle a whole lot better than they did last Sunday against the Panthers.
Play 1 - Barkley is explosive
There is not much to analyze above, but there is one concept to touch on and that is the Dallas defense must stay at home and contain their lanes, or Barkley can make you pay. They have to be disciplined in run defense, and they have to tackle well. If not, they will be in for a long day.
Play 2 - It takes more than one to get Barkley down
This should have been a gain of one, at most for Barkley. But Telvin Smith is unable to corral him and he picks up 10 here. The rest of the Jax defense is slow to rally to the ball, including Myles Jack. If the Cowboys want to control the Giants rushing attack, Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Damien Wilson will need to be much better tackling and rallying to the football.
Giants offensive line is still bad
The Giants spent resources this offseason rebuilding their offensive line. It hasn’t worked so far. Nate Solder looked below-average at best on Sunday, Will Hernandez too, right guard Patrick Omameh was not good, and Ereck Flowers continues to be Ereck Flowers.
Play 1 - DeMarcus Lawrence can’t believe his eyes
The first play (above) for the Giants offense is a tripping penalty called on Flowers. Calais Campbell completely destroys Flowers with an inside swim move and Flowers has no other choice but to stick his foot out and save Eli Manning’s life. Both of the Giants starting tackles had their struggles against a very good Jacksonville defense, and they’ll have their hands full again on Sunday with the Cowboys defensive ends.
Play 2 - The Giants have their own rookie guard issue
When it wasn’t the tackles, the Giants interior offensive line struggled as well. Will Hernandez had a “welcome to the NFL” game on Sunday dealing with Malik Jackson, Calais Campbell, and Marcell Dareus. Hernandez struggled mightily with speed on Sunday and that shows in the clip above. The Cowboys interior defensive lineman should have a really nice game in Sunday working against the rookie Hernandez, and veteran Patrick Omameh.
Play 3 - DeMarcus Lawrence is so ready for Sunday
This isn’t even a great pass rush rep from Lerentee McCray but he’s still able to beat Ereck Flowers with an inside move and bring down Eli Manning for the sack. Since Flowers struggles so much with speed, he has to take wide sets with his outside foot which leaves his inside shoulder vulnerable when pass rushers are able to use a quick inside move. One of DeMarcus Lawrence’s best pass rush moves is an inside swim move, look for him to use that a ton on Sunday night.
Play 4 - Did we mention the Giants have a rookie guard issue?
Another rep of rookie Will Hernandez struggling with inside speed. Jacksonville lined Calais Campbell up at defensive tackle a lot to give him one-on-one matchups with Hernandez. This could be something the Cowboys do with DeMarcus Lawrence in nickel packages. The Jaguars defensive line completely dominated the Giants offensive line, even though they only had two sacks in the game, they completely dominated the game.
Applying pressure to Eli Manning, limits Odell Beckham Jr.
In the section above we highlighted the offensive line woes for the Giants. Getting consistent pressure in Eli Manning’s face is the key to victory for the Cowboys defense. Eli often gets “happy feet” after getting knocked around and put on his back. That showed in the second half against the Jaguars last weekend. Eli’s first half was actually pretty solid. He finished the first half 11 for 12, 98 yards, and a passer rating of 100.7. He finished the game going 23 for 37, for 224 yards, an interception, and a passer rating of 67.8. Once the Jaguars were able to make Manning feel uncomfortable, it completely changed Manning’s level of play. It also helped limit Odell Beckham Jr.
Play 1 - Eli being Eli
Odell Beckham Jr could have had over 200 yards and two or three touchdowns on Sunday if his quarterback delivered better balls to him. Beckham created separation all day due to his route-running ability, the offensive game plan, and the way the defense has to play him. It is almost impossible to press Odell, due to his ability to win of the line of scrimmage with his quick release and elite footwork. There’s really no good way to limit Odell Beckham, but you can get to Eli which ultimately takes Odell’s playmaking ability out of the game. On the above play, there wasn’t even that much pressure on Eli, and he still missed an open Beckham for a touchdown.
Play 2 - Stopping Beckham means pressuring Eli
The Jaguars send an all-out blitz, but Eli doesn’t adjust his protection to pick up the overloaded right side. He closes his eyes and heaves this into the endzone three yards too deep for Beckham Jr, who had Jalen Ramsey beat. This is an easy six points for the Giants if the protection is adjusted and the blitzing safety gets picked up. Again, there’s no way to take Odell Beckham out of the game due to how good he is, but you get Eli Manning with happy feet and you can bet his level of play goes down, which effects how much damage OBJ can do to your defense.
Play 3 - You can’t sleep on Sterling Shepard
Even at age 37, if you give Eli Manning time, he’ll find the open man and move his offense down the field. With Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram as his go to weapons, Manning does a nice job of getting the ball out quickly to the open man, and if he has times, those guys will get open. Shepard is mostly used out of the slot and does a lot of his damage in the middle of the field. Engram also seems to do most of his damage in the middle of the field and up the seam. Engram is used as big slot, so he will be a tough guy to defend on Sunday night, especially with all the attention the Cowboys defense will be giving to Beckham and Barkley. But Shepard can be a dangerous factor and the Cowboys need to have a plan for him.
The Cowboys defense was really good on Sunday against the Panthers, but they’ll need to be even better on Sunday night against the division rival New York Giants. Neither team can afford to drop to 0-2 this early in the season, so I expect the Giants to be very aggressive on offense. If the Cowboys want to pull this one out, the defensive line and secondary will have to come to play.