clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cowboys news: People are noticing the Cowboys defense, in a good way

And Dan Bailey is going to the Vikings

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Morning After: Cowboys unleash full defensive attack on Giants – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
The Sturminator breaks down the Cowboys defense-fueled victory over the Giants, noting that scheme, rather than winning one-on-one battles, generated most of the team's six sacks.

Of the six sacks, very few of them were simply a man beating a man. Rather, like Carolina last week, if you can cause confusion about who is coming from where, you can get a free rusher a few yards away from a blocker who has nobody to block. It is where the chess match of scheme is so very important and where games are won and lost on Sundays.

Have the Cowboys changed their view of their defense? Or was this just a perfect opponent upon which to unleash the hounds, given that the Giants haven’t scored 30 points in a game since the final week of 2015? In fact, one of the more staggering numbers from New York would be that the Giants have scored just 36 points against Dallas in the last 4 meetings. You may recall that Eli Manning and his offense scored 41 on the Cowboys in 2010 and 37 in 2011 in this same stadium. Now, in four consecutive meetings, the old QB has put up performances of 10, 3, 10, and 13. Since 10 of last night’s 13 points were in full-fledged garbage time, the Giants have to be losing their minds today.

Cowboys dominate in 20-13 win over the Giants – Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
An overview of the Cowboys' first victory of the 2018 season.

The​ Cowboys started​ the​ night​ with big​ plays​ in​ the​ passing game, got​ constant​ pressure​​ on Giants quarterback Eli Manning and finally closed their Sunday night victory with a time-consuming drive.

Dallas’ 20-13 victory over the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium kept them from the dreaded 0-2 mark that often spells doom and gloom in the NFL. It gives them hope that things will be okay heading into next Sunday’s game at Seattle

The Cowboys are 1-1 thanks to Dak Prescott dominating the offense with zone reads and leading the Dallas offense to a nearly nine-minute, game-clinching, fourth-quarter drive. He started the night with a 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin, who was a non-factor in the season-opening loss at Carolina. Prescott, using the zone read to his advantage, ran with physicality as he rushed for a career-high 45 yards.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys answer 'challenge' in win over N.Y. Giants - Jim Trotter,
The Cowboys' defensive front seven steamrolled the revamped Giants' offensive line.

With 58 seconds to go in the first half Sunday night in AT&T Stadium, Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence bullied past the Giants offensive line, sacked quarterback Eli Manning and hurriedly stumbled to his feet only to find Giants left tackle Nate Solder standing in his personal space. Lawrence instinctively put his hands in Solder's chest and shoved the $62 million tackle out of the way so he could stretch his arms to the side and bathe in the roar of the near-capacity crowd.

"I make a sack, this is my zone," Lawrence said afterward, outlining his space with his hands. "Don't walk in my zone. That's disrespectful."

It was no more disrespectful than what the Cowboys (1-1) did to the Giants (0-2) much of the evening, shoving them around with little significant resistance in a 20-13 victory that was not as close as the score might indicate.

NFL Team Grades for Week 2 - Kristopher Knox, BleacherReport
Some grades for both the week and the season-to-date for the Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys have officially made the transition to being a defensive team. They held the Panthers to just 16 points in Week 1, and the defense was even more dominant against the New York Giants.

Dallas sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning six times and held the Giants to just 35 yards rushing and 255 yards of total offense.

The Cowboys offense, though, remains a work in progress. The ground game was strong—Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott combined for 123 yards—but the passing attack was once again a disappointment.

The Winners and Losers From NFL Week 2 - Rodger Sherman, The Ringer
Some people are unhappy the Cowboys and Giants always play on Sunday Night Football. Haters gonna hate.

And so, the Giants and Cowboys got to play on Sunday Night Football again Week 2, even though the Patriots and Jaguars were also playing in a rematch of the 2017 AFC championship game and the Packers were playing the Vikings. And, well, it sucked. The Giants punted on every one of their first-half possessions, and the Cowboys went up 20-3 before a Giants touchdown in garbage time. A national audience got to see firsthand how the Giants are wasting Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley, and we all got to sleep a little bit earlier instead of spending the last hours of a dying weekend freaking out over a spectacular finish between good teams.

Somewhere, there are people who preferred this slog to better games because of the names of the teams involved. I hope they enjoyed it, and I curse them for next year’s inevitable Week 2 prime-time Giants-Cowboys snoozer.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott help Cowboys find identity on offense - Mike Jones, USAToday
More recapping of the Cowboys' victory over the Giants.

The Cowboys’ performance wasn’t at all perfect. The unit still struggled on third downs — converting on only three of 10 attempts. And Dallas fell shy of the 300-yard mark and ventured into the red zone only three times all game (managing one touchdown on those trips). The Cowboys didn’t even win the time of possession battle.

But a more diverse game plan, better execution on first downs, persistence in the rushing department and a handful of big plays (along with the support of a defense that registered six sacks and a fumble recovery) translated into the first win of the season for the Cowboys.

Sunday’s performance also showed the blueprint for further success for the Garrett’s unit.

Scout’s Notebook: Gains For The Offense - Bryan Broaddus,
The Broad one gives us his scout's eye perspective on the Cowboys' first victory of the 2018 season.

Nifty ball handling by Dak Prescott to fool Connor Barwin into coming inside, allowing him the space to get around the corner on the first read-option of the game. Barwin believed that Ezekiel Elliott had the ball and was attacking him in a hurry. Prescott picked up a nice block from Geoff Swaim down the field on Landon Collins to allow him extra yardage.

· Powerful move by Dorance Armstrong to drive Rhett Ellison back into Saquon Barkley to make him have to take the ball wide instead of up inside. Once Barkley was strung out, it was Chidobe Awuzie and Kavon Frazier there to clean up the play. Armstrong was known more as a pass rusher in college, but he is starting to show those traits of a good run defender, as well.

Vikings cut Daniel Carlson, will sign Dan Bailey – Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk
Dan Bailey's release by the Dallas Cowboys shocked many, It was equally surprising he hadn't signed with another team through the season's first two weeks. Well, Bailey's patience in turning down multiple offers has apparently paid off as he's set to go to a contending team, as was his goal. Alper reports he'll be signing the Minnesota Vikings of the NFC North division. While that's better than an NFC East team, the prospect of Bailey kicking a game-winner against the Cowboys in the playoffs haunts me.

They’ve reached the conclusion that Carlson doesn’t have a future with the team. NFL Media reports that Carlson, a fifth-round pick this year, has been placed on waivers.

They also report that his replacement will be former Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey. Word on Sunday was that Bailey had turned down multiple offers since being released on cutdown day and was waiting for the “right team” before returning to active duty.

Cowboys’ Identity Has Switched to Defense - Nick Eatman,
The Mothership's writer duly notes the team's transformation into a strong defensive club.

After last week’s game, I thought it was more of a trend.

This week, I think it’s more of a fact.

The Cowboys are a defensive football team. Defense first. That’s their identity now and you know what, that’s ok.

There’s nothing wrong with this evolution of the Dallas Cowboys that has gone from a ground-and-pound, push-you-around offensive team that just knew how to grind out tough yards when it had to and rack up points to get the win.

Dallas Cowboys fans memes trash New York Giants, Eli Manning - Peter Dawson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
All the memes for Cowboys' fans to enjoy.

The Dallas offense, particularly Dak Prescott and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, received criticism from fans after the team’s 16-8 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 1. But Linehan opened things up against the Giants, which allowed Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott to flourish.

However, Giants starting quarterback Eli Manning was the target of some merciless criticism all over the country.

Zeke on Cowboys offense: We're going to be physical - Todd Archer, ESPN
The team is emphasizing starting fast and staying physical on offense.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the 38 air yards the Prescott pass traveled were the second most on a touchdown in his career.

Austin did not have a catch against the Panthers and entered the game with just two career receptions on passes thrown 30-plus yards. The last came in 2015.

“We wanted to be the aggressors,” Prescott said. “We wanted to set the tone in the running game and the passing game and make them try to defend what we’re doing.”

While the first scoring drive was the most impressive highlight of the Cowboys’ 20-13 win against the Giants, the Cowboys’ final scoring drive was more indicative of the type of style they want to play.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys