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Cowboys @ Giants: New faces on New York offense but plan remains the same for Dallas

This isn’t the same Giants’ offense that the Cowboys saw in week one but that doesn’t change the plan.

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys cruised to a 35-17 victory over the New York Giants in the season opener. Little did we know that it would be the last time Dallas faced Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl winner with a 13-17 record against the Cowboys. For the Cowboys, this second meeting with New York will be much different than their first.

The Giants’ offense is now in the hands of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Though Jones is just 2-4 as a starter, he’s completed a respectable 63% of his passes for 1,466 yards, 10 touchdowns, but he does have seven interceptions. For a quarterback comparison, here are this season’s numbers of Giants QB Daniel Jones and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott:

QB COMP % PASS YDS YD/GM TD INT P-RATE QBR
DAK PRESCOTT 70.6 (5th) 2123 (11th) 303.3 (3rd) 12 (T-6th) 7 102.6 (8th) 81.1 (1st)
DANIEL JONES 62.5 (21st) 1466 (24th) 209.4 (25th) 10 (8th) 7 84.4 (25th) 53.5 (18th)

The problem for Daniel Jones has been turnovers, the seven picks is one thing but the eight fumbles are another. The Cowboys defense has nine takeaways this season, which is 21st in the league. However, the old cliche is that takeaways come in bunches and the Cowboys got four of their takeaways in their last game against the Eagles.

Part of the reason for Daniel Jones picking up where Eli Manning left off is because the offense just hasn’t been very good. New York is 17th in passing offense, averaging just 231 yards per game. The Giants passing offense will have Golden Tate and their receiving-leader Evan Engram on the field at the same time, but will be without Sterling Shepard. They will be facing a Cowboys defense that is ranked ninth in passing defense, allowing just 228 yards per game.

The Giants offense is designed to run the football with Saquon Barkley but New York is just 17th in rushing offense, averaging 102 yards per game on the ground. Barkley missed two games this season and he has 74 rushes for 373 yards with two touchdowns on the year. However, in week one, Barkley punished the Cowboys defense with a 59-yard run and it’s still his longest of the season. Though Saquon Barkley averages just 75 rushing yards per game, his average gain per carry is five yards. The Cowboys run defense is 13th in the league, allowing 96 yards per game, the Giants will look to exploit that in this game.

Line one for defense is bottling up the run and the Cowboys have done a godd job in all but two games this season. The Cowboys have only allowed two 100-yard-rushers this season, Aaron Jones and Saquon Barkley. The Cowboys cannot afford to run hot-and-cold in run defense because that will open up the Giants offense. With the big-play abilities of Golden Tate and Evan Engram, the last thing the Cowboys want is for the Giants to find rhythm on offense. They must eliminate New York’s chances at finding balance and make them one-dimensional.

Looking at the drive stats matchup of Giants offense vs. the Dallas defense, it paints the picture of the difference between the two teams:

DRIVE STATS PLAY/DR AVG YD/DR AVG TOP PT DIFF SCORE% TO% PUNT% TD% FG%
NYG OFF 5.7 30 2:31 -6 25% 21.60% 35.20% 20.50% 4.50%
DAL DEF 6.2 32.6 2:59 3.6 34.30% 12.90% 42.90% 18.60% 15.70%

New York is turning the ball over on drives almost as much as they score points. That carelessness with the football might be because they start drives, on average, in the hole by six points. The Cowboys defensive drive stats leave opportunities to be had but the Giants have not shown to be a good enough team to take advantage of that.

Let’s flip the drive stats and talk about the Cowboys offense because the last time they played the Giants, they racked up nearly 500 yards of offense. The Cowboys currently rank first in total offense, not a great matchup for New York:

DRIVE STATS PLAY/DR AVG YD/DR AVG TOP PT DIFF SCORE% TO% PUNT% TD% FG%
DAL OFF 6.5 42.6 2:52 0.4 46.50% 12.70% 31% 32.40% 14.10%
NYG DEF 5.9 35.5 2:49 -3.9 40.70% 11.60% 36% 26.70% 14%

The Cowboys offensive woes this season has come at their own hands, no defense has really shut Dallas down although the Saints did pretty well. Dak Prescott has shown tremendous growth as a passer, Amari Cooper is still dominating his matchups, and Ezekiel Elliott is their grinder. For the Cowboys offense, the key is to do as they did in week one. The Cowboys need to attack this struggling Giants’ secondary and pile on the points until the opponent submits. If the Cowboys get a lead early, their defense will be able to put pressure on Daniel Jones, which will lead to insurmountable mistakes. Fresh off the bye, the Cowboys need to take charge of this division, starting with a win on the road.