clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

“This ain’t the Jets”: What the Giants are saying about the Cowboys ahead of Sunday

Behind enemy lines: What the Giants are saying ahead of the game against the Cowboys.

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

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

As we head into the Dallas Cowboys matchup versus the New York Giants, let’s take a look at what those on the other side are thinking.

Has the Giants offense REALLY turned a corner or will it just be more of the same?

One moderately good game on offense after an 0-3 start, and suddenly it’s all rainbows and unicorns in New York.

Can Jason Garrett keep the Giants’ offense rolling and his critics quiet? - Jardan Raanan, ESPN
The Giants offense ranked No. 31 in yards and points last year, and the offense didn’t look much different in the early part of the season.

It put Garrett, the former Dallas Cowboys head coach, in a precarious position. He seemed closer to being unemployed than emerging this offseason as candidate for a second chance as a head coach.

“Stale” is how an NFL executive described Garrett’s scheme recently to ESPN. Just another version of the outdated 1990s Dallas offense under Norv Turner, without an effective modern twist, the executive said.

But then ... a miracle happened?

Except things seemed different Sunday in a 27-21 overtime win against the New Orleans Saints. More run-pass options (RPOs), motion, an increased use of stacked wide receivers and generally more aggression.

Now it’s a matter of whether Sunday’s sudden improvement from Garrett was a mirage prompted by an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit or a sign this offense is about to take off. It isn’t encouraging that Garrett didn’t see much difference in what the offense did the first three weeks compared to Sunday’s win.

“I don’t think anything we ran in the game is anything different, to be honest with you,” Garrett said Thursday. “Sometimes you call those plays and the ball goes somewhere else for a variety of reasons. We had some opportunities. Start with the protection, hold the ball a little bit, drive the ball down the field a little bit more than the past. A tribute to those guys [the offensive line] going against a good front in a tough environment. I thought Daniel did a good job seeing things. I thought the guys did a good job ... just winning on routes and we were able to make some plays down the field.”

The real proof that Daniel Jones is ‘The Guy’ for the Giants must come now - Steve Politi - nj.com
One swallow does not a summer make.

Daniel Jones’ performance in a Week 4 win over the Saints was many things. It was timely, encouraging, explosive, productive, accurate, entertaining and, for a certain GM, the best evidence yet that he might retire a happy man on Cape Cahd after all.

It was also this: An outlier.

Completion percentage? 70.0, best in his career.

Yards per attempt? 10.1, best in his career.

Quarterback rating? 108.5, best in his career.

Here’s the thing, though: For Jones to truly prove he is a franchise quarterback, what happened last Sunday needs to happen every Sunday.

Dak Prescott is doing it every week. He has completed 75.2% of his passes with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions, quietly having an MVP-caliber season one year removed from the gruesome leg injury he suffered against the Giants.

What others are saying about the Giants

Giants fans won’t like what Troy Aikman had to say about the G-Men.

During an interview with “The Musers” on 96.7 FM The Ticket in Dallas, the Hall of Fame former Cowboys quarterback said that the Giants “aren’t in Dallas’ class.”

“And the amount of pressure that this offense puts on an opponent — because they are so explosive that there’s a lot of pressure for an opposing offense to feel that they’ve got to go do something every time they have the ball,” Aikman explained. “And if they don’t, they’re going to be down two scores. That’s going to be the challenge for the Giants. They’re coming off a big win, but they’re, in my opinion — and I understand in the NFL anybody can beat anybody and all that — but [the Giants] aren’t in Dallas’ class as far as I’m concerned.”

The Giants’ Defensive Regression - Diante Lee, PFF
The New York Giants are struggling on defense.

New York Giants head coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham are running my least favorite style of defense: bend, but also break.

Graham’s unit has allowed the fourth-worst expected points added per play figure through Week 4. Teams that want to protect against explosive passes while investing in more of a pass rush will run zone blitzes, rushing five or six defenders and playing zone behind it, and that is growing to be the identity of this season’s Giants defense, which ranks last in Cover 1 usage when blitzing. This is an expensive way to defend offenses, and if you’re removing a player from zone coverage to get after a quarterback, you had better get home.

New York is failing to affect the quarterback this season, whether there’s a blitz on or not. In spite of ranking in the top 10 in blitz rate, the team ranks in the bottom 10 in pressure rate and fourth-worst at converting pressures into sacks.

An inability to dictate the game flow to an offense, make tackles at all — especially in the backfield — and isn’t playing any better or tighter in coverage is how the G-Men find themselves with the sixth-lowest defensive success rate in the NFL.

Giants know they need to try something different on defense versus Cowboys - Ryan Dunleavy, NYPost
Yeah, but what?

The Giants need to try something different on defense. They contributed two stops to a fourth-quarter comeback against the Saints, but the win was a statistical anomaly considering the Giants became one of three of 64 NFL winners this season with zero sacks in a game and one of two with zero quarterback hits.

“Obviously, you want to get more pressure here or there,” Patrick Graham said. “But what we try to do is mix it up. Sometimes, it looks like we’re bringing five [rushers] but we’re bringing four or we’re bringing six.”

Cause for concern doubles looking at the Saints’ 170 rushing yards last week. The Cowboys, led by a vaunted offensive line, rank No. 2 in the league with 165.8 rushing yards per game.

“You can’t afford to do that,” Graham said. “You can’t make a living doing it that way, so we’ve got to do a better job stopping the run.”

“I think you put extra emphasis on tackling because of the level of skills guys they have there,” Graham said. “They’re all tough to tackle.”

“This ain’t the Jets” - What the Giants are saying about the Cowboys

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham reflected on his first Giants-Cowboys game in 2016 (he was a DL coach during his first stay with the Giants).

I’ll never forget my first regular season game as a Giants coach and it was against the Cowboys. It was a four o’clock game and I remember JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) standing next to me during the national anthem and he said, ‘This ain’t the Jets’ or he said something to me, right? Because I was with New England for my whole time and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s a little different, man. It’s a little different.’ I always remember that moment and how cool – he looked at me and he was so cool about it. After the national anthem he said, ‘Little different.’ That’s what he said, he said, ‘Little different, isn’t it?’ And I said, ‘Little different.’

And then we won the game. At the end of the game – and he had a great game, I just remember that – and I looked at him and said, ‘This is a little different, man.’ He said, ‘I told you. This is Cowboys-Giants week.’ I remember that.

Giants head coach Joe Judge on the Cowboys' offense:

"Spin a wheel; there's a weapon at every turn." Judge praised quarterback Dak Prescott as one of the most productive players in the NFL. "He's still a threat with his legs, he's not afraid to run it, but this guy really keeps his eyes downfield, looks to extend plays really more for the pass than anything else."

Judge on Dan Quinn’s influence.

Judge said you see defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's influence on the team right away. "This team plays fast, they play aggressive, they're very high-effort and they're having a lot of results with turnovers. It's a turnover-driven defenses, they're having a lot of production and that really stems from up front with the pass rush and the disruption they're getting there. They're able to pin their ears back and really get you if they get you behind the sticks."

Watching out for Trevon Diggs:

The Giants need to know where Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs is at all times. The second-year pro and former second-round draft choice from Alabama leads the NFL with five interceptions. The closest player to him is Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson, who has three. "You don't have the results that he's had by accident," Judge said about Diggs.

DC Patrick Graham on what makes it so tough to go against Kellen Moore:

Smart. I mean, I don’t know him personally, but I know Coach McCarthy and Coach McCarthy spoke highly of him. Smart. As a play-caller, you can see he understands defenses, so he’s trying to attack your weaknesses. I don’t know exactly what he’s doing, but playing the percentages of what you’re going to be in, trying to attack the weaknesses. He has his coverage beaters, he has his stuff intended to try to manipulate the edge. I think he does a good job with that stuff and he does a good job of changing it up throughout the field zones, whether it’s backed up, middle of the field, fringe. I think he does a good job of doing that and then most importantly how most offensive coordinators are judged, he gets the ball out quickly to the guys who make plays whether you look at the percentage of the quick passing game or how they’re getting the ball to Zeke. The guys who are productive with the ball, that’s who he’s getting the ball to whether it’s based on down-and-distance, based on where they’re at on the field. That’s how I measure if a coordinator knows what he’s doing (is) in terms of that, how they get the ball to those guys.

Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey on John ‘Bones’ Fassel.

“As special teams coaches, we’re so thorough in how far we go back [to watch film], and ‘Bones’ has like 90 years of fakes,” Giants coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. “It’s like 85,000 reps. You’ve got to be sound in what you do and how you do it. He’s done everything under the sun.”


Logan Ryan happy for Dak Prescott’s recovery - Michael Elsen, Giants.com
Nothing but class from Giants LB Logan Ryan, whose tackle resulted in Prescott’s ankle injury last year.

“He looks really good,” Ryan said today. “He looks healthy, great and he looks like he’s operating as one of the best quarterbacks in football (with) just how they’re moving the ball and the command he has, great command at the line of scrimmage. You’ve got to root for a guy that’s a good guy and had a tough injury, obviously. You’ve got to root for stories like that. I just love playing against Dak because he’s a competitor and I am and we are, so I think we have to lead our units, go out there and play the game.

“Between me and him, I’m happy that he’s back, I’m happy that he’s operating at a high level because when you’ve played the game for years and you’ve won some Super Bowls and you’ve had contracts, I think what keeps you in the game is the competition. You want to compete against the best. I think that’s why everyone wants to play against Tom Brady, and they want to play against the best. Dak’s one of the best right now, so we want to play against him and we want to play well. He’s a great challenge.”

Jason Garrett recalls what it meant for him when Dak went down last year.

It was a really tough moment for me and really for anybody who’s been around him. Dak’s a special guy. I have a great relationship with him, a great friendship with him and he’s someone who’s made my life significantly better. When you see a guy like that who you’re competing against, go down and you know it’s a serious injury, the human side of everybody comes out. No one wants to see injuries in this game. Nobody wants to see injuries to people they love and care about. That was not an easy moment for me or for anybody who was close to him. He doesn’t surprise me one bit in how he responded to it. Immediately in the aftermath and what he needed to do to get on the road back to recovering and then what he’s done since to come back and play as well as he has. He’s a special guy, he’s made my life way better.


We broke down everything you need to know about this matchup in our Preview Show on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. Make sure you subscribe to our channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss any of our videos!

WATCH OUR COWBOYS/GIANTS PREVIEW RIGHT HERE.