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Dallas Cowboys: Who the Cowboys defense must stop when playing the Giants

The Cowboys will need to contain this one aspect of the Giants offense to avoid an upset.

Atlanta Falcons v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s time for the Dallas Cowboys to move onto another NFC East opponent in the New York Giants, but unlike the last time these two teams played, the Giants are without Jason Garrett who was let go two weeks ago. We can assume that the Giants new interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens will continue to use a lot of Garrett’s scheme with some new wrinkles sprinkled in here and there. The Cowboys are going to have to be alert as they aren’t going to be able to predict play-calls the way they may have been able to with Garrett making the calls.

One thing is for sure with the Giants offense and that’s they are going to get the ball into Saquon Barkley’s hands any way they can. Barkley is the most talented player on the offense when fully healthy, and the Cowboys need to make sure they have an eye on him every down as he can be a weapon in the running and passing game. Right now we are going to focus on the Cowboys need to eliminate the run game, focusing the Cowboys defensive ends and including Micah Parsons in this group with his time this season being split between defensive end and linebacker.

Here’s why this group is going to be so important.

At first, you might be thinking how are the defensive ends going to be able to help in the run game if the majority of their plays are interior runs. We’ve seen this Cowboys defensive front smother this running game earlier this season after the injury to Barkley; Devontae Booker was only able to pick up 42 yards on the ground. This time around the Cowboys have Neville Gallimore back, though they will now be without Osa Odighizuwa and Trysten Hill. With a weakened middle, they might have to use the ends to help fortify the run defense. The defensive ends will need to be more conscious of getting toward the center to disrupt the middle runs while still holding their position to push Barkley back inside if he bounces out.

The Cowboys can also use the positioning of DeMarcus Lawrence as a tackle on certain downs to help the interior run defense. Lawrence has already played some tackle when Parsons is lined up as an end, and that would help on the middle runs. The Cowboys can also line up Micah Parsons in the A-gap like they already do often, and that would further cement the middle. If the defensive ends are middle-aware, but still in good position to disrupt an outside run, the Cowboys can turn the Giants offense one-dimensional. And that’s bad news for a team without their starting quarterback like the Giants.

This week all three should be able to highlight their talents against the run. Lawrence and his strength to bull rush and throw offensive linemen away and make a play, coupled with the speed and elusiveness from Randy Gregory and Parsons to get around or inside of their blockers to make plays.

The one thing these three can’t do is allow Barkley to slip outside on a busted run play or a well-timed screen pass. If they are able to contain Barkley with the Giants second-leading rusher in Daniel Jones out, leaving only one option - to throw against a very opportunistic secondary. Dallas had two interceptions against the Giants in week five, and they’ll be facing the less mobile Mike Glennon under center. This also benefits the defensive ends and Parsons so they get the chance to get after a less athletic quarterback. So do the dirty work to start and have fun later.