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Cowboys scouting report: Breaking down the Giants offensive scheme

Things have gotten bad for the Giants offense

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NFL: New York Giants at Las Vegas Raiders Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys return home after a narrow loss to the Eagles, and they now welcome a spiraling Giants team into AT&T Stadium. The last time these two teams played each other, it came on the road in a torrential downpour and the Cowboys won 40-0. It’s shocking to say, but things have actually gotten worse for the Giants offense since then.

At the time, we broke down this offensive scheme based on what went on with New York last year. Head coach Brian Daboll brought his overarching philosophy from the Bills and melded it with Mike Kafka, who came over from the Chiefs and actually called the plays on offense for the Giants. The result was a hybrid West Coast tailored to the strengths (and weaknesses) of the personnel.

After getting shut out at home by the Cowboys, the rails came off in Week 2. After getting down 20-0 at halftime to the Cardinals, widely believed to be tanking this season, the Giants had to mount a furious comeback to win on a last-second field goal. In that process, a controversy quickly grew over what looked a lot like Daboll taking over play-calling from Kafka for the second half. Both coaches denied this after the game.

After the narrow victory over the Cardinals, the Giants continued to languish on offense. They dropped four straight games while averaging 10 points per game. The third loss in that stretch saw Daniel Jones go down with a neck injury, pushing longtime journeyman Tyrod Taylor into starting duty.

After the fourth loss, Taylor’s first start, news broke that Daboll had taken over offensive coordinator duties from Kafka during practice:

Giants head coach Brian Daboll turned back to the clock to his days as the Bills’ offensive coordinator this week and ran the Giants’ offensive meetings with players as he once did in Buffalo. This is the first week Daboll has taken this drastic measure. He was not only discussing game strategy and game plan. He was also coaching individual position groups and players on his expectations and adjustments for specific plays in those meetings.

Once again, Daboll insisted Kafka would still call plays on Sundays. Whatever the truth is, the Giants ended up winning that next game in an upset over the Commanders. However, the offense only scored 14 points, so it wasn’t necessarily a watershed moment.

The Giants returned to the loss column a week later with another terrible performance that saw Taylor leave early with an injury. Undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito, a New Jersey native, took his place. That led to Jones’ return from his own injury, but he quickly left last week’s game with what turned out to be a torn ACL.

That sets the stage for the Giants team the Cowboys now host. Jones is done for the year, and Taylor is still on injured reserve from his injury. DeVito will be making his first career start this Sunday, with only recently signed journeyman Matt Barkley to back him up.

A year ago, this offense was playing well enough to win games on the margins. They were 16th in offensive DVOA and ninth in EPA/play. In the offseason, the team committed to Jones with a contract extension and then spent a lot of money on surrounding him with weapons.

Very few of those moves have panned out. Darren Waller, a major trade acquisition, landed on injured reserve a week ago. He still leads the team in catches and yards even after missing a game. Free agent signing Parris Campbell has just 100 yards on 18 catches. Darius Slayton, re-signed in the offseason, is second on the team with 23 catches for a 316 yards. And running back Saquon Barkley is the only Giants player with multiple receiving touchdowns; he has just two.

Injuries have played a part in that, but the Giants’ offensive issues have been deeply rooted from the start. They’re currently 32nd in offensive DVOA and 31st in EPA/play. It’s not even completely clear who is calling the plays these days, and a once rising star in Kafka now seems to be on the outs with the organization even if he is still in charge of the offense.

Now, all that dysfunction comes to Dallas to face a defense that obliterated a much healthier, more confident iteration of this offense a couple months ago. It’s not hard to understand why the Cowboys are so heavily favored in this one.

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