There is nothing like waiting all day for a Sunday night game featuring the Dallas Cowboys to kick off our NFL season. This had all the makings of a tough road game as both the Cowboys and New York Giants made it to the NFC Divisional Round last year. With an improved Giants team and playing in less-than-ideal weather conditions, it was possible that the talent advantage the Cowboys had could be neutralized and we were going to be in for a barn burner.
But no. The Cowboys had other plans, and those plans included a 40-point rout over their divisional foes. In real-time, it was quite enjoyable, but how does it feel the second time around? Answer: Even more satisfying. The Cowboys put a lot of great things on tape for us to enjoy, and here are the things that stood out after further review.
When we think back to the Cowboy's Super Bowl reign in the ‘90s, it’s hard not to remember the many fast defenders flying all over the field. It was one of the deepest units in franchise history and everywhere you looked, they had a speedy defender coming at someone.
The Cowboys provided us with some flashbacks of that time on Sunday night as the collective swarm of Dan Quinn’s unit was quite impressive. The team has one of the strongest safety groups in the league, reminiscent of the Darren Woodson, James Washington, and Thomas Everett days. But the speed this team has at linebacker could be the difference maker. Second-year players Damone Clark and Markquese Bell showed remarkable hustle, not allowing the Giants ball carriers to do anything in the open field.
I haven't seen a defensive unit this fast since Jimmy Johnson's Super Bowl-winning team. The Giants couldn't get anything after the catch. The closing speed from the Cowboys' defense was remarkable last night. pic.twitter.com/UNPzlSDscr— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 11, 2023
A relentless pass rush
The Giants had good blocking schemes going early and it looked like the Cowboys' defense was going to get nickel and dimed to death in the run game, especially with the sneaky elusiveness of quarterback Daniel Jones. Fortunately, the Cowboys clamped down on the run and were wrapping up everything the Giants threw at them. That opened the window for the Cowboys' pass rush to get going, and boy did they.
The Giants’ starting tackles Andrew Thomas (4th overall in 2020) and Evan Neal (7th overall in 2022) struggled to handle the Cowboys' pressure on the edge, but the real trouble came up the middle as New York’s interior offensive line was heavily outmatched. The continuous inside/out stunts offered up by the Cowboys' defense made things a complete nightmare for the Giants' offensive line.
And the best thing about it was that everyone was getting involved. Micah Parsons was constantly wrecking things, but it opened up even more opportunities for other guys. Osa Odighizuwa attacked from all sides and finished with two sacks. Dorance Armstrong also had two sacks and finished with five pressures on just 16 pass-rushing snaps. Armstrong was remarkably efficient. Five other edge rushers received more playing time than he did on Sunday night, but he was every bit as good as any of them.
I can't remember the last time I saw a quarterback under as much duress as Daniel Jones was last night. Let's take an extra moment to savior this relentless Cowboys' pass rush on Sunday night. pic.twitter.com/pChH0hI8x2— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 11, 2023
A very nice debut
We can’t say enough about the Cowboys' safeties as a whole as their starters are fantastic and their depth guys are pretty okey dokey too. Rookie Juanyeh Thomas got the start in his first NFL game filling in for Donovan Wilson and the defense didn’t skip a beat. Wilson is a frequent splash-play maker for this defense and Thomas made sure that people in the first row got wet.
My followers know I developed an affinity for Juanyeh Thomas after he impressed in training camp and preseason, but that love keeps growing stronger.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 11, 2023
Tackle for a loss
Pass break up
And a blocked field goal
That's a rather impressive NFL debut. pic.twitter.com/bFJqywc5F4
Chuma Edoga is better than we thought
There is this little voice in the back of my head that tells me if the Cowboys offensive line gets nicked up, they could be in real trouble. And with an injury-prone player like Tyron Smith on the team, it’s hard not to think about that. To make matters worse, right out of the gate, the Cowboys were without their starting left guard Tyler Smith. Suffice it to say, all eyes were on backup lineman Chuma Edoga to see how he would do in his first appearance in a Cowboys uniform.
And surprisingly, he did well. The guy has been a solid player his entire career, but he’s always been in bad situations, first with the Jets and then with the Falcons. He’s in a great situation now with great talent all around him and suddenly he fits this team like a glove. Those grave concerns we had about the state of the depth of the Cowboys' line will start to go away if this is what they have in store for us. Tyler Smith returning will make this offensive line even better, but it still feels comforting to have a player like Edoga available off the bench if needed.
I liked the Chuma Edoga signing, but somehow lost sight of how good he was due to injury and an uninspiring training camp. Well, I remember again as the veteran was very solid filling in for the injured Tyler Smith. I love it when a good run-blocking play comes together. pic.twitter.com/SnhQQcIPDH— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 11, 2023
Not only was the offensive line blocking well in the running game, but they did a great job giving Prescott a clean pocket. He was never sacked and rarely faced any pressure.
And since I showed the eleventy million times that Daniel Jones was under attack, I think it's only fair to show all the instances where the Giants' defense was able to get pressure on Dak Prescott.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 11, 2023
Don't blink. pic.twitter.com/CL53IpRHHl
The offense has more to offer
If there is anything we came away from in this game with a little uncertainty, it would be how good is the offense. Statistically, it wasn’t great as none of their stars put up big numbers. Their best offseason acquisition, Brandin Cooks, was held to just two catches for 22 yards. Their top offensive draft investment, Luke Schoonmaker, didn’t even have the ball thrown to him. Would this offense have been able to cruise along had it not been for such a dominating defensive performance?
That is a question that remains to be answered, but there was still a lot to like about how they played on Sunday night. There was a good mix of players used, they didn’t turn the ball over, and they were efficient in the red zone. Plus, they left some points on the board with some passes that could’ve very easily been caught, and Prescott and the starters didn’t play after the first three and a half minutes of the fourth quarter. The damage could’ve been even worse.
Some will say the defense did the heavy lifting while the offense coasted. While that's mostly true, we haven't seen what this offense is capable of. If Dak & the starters played a full game and the TEs didn't have a couple of drops, they could've easily dropped a 50-burger. pic.twitter.com/oZiSlPdTHy— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 11, 2023