After a week one explosion by the Dallas Cowboys offense, the defense is now the missing link for a Super Bowl run.
Call it what you want after the Dallas Cowboys exploded on offense in week one. Some will say, “it is just the Giants,” some might say, “well, do it again,” and even others will espouse, “this is a Super Bowl team, right now.” While I agree in some levels with all three comments, I also say, the defense needs to take the next step. If they do, this team is easily one of the best in the NFL.
Sure, the pre-snap movement was awesome, the touchdowns by just about everyone (sorry Michael Gallup), and the rhythm the offense got into were all awesome to watch and certainly deserve to steal the show. On the other side of the ball, there were some issues that will get overlooked because of how great the offense looked. They were solid, but will need to do more.
Early in the game Saquon Barkley tore a huge run up the middle and cut left. Going back to watch that play, it all started with Leighton Vander Esch taking himself out of the play by over-committing to the wrong gap and taking himself out of the play.
This was followed up by another bad angle by Jeff Heath and Barkley gashed the Cowboys. Watching the game, there was a lot of over-pursuing and could have caused some issues against a different team. The Giants don’t have the horses on offense a team like the Saints, Chiefs, or Rams have.
Sure, Barkley is a special runner and ran up 139 yards against the Cowboys. The issue has a little to do with how good Barkley is, however, some of the issue was the Cowboys absolutely playing him poorly. But the issues on defense were more than just Barkley and the run game.
The issue that immediately will jump off the screen watching the Giants game is the lack of sacks. Sure, there was the intentional grounding, however the Cowboys did not get to Manning enough. Manning was hit six times, but if the Cowboys want a Super Bowl run, there has to be more pressure. I’m not saying it was bad, I am saying they have to take the next step.
Another interesting stat was that Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath combined for 20 tackles. Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee had 17. I won’t put in the corners, but this means players were getting to the second level. Some of this was the over-pursuit, some was being washed out of a play, and some was the Giants having to throw more later in the game. Just something to watching moving forward.
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The last part of the defense is the lack of turnovers in the secondary. There were two fumbles recovered and one recovered by the Giants. However, there were at least two balls that should have been intercepted, not including the knockdown by Heath on the Hail Mary. The Cowboys have to start intercepting the ball or at least generating more turnover opportunities. Interceptions have been an issue over the past few seasons, but with a revamped front defensive line, the hope is, it creates more bad passes.
I don’t say all of this as if the Cowboys defense is bad, it isn’t. However, I say this in the context of them playing a bad Giants team and having some issues against them and just looking forward. We might be able to chalk this up to the first game of the season. We could also say the first game is always strange as game tape hasn’t been built for the season. Also, you can’t look past the experience of Eli Manning, even if his skills are diminishing.
As the Cowboys head into a game against the Redskins, all eyes will be on the offense, which if we are all being honest, is a totally valid thing. However, the Redskins did put up a lot of points early on the Eagles. Moving forward, the Cowboys’ defense must be another step better for this team to be an absolute Super Bowl contender. They have the pieces, they just need it to all come together. The earlier, the better.
- Published on 09/10/2019 at 12:00 PM
- Last updated at 09/10/2019 at 09:39 AM