Though Saturday’s win by the Dallas Cowboys over the New York Giants was not the vast blow out predicted here, a ten point victory is a large margin in the NFL. As per usual a familiar foe showed that Dallas is vulnerable in some key areas. How Dallas responds to this attack on their weaknesses will decide games against superior foes, especially the better offenses.
Dallas best game on defense came in bottling up the New Orleans Saints. Dallas will need more great performances like that to succeed in the playoffs. As it stands there are lingering defensive issues that haunt the team.
Brandon Carr could not cover rookie Odell Beckham. This was a match up Carr should own, at $10 million a season covering a rookie. The New York Giants always seem to have someone in the same mold as Beckham: overachievers like Victor Cruz and Steve Smith, who are less than six feet tall, and run great routes. Beckham had four catches, going for two touchdowns. In at least one touchdown Carr was in zone coverage, with no jam, which should not happen in a rematch. Jason Garrett also deflected blame after the game, saying Carr was playing with a sore hamstring, implying Carr’s play could improve with some rest.
There’s rest this week, as the Cowboys players are getting two days off after Sunday’s game, in preparation for Monday Night Football. The next week will feature less rest as Dallas plays Arizona that Sunday. That Arizona game will have Larry Fitzgerald, the kind of super star wide receiver who tortured Dallas in 2013. If Carr struggled with Beckham, Fitzgerald may have a field day.
J.J. Wilcox continues to be unremarkable. While Barry Church is a lynchpin, the safety play opposite him is not reliable. Wilcox’s anticipation is not yet at the level it needs to be, and because of that he often allows the completion, whiffs a tackle, or makes the stop a little too late.
The pass rush was imperceptible against the Giants. The Giants, even when bad, under Coughlin, still have tough guys in the trenches. Dallas couldn’t get a sack against a team that gave up eight sacks to the Eagles. Even Rolando McClain’s A gap blitzes were getting picked up. Eli Manning was not forced into bad throws by pocket pressure. He made some hurried throws but Dallas did not jilt his concentration.
Tight Ends continue their assault on the end zone in Dallas. It’s a phenomena across the NFL, one Dallas is taking advantage of with Witten and Escobar. Still, Dallas gives up touchdowns to Tight Ends. There’s a variety of players responsible for this issue, but the easiest solution is the return to health of strong side linebacker Bruce Carter. SLBs are expected to cover TEs, it’s the defining feature of the position. Right now linebackers Rolando McClain, Justin Durant, Bruce Carter and back up Anthony Hitchens are the best defensive unit on the team — only rivaled by the defensive tackles, who are doing great against the run.
The defensive tackle group continues to turn in better and better games, improving each week. Terrell McClain made three jarring tackles on the Giants running backs in his return to health. After last season’s debacle along the interior of the defensive line, the DT’s have been quietly good and getting better