It feels like it has been an eternity since the Dallas Cowboys played a game that really mattered. On Sunday meaningful football returns, and the Cowboys look to make a huge statement against their arch-rival the New York Giants.
Many fans and media pundits want to write the Cowboys off after starting quarterback Tony Romo will once again miss significant time to open the season. What many people don’t realize, is even without Romo the Cowboys lost 6 games last season by 6 points or less. That was without running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris, corner back Orlando Scandrick, and certainly without a backup quarterback like Dak Prescott.
Prescott enters the game as the preseason champion of all quarterbacks after a sensational performance in each game he played. The Giants and their fans are writing this off stating that many players look good in the preseason, only for it not to translate when the starters take the field. This is true, but I will remind all of them that Prescott played well against the Seattle Seahawks starting defense – in Seattle – and was groomed in the daunting SEC conference in college. Simply put, Dak is ready.
It’s assumed that the Giants will attempt to take away the run game and force Dallas to beat them through the air. This is a fine concept on paper, but executing it is an entire different animal. It’s easy to say that Elliott, Morris, Darius Jackson, and Lance Dunbar are an upgrade over Darren McFadden, and Robert Turbin from a year ago. The Cowboys have a stable full of capable backs and they are going to ride them while Romo is out, and to ease Prescott’s transition into the NFL. Good luck, fellas.
Another thing to note, while Prescott is only a rookie, he is surrounded by very talented veterans. He’s not going to be taking on the Giants alone. He will be alongside Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, a star-studded offensive line, and a multitude of quarterback friendly weapons such as Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, and Brice Butler. Prescott doesn’t have to take the game over by himself, he just has to give his play-makers a chance to do their thing, and avoid the critical mistake.
While all eyes will likely be on the offense, I personally expect the defense to play well and surprise people. The defense will be getting back veteran leader, corner back Orlando Scandrick, as well as some new players across the defensive line that should really help. Players such as defensive end Benson Mayowa, and defensive tackles Cedrick Thornton and rookie Maliek Collins. These player should help slow down the run, and hopefully get after the quarterback in the pass game.
One of the strengths of this team that nobody is talking about is the defensive secondary. There wasn’t a position on this team – outside of running back – that looked as deep as the secondary during the preseason. Byron Jones will be making the jump to free safety and provide stability there, and Scandrick, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, and rookie Anthony Brown look to all be bright spots heading into the first game.
The last thing that few people talk about in Dallas is the coaching continuity. The Cowboys have kept their head coach, and main coaches on both sides of the ball for the last three years. This makes it easy for players to pick up where they left off, and tweak their game to the scheme because they are familiar with what is being ran. While the Giants no longer have Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin on the sideline anymore, I look for Dallas to have the advantage on the sideline.
With all the negativity surrounding the injury to Romo, the Cowboys – and their fans – have been waiting for something positive to talk about for a while. They will have plenty to be positive about Sunday evening after they go to 1-0 after defeating the Giants.