This shocking statistic concerning a NFC East rival might have fans of the Dallas Cowboys rethinking about the team finding a premier pass rusher via free agency.
A lot was made of the huge free agency haul by one of the Dallas Cowboys longtime divisional rivals, the New York Giants, last offseason. Landing some of the top defensive players available in the open market at the time, the Giants invested heavily in reviving a defense that ranked dead last in the NFL the season before.
The Giants spent well over $200 million in total contracts last year, which included re-signing some of their own free agents. But the bulk of the monies went to four premier transfers: Defensive end Olivier Vernon, defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and linebacker Keenan Robinson. New York also re-signed pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul to a one year, $10 million deal.
With this newly bought talent inserted into the lineup, the Giants’ defense improved from dead last to the 10th best in the NFL in only one season. New York’s defensive unit was considered one of the best in the NFL, and certainly tops in the NFC East division. In fact, they were the only team to beat the surging13-3 Cowboys twice last year.
But one Cowboys insider recently pointed out a 2016 statistic you may find shocking. The Cowboys defense actually had more sacks than the Giants last season.
"“The Giants invested heavily on the defensive line before the 2016 season, re-signing Jason Pierre-Paul and adding Olivier Vernon with an $85 million contract,” wrote ESPN Staff Writer Todd Archer recently. “The Giants also signed defensive tackle Damon Harrison. Certainly they had more sacks than the Cowboys, right? Nope. The Cowboys had 36. The Giants had 35.”"
Archer did go on to explain how the Giants ranked fourth in interceptions with 17, while Dallas only recorded nine. Both likely a result of getting pressure on the quarterback, or in the Cowboys case, a lack thereof.
Also, you have to factor in quarterback hurries. According to SportingCharts.com, the Giants were in the top ten in defensive hurries with 109. Dallas had a total 81, which ranked 26th in the league last year.
Maybe, the biggest takeaway from this stat for fans is the fact the Dallas Cowboys defense played better than most critics give them credit for. And despite the obvious need for a premier pass rusher, and with several of their own free agents to sign, this defensive unit is a lot closer to being elite than being irrelevant. And Dallas didn’t have to spend $200 million in free agency to build it.