Cowboys played a lot of man-underneath, cover-2 zone-on-top and it was very effective in game 1. The Cowboys CBs were very aggressive with the Giants WRs, knowing that they had deep help if they got beat. Perhaps they got a little advantage with this plan, because it was replacements refs calling the game and they let the DBs get away with more holding than the regular refs did. But the Cowboys CBs did a good job, especially considering that their DL beat the Giants OL and put pressure on Eli. They also did a good job stopping the run, resulting in lean output from the Giants offense. Several things have changed since then - the Giants OL has really improved, providing better run blocking and pass protection. Cowboys front 7 has lost some important players, particularly Sean Lee, their leading tackler and fastest LB. If Cowboys stick with their man-underneath cover-2, Giants will have to run the ball against it. But they will have to move through the air also and Martellus Bennet becomes an important target, because he will be matched up against a LB, where the Cowboys are slower because of absence of Lee. Giants should also go to a lot of 3 and 4 WR packages to challenge the Cowboys safeties that are not as strong as their CBs. If the Giants are going to resort to their running game because of Cowboys scheme, they should get Wilson on the field some. Running with the threat of a long run is much more effective than 3 yards and a cloud of field turf.
Offense is where I am worried about the Cowboys. We have the image of the Giants defense, especially the DL being a swarming, powerful, dominant group, but they have not played that way through the first 7 games of the season. I don't know if he's hurt or just showing his age, but Justin Tuck, though playing pretty well, is not the dominant force he was a few years ago. I was bored last night and popped in a DVD I made of one of the Giants games from 2009. That was far from a great season for the Giants, but Tuck was all over the field - he was nearly unblockable. I am not worried about sacks and statistics, but he just doesn't seem to be the formidable presence he was a few years ago. He certainly regained his form last year in the last 2 games of the year and the playoff run, so maybe he still has it in him. But he just doesn't look as strong right now - that allows the opposing OL to double JPP and slide the protection to that side without worrying about having to provide help on Tuck's side also. It may not be a coincidence that the Giants DL best game of the year was against the 49ers when Kiwanuka took more snaps in the DL instead of at LB and Tuck sat a little bit more. If the Giants DL does not put pressure on Cowboys, Romo has the ability and the skill position players available to him to play a big game and put up some points. He was excellent in the first game. Of course, the Giants DL has gotten a bit better since then, Corey Webster has been playing better and with both Prince A as well as Hosley on the field now, two of the CBs that played in that Dallas game, Tryon and Coe, that got picked on by Romo for the big plays all night long, are no longer in the regular DB rotation. Still - now would be a good week to see if there's any life left in this defense, if they can be dominant and not just pretty good, because they are not playing up to their resume and their expectations so far. Cowboys OL has been doing pretty well despite some injuries and question marks. They completely controlled the Ravens game two weeks ago running for 227 yards. They lost at the end because of some poor clock management and coaching in the closing minute but should have won the game. Last week they ran for only 85 yards against the Bucs, but Giants had trouble running against the Bucs also - they play good run defense. For the Cowboys, their best runner, DaMarco Murray is out and Felix Jones is nicked up but will probably play. Giants need a good game out of their DL and it has been up and down lately.