If the New York Giants are going to have any chance of winning on Sunday, they’ll need for their defense to slow down the Cowboys.
Despite their 0-4 start, the one thing the New York Giants can hang their hat on is that their defense has been much improved.
The unit is giving up just 328.3 yards per game, which is the fifth-fewest in the league. Last week, the Giants held the high-powered Rams offense to just 17 points and 240 total yards.
Truth be told, the defense played well enough against the Rams and Bears to the point where the team should be 2-2.
On Sunday, Big Blue’s defense faces its toughest challenge of the season. New York will be matched up against the Cowboys’ No. 1 ranked offense that’s averaging 509.6 yards per game.
Quarterback Dak Prescott leads the NFL in passing with 1,690 yards, and he has arguably the best trio of receivers in the league in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and rookie CeeDee Lamb. And as explosive as the Cowboys passing game has been, you can’t forget about Ezekiel Elliott, who’s one of the top running backs in football.
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and his unit will have a tall task trying to slow down a potent Cowboys offense that’s scored at least 31 points in the last three games. The task of defending the Cowboys will be even more challenging without Oshane Ximines, who was placed on injured reserve on Friday due to a shoulder injury.
But Graham uses multiple players to slow down opposing offenses — he rotates his front seven to keep his players fresh. One player who saw extended playing time last week was rookie linebacker Tae Crowder.
Earlier this week, Graham was asked what Crowder did to give him the confidence to award him with more playing time.
“Any young player you have and just how we see the process here as we work through it with the players, everything is a process,” Graham said. “The thing that shows up first for me is his diligence in terms of his work ethic off the field. I go to get breakfast and he was here when I was here this morning. I’m sitting here like, what are you doing here?”
“You start seeing stuff like that, that means he’s dialed in, locked in, trying to get his body right, his mind right to practice. I think the thing that shows up with him, he’s instinctual, good football player, comes from a good background of football. He’s just been really working hard. He’s a rookie, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He’s trying his best to improve every day.”
Crowder and the rest of the front seven will play a pivotal role in getting pressure on Prescott and slowing down the Cowboys ground game. But perhaps the most important defensive player on Sunday will be cornerback James Bradberry.
Bradberry is by far the Giants’ best corner and was named to Pro Football Focus’ first-quarter All-Pro team. It’s imperative that he win his one-on-one matchup on whichever receiver is lined up across from him. This will allow the rest of the secondary to focus on containing the other Cowboys pass catchers.
As poorly as the Giants offense has played this season, you can’t expect the team to win a shootout on Sunday. Thus, it’ll be up to the defense to once again step up and contain the Cowboys offense.