Initial observations on Cowboys-Giants, Week 1

I’m just going to be all over the place here, but I have a lot of initial thoughts on tonight’s game.  I’ll take a closer look at the game at some point, but here are my quick-twitch observations:

• First off… Congrats, Cowboys fans.  Bigtime win.

• All offseason, I heard from Cowboys fans that their improved secondary would have a significant affect on the pass rush.  Personally, I’m of the belief that a great pass rush does wonders for the secondary, but rarely the other way around.  Well… it sure looked a lot to me like the secondary did a great job blanketing receivers downfield, causing Eli Manning to hold onto the ball longer than he normally would have.

• Tony Romo was excellent.  The drive where he hit Dez Bryant on the deep ball down the sideline was a gorgeous pass. I didn’t think Corey Webster’s coverage was all that bad on that play.  Romo simply put the ball where it had to be.  That’s the one play that really stood out.

• A key player for the Cowboys this season will be Barry Church.  So far so good for him.  He did an excellent job reading Eli Manning’s eyes and almost jumped a short route for a pick 6, but was just a hair late.  I still have to go back and watch the tape a little more closely, but from what I saw of him, I saw a confident player.

• I shouldn’t have to mention Kevin Ogletree.  We all saw it.  Impressive performance.  The Cowboys neded a 3rd receiver to step up.  Ogletree did exactly that this week.  His confidence will be bubbling heading into Week 2.  To be determined if that’s a good thing or not, but obviously, this was an enormous game for him.

• Miles Austin was invisible for a half, and then he made one of his patented “jump in between two defenders, make the catch, and score” plays.  It looked a lot like the catch he made last year against the 49ers, minus the crazy-impressive job of keeping his knee off the ground while stumbling into the end zone.  This one was a walk in, but the way he leaped for the catch looked very familiar.

• DeMarco Murray: Wow.  Beast.  He was looking for contact.  Ran very hard.  At the end of the game, he lowered his head into Chase Blackburn’s chest, and fell forward for an extra 2 yards, leading to a very manageable 3rd and 1.  Blackburn had to leave the field.  Then, on the next play, he got the first down, and once he knew he had the yardage he needed, he slid, staying in bounds so the clock would keep running.  There wound up being a penalty on the play, but Murray’s head was in the right place.  And then of course there was his highlight run.  He ran into Mathias Kiwanuka (who in fairness was already being blocked by Doug Free, I believe), and put Kiwi squarely on his backside. Then he made a move, bounced it, and once he had some breathing room immediate got north-south.  Impressive game.

Much more after the jump (and it’s not all Cowboys)…

• Both of these offensives lines are not good:

  • Cowboys: Tyron Smith had 3 false starts and whiffed on a few occasions trying to block Jason Pierre-Paul.  Mackenzy Bernadeau whiffed on Rocky Bernard (not really a good pass rusher) and had an illegal hands to the face penalty.  Doug Free had a false start and a terrible hold on a run play that would have ended the game.  Jason Witten (OL extended) had a false start and a hold.  That needs to get cleaned up.  I didn’t notice anything bad from Nate Livings or Ryan Cook, so a temporary gold star for them until I take a longer look at the tape.
  • Giants: The Giants’ run game is still really bad.  The stat sheet will say that Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 4.6 yards per carry, but that was largely on the strength of a 33 yard run on a draw play.  The offensive line simply cannot get any kind of push whatsoever, and can’t open up holes.  Pass pro wasn’t horrible, but wasn’t exactly good either.

• David Wilson is not off to a good start attaining his goals for the season:

  1. “Five yards per carry”
  2. “Score at least 10 touchdowns”
  3. “No sacks” allowed on “my behalf”
  4. “A play of at least 20 yards” in every game
  5. “At least six 100-yard games”
  6. “No fumbles.”

• Victor Cruz had a brutally bad game:

  • 3 drops. Bad ones.
  • False start penalty.
  • Block in back penalty (although in fairnss to Victor, that was a ticky-tack call).
  • He appeared to miss a block on a screen pass in which the Giants had the perfect call for a Cowboys blitz. I’ll be taking a second look at that one.

• Hakeem Nicks didn’t look right.  I highly doubt he’s fully healed (not that anyone ever made that claim).

• Morris Claiborne does not seem like he’s all that enthusiastic of a tackler.  I saw glimpses of that in the preseason (against the Chargers, I believe).  But on one drive, Claiborne dove at the ankles of lead blocker Henry Hynoski.  That’s BS effort.  Hynoski made him pay anyway.  When Claiborne dove at Hynoski, the Hynoceros simply put his shoulder into Claiborne’s back and drove him into the ground.  Then, later in the drive, Claiborne got stiff-armed with ease by Ahmad Bradshaw on his TD run.  It can’t be that easy.  However, Claiborne survived his first game in the bigs without giving up any big plays in the passing game.  I’m sure the Cowboys will take it.

• Justin Tryon got abused.  The look on Tom Coughlin’s face when his assistant informed him that Michael Coe would not return to the game said it all.  Coughlin wanted no part of Tryon seeing the field.

• Rough night by Corey Webster too.  Big surprise there. I figured the Cowboys would just stay away from him.  Not so.  They attacked Webster and did so successfully.

• Some good things from Martellus Bennett tonight.  He used his size to bring in the TD pass from Eli Manning, and made a few short catches earlier in the game.  He did have a drop in which it looked to me like he didn’t know where he was on the field.  He did a little stutter step trying to get his feet in bounds on a key 3rd down, which slowed him up, causing him to miss the pass.  He didn’t need to do that – had plenty of room.  But again, I thought he showed some positive things.

• Felix Jones… Where are you?

• Terrible call (or rather non-call) by the officials on Orlando Scandrick’s hold on Victor Cruz in the end zone.  Clear as day.  Otherwise, I thought the replacement refs did a good job.

OK, that outta do it for the night.  I’ll have more in the morning.

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32 Comments

  1. logical says:

    Morris Claiborne played very well. He doesn’t look like he’s making business decisions and tackled the players when a few passes were completed on him leaving no RAC yards. There was other pressures besides Ware. Hatcher did a good job of pressuring Manning and had a huge sack. Spencer did ok and Ratliff will be back soon. Also, Mike Jenkins will help depth soon as well. Miles Austin still needs to get in shape and will only play better throughout the year; given he does not re-injure his hammy. I heard there was a problem with Ryan Cook knowing the cadence and that caused a couple of Tyron Smith’s false starts. The refs kept spotting the ball a half a yard short of where the boys were tackled when they were close to first downs. It seemed with all of the penalties on one particular drive where the cowboys would put the game in serious doubt (the Miles Austin TD drive) there was penalty after penalty of marginal calls. A few were blatant……but if you are going to complain about the Cruz hold by Scandrick, I think you have to consider that and the offensive pass interference on Martellus Bennett for his TD. They threw the flag on the wrong game. Dallas will only improve with blocking and penalties on the O-Line. They look to have more of a push this year than last. I look for them to go 4-2 in the NFC East divisional games. Also, thinking that the Eagles’ offensive line is superior is a mistake. They have to prove that they can protect Vick and overcome the Peters injury.

  2. Ric says:

    “Terrible call (or rather non-call) by the officials on Orlando Scandrick’s hold on Victor Cruz in the end zone. Clear as day. Otherwise, I thought the replacement refs did a good job.”

    Uh, inside of 5 yards from LOS. So, no hold I believe. The “hold” was not sustained.

    1. 5 yards has nothing to do holding. You can’t hold at all.

  3. Dez Bryant's Probation Officer says:

    Both teams looked like they weren’t ready to start the season, especially in the first half. But I gotta say, Tony Romo looked sensational. Mobile, saw the field well (except that Boley pick), and he seemed to have more zip on the ball than I remember in the past.

    Bold, daring, accurate.
    Great performance from Romo.

  4. B_man says:

    What? Are you sure you watched the game?

  5. TJ says:

    Right…Miles looked awful last nigh…haha

  6. Matthew Butch says:

    Can’t help but comment on Cruz. I know its only one game, but so far he is proving me right- he is overrated and the next Miles Austin (aka hyped but suck).

  7. seanrude says:

    You mentioned the Cowboys’ improved secondary, and they are better, but I think the addition of Bruce Carter, and/or the subtraction of Keith Brooking/Bradie James, certainly helped the Cowboys’ defense. Brooking and James were just abused last year, and while I did not notice Carter making any huge plays, I also did not see him getting stoned at the O-Line on a blitz or chasing a tight end across the middle while Eli hit the TE in stride. That alone will improve the defense.

    I was not a fan of Claiborne’s Newmanesque tackling technique but as long as he do not pull a Jenkins and lay palm fronds in the path of the ball carrier on the way to the end zone, I can live with it, as long as he performs ar advertised in coverage and ball hawking

  8. Congrat To GM Jerry for his 3 UDFA,s Olgertree,Miles & Romo,His brand new 50mil Carr,& Getting rid of Marty B(he,s da Gmen problem now)

  9. Joe D says:

    Haha you harped on the COwboys 3rd WR and Marty B all off season and both had very good games. Moreso Olgetree though..

    I think the Giants just looked a bit out of sync. Should still be a good team. and where the F was Justin Tuck? dude was harder to find than Waldo… IMO he really hasn’t had a great season since the 07 08 days…. hes been injured and barely there 70% of the other games.

    1. but he has an awesome facemask!

    2. slandog says:

      Well in defense, Scandrick was going against 4th and 5th CB’s I believe. Coe was 3rd CB, got hurt and then the next guy in was 4th CB at best. I think anyone could have a field day against a 4th CB.

      I didn’t get to watch much of the game so I’m going on what I read so far. So maybe Scandrik did a lot of damage when Coe was in there also….not sure?

      1. jrduncans says:

        I think you mean Ogletree, and one of his touchdowns was while Webster was covering him.

        1. slandog says:

          Good god, yeah I meant Ogletree, my bad.

      2. Coe was 4th, after Webster, Thomas and Prince, but I get what you are saying. Ogletree isn’t going to be Robinson or Cruz for that matter. He’s a 4th year guy that got to light up some backups. He made the plays when called upon though.

        1. slandog says:

          You’re very right, he did make the plays when called upon. But I’m saying that it might have been against a weaker opponent. As said above one of his TD’s was when Webster was on him. So we know he can play, but he’s never had a game even with a TD before.

          All I’m really saying is I don’t see him being the next Robinson for the Cowboys.

          1. Derf Diggy says:

            Did Cruz have a game with TD’s before he broke out?
            What about Austin(the KR in Seattle doesn’t count)…?
            And Robinson was pretty much a “bust” at his 3 stops before Dallas.

            Think a lot of credit goes to Romo….but…Oggs balled out!

            His best catch/td was on Webster…a NFL level CB. Is he about to go out and start abusing the Revis’ and Nmandi’s of the world? Definitely not….but he’s going to be called on to make plays against 3rd and 4th CB’s…if he can succeed in that role…

            1. Derp says:

              Austin caught a long TD against Green Bay back in ’08 IIRC.

  10. Todd B says:

    A few comments of my own:

    - I disagree that Claiborne looked good. He was beat easily muliple times. The only thing that saved him were bad passes.

    - While the Cowboys don’t have a consistent pass rusher other than Ware, their front seven SWARM to ball carriers. That will keep opposing offenses in a lot of 3rd and longs.

    - Giants OL still have problems run blocking. They got away with this last year. Not so sure a team can continue to be that ineffective in the run game and expect to win consistently.

    - I think the Giants DL bought into the hype and were taken a little off guard. I fully expect them to take out their frustrations on whomever they play next week.

    -

    1. deg0ey says:

      “I think the Giants DL bought into the hype and were taken a little off guard. I fully expect them to take out their frustrations on whomever they play next week.”

      They’ve got the Bucs coming to town. I think you’re right – Freeman’s gonna be running all day.

  11. A few things that I took away:

    1. Even with our LT issues, we easily have the best OL in the Division.
    2. Philly’s DL will FEAST on both of those OLs.
    3. Dallas’ Rookie CB looked decent in coverge and plays the Run like Asante.
    4. Dallas’ Safeties are still where you want to attack.
    5. Cruz was hearing footsteps that weren’t there all night. Can’t have that if you make your living over the middle. That shot he took from LaRon Landry seems to be lingering.
    6. Sean Lee looks very good.
    7. Nicks clearly was playing injured, his routes weren’t crisp at all.
    8. Looks like the Giants run game is going to be non-existent again this year
    9. Giants secondary looks even worse than it was last year, if you have a chance watch the Austin TD. What in the World was Rolle doing on that play?
    10. Both OLs were getting away with some massive holds(Scandrick included) last night, but other than that the replacements were solid.
    11. Dallas’ pass rush is still pretty much Ware or nothing.
    12. Romo would put up record numbers behind a competent OL.
    13. Murray has to be slowed in the backfield. You don’t want him getting a head of steam.

    1. Joe D says:

      agreed on Sean Lee he’s a player… I think Morris Claiborne looked decent for a 1st start and I don’t think eli even challeneged Carr? The prescription to beating romo is as awlays keep pressuring him .

      1. Giants DL(minus JPP) was clearly running on fumes by the 4th Q. A couple of injuries hurt their DT depth.

      2. realtick says:

        Lol, I love how the “prescription” to beating Romo is “keep pressuring him.” Um, that’s pretty much the prescription for every QB that’s ever played the game, but for some reason folks think Romo is an unusual spazzz because of it.

  12. Dom says:

    The hold to negate the game ending run was on Witten, not Free. Great notes otherwise Jimmy, always appreciated.

    1. Crap, you’re right. Run went to the left. Wouldn’t make sense that it would be Free. Thanks.

  13. TJ says:

    Clearly the more talented team won the game last night. Pretty simple.

    1. Derf Diggy says:

      Clearly.

      Great game Giants fans!

  14. ct17 says:

    Very acccurate reporting. The question marks on the Cowboys played well. Romo and the coaching staff had a good game plan andd executed it.

    Definitely look a the Cruz block on the screen. That really stood out to me. It was a great play call. Eli’s throw was high forcing the WR to jump, but if Cruz makes that block that should be a TD.

    1. I’m looking at it right now. It’s worse than you remember. Cruz didn’t “miss” the block – he actually willingly got out of the way.

      And thanks.

  15. SteveH says:

    Morris Claiborne is just following the well established tradition of ball hawks making “business decisions”. I mean typically they wait longer than their first game to start making those decisions but still, the precident is there.

  16. Derp says:

    Good stuff.

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