The offseason practices are in the rearview mirror as the Cowboys are heading towards training camp, which begins on July 24 in Oxnard, Calif.
That's usually the place where many of the questions regarding this team start to get answered.
The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – are attempting to answer 20 pressing questions as the team gets ready for camp and the 2017 season.
Today, we continue the series discussing how the Cowboys can stop a two-game drought against their division rivals, the New York Giants, dating back to last season.
7) After 2 Losses in 2016, Are The Cowboys Ready To Beat the Giants?
Eatman: From the guy who said the Cowboys would beat the Giants by 21 points if they had met again in last year's playoffs, of course, I'll say yes to that answer. The Cowboys and Giants have a tricky rivalry. It's probably no different than any of the other division rivalries. But it really doesn't matter how good one team is over the other, they will play it down to the wire, regardless of the records. So yes, the Cowboys can beat the Giants. Yes, the Giants can beat the Cowboys. It's easy to look at the three losses in the regular season and point to one team that is responsible for 66.6 percent of them. However, those games were both very close and the ball could've bounced a little differently in each one. I think the Cowboys still have to figure out a plan for Odell Beckham Jr. and now with Brandon Marshall in the mix, it might be even tougher. But I expect the Cowboys to have a better offensive plan in place and that might be just enough to push them over the edge.
Helman:There might not be a worse matchup on this year's schedule than New York, as last year's results can attest. High-octane opponents like Atlanta, Green Bay, Oakland and Washington have questions on defense. Nasty defenses like Denver and Kansas City have questions on offense. The Giants might have the best combination of everything. Their defense is disgusting, with an elite secondary and one of the best defensive lines in the game. They have an experienced quarterback, a dynamic receiver corps and they just drafted a potential difference-maker at tight end. The only thing holding the Giants back is probably a leaky offensive line, which they didn't do much to address. If the Cowboys are going to get a win against their divisional rival this year, I think their defensive front is going to have to be much improved to help limit Eli Manning and the New York offense. I think the Cowboys have what it takes to get at least one win against the Giants this time around. I'd honestly be pretty surprised if either team sweeps the season series, though.
Phillips:The easy answer would be, *Dak Prescott's a year wiser; he'll be more prepared for the Giants' defense. *I don't think Dak was the problem last year. Neither was the defense, which held New York to 30 points in two games. If you go back and watch the offense, particularly up in New York, there weren't a lot of open receivers for Prescott to throw to, and Olivier Vernon was a handful rushing against Tyron Smith. As balanced as this offense is, I have confidence they'll find ways to get in the end zone more than twice in two games. If there's a new question mark in this matchup, it's how a younger defensive secondary handles an upgraded Giants passing game.
Broaddus: There are some teams that just match up well with others. The Giants' personnel on defense does just that. To beat Dallas, you have to take away what they like to do on first down and that's run the ball. The Cowboys are one of the best in the league when it comes to gaining four or more yards on first down running the ball. They're equally as good converting second downs to first downs on the next play. The Giants' front seven didn't allow the Cowboys to control down and distance, thus putting them behind the chains. The Giants were also able to keep Dak Prescott in the pocket and not allow him to make plays on the move. They covered well on the outside and made Prescott beat them with some tight window throws which he was unable to pull off (51 percent passing in two games). If the Cowboys are going to beat the Giants, they'll to need to win on first down and stay ahead of the chains, because playing behind them they have no chance.