EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Cowboys walked into MetLife Stadium and took over the rainy turf from the get-go on their way to a commanding 40-0 shutout victory to open the season.
The defense shined on a level that we haven't seen in a long time, the offense debuted its new system and the special teams even got in on the scoring action to set the tone for the 2023 season.
There's a lot to take away from game one. Here are 5 Takes, presented by Take 5 Oil Change.
1. The Dallas defense will win more games than some teams will win overall this season.
That is just how good they were on Sunday night. From applying pressure on Daniel Jones to holding things down in the secondary and forcing turnovers, the highly anticipated debut of this defense lived up to the hype and then some. It began with the defensive line getting home on multiple occasions on New York's second drive before the secondary forced a turnover on Trevon Diggs' big hit that gave way to a DaRon Bland pick-six. That momentum continued throughout the game and never really slowed. If that can carry into next week and the rest of the season, this defense alone could probably be a playoff team with the wins they will generate.
2. Mike McCarthy's offense will be a personnel bingo card every week.
Despite battling the elements and an athletic pass rush from New York, the debut of Mike McCarthy's offense was respectable on Sunday night. The defense helping to jump out to a quick 16-point lead didn't allow for McCarthy to dig too deep in his bag, but certain fun personnel packages debuted. Peyton Hendershot lining up in the backfield to assist in pass protection, KaVontae Turpin being a prominent ball-carrier out of the backfield, and Deuce Vaughn lining up both in the slot and out of the backfield late all contributed to the intrigue around certain personnel sets. Moving forward, I have a feeling we're still only scratching the surface to what could be played around with in 2023 in that department.
3. Juanyeh Thomas will be a timely playmaker this season, even when Donovan Wilson returns.
What a debut for the second-year safety out of Georgia Tech. Thomas was noticeable early and often in stuffing the run and making a big pass breakup in coverage. However, it was the big blocked field goal on New York's first drive that was returned for a Noah Igbinoghene touchdown that we'll remember coming out of the night. Thomas made a handful of impact plays early to help establish the tone for the defensive unit tonight. Even when Donovan Wilson comes back and some of his snaps are dialed back, still expect Thomas to make some timely efforts in 2023.
4. Dak Prescott took way too many hits tonight.
If you could take away one big negative from tonight, it would have to be the hits that Dak Prescott took in the pocket. Officially, Prescott only took three hits, but he hit the ground on a number of occasions, especially in the first half. You would think that Tyler Smith not playing would play a big role in that fact and there wouldn't be anything to worry about once he's back in, but Chuma Edoga did a great job in his place and was not the biggest liability up front. Instead, it was Tyler Biadasz who got beat on multiple occasions by New York's athletic defensive line. Maybe it's the first game knacks that have to be hammered out, but I'd like to see Prescott get kept a little cleaner next week and beyond.
5. Brandon Aubrey continued to earn his keep…for now.
When Brandon Aubrey missed the first extra point of the season, it extended an unfortunate Dallas streak that went back to Brett Maher's tough stretch last year of the Cowboys converting just one of their past eight PAT attempts. The rookie kicker settled in though by nailing home two quick field goals from 21 and 38 yards in the first half and converting on his remaining four extra points. On a rainy night where a veteran like Graham Gano struggled, Aubrey's early miss was quickly forgiven. For that, I consider his performance strong in game one.