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Film Room: Expect a lot of Darren Waller


FRISCO, Texas — Sunday Night Football is right around the corner, as the Dallas Cowboys gear up to head north to face their divisional foe in the New York Giants in the 2023 season opener.

With it being the season's debut, very limited film for what each team will bring to the field on Sunday night exists, as the Cowboys welcome in a new offensive system under Mike McCarthy while the Giants have added multiple impact players on both sides of the ball.

When asked about the challenge of dealing with unscouted looks, McCarthy said, "The reality of it is 35-percent of these plays in these first four weeks will be unscouted looks."

What can Dallas scout to prepare?

The Giants starting group played just one drive on each side of the ball during the preseason, and while the new wrinkle of TE Darren Waller being in the fold wasn't opened up completely, the tendencies were there for QB Daniel Jones to find the athletic inline playmaker.

Here are the notes from the Film Room going into week one against the Giants.

  • As previously mentioned, Darren Waller will be a popular target for the Giants' offense. During Daniel Jones' time in New York, Evan Engram had been up-and-down in being a reliable playmaker in the receiving game until his departure in 2022. In an offense that's predicated on the short game, a difference maker at the tight end position became a need that was sought out by the front office when they traded for Waller in March. In his one drive in the preseason, Waller hauled in three receptions for 30 yards with grabs lined up in the slot, out wide and as an offset tight end. His versatility in lining up pre-snap will force Jayron Kearse and other defenders to remain diligent with motion and with Waller's release toolbox.
  • Speaking of motion, in 2022 and in the one drive the starting offense had in the preseason, motioning tight ends played a big part in finding success for both Waller and Daniel Bellinger. As Daniel Jones grows with his comfortability identifying defensive markers pre-snap, the usage of motion will only increase. It allows the offense to play into Waller's versatility as a legitimate receiver when he can line up anywhere down the line of scrimmage from inline to out wide.
  • Another new addition for the Giants offense is rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, who arrives in New York as immediately one of the fastest players in the NFL. After going through a 2022 season that saw the Giants rank at the bottom of the league in completions of 20-plus yards, Hyatt was brought in to add a speed element downfield to Daniel Jones' passing attack. His time at the University of Tennessee and his early markings in the preseason show a receiver that can fly away from defenders in the blink of an eye both downfield and in taking end around carries. His speed will be one of the most dangerous weapons in the game on Sunday night, and you can expect it to get brought out early and often.
  • A stiff challenge awaits for the Cowboys interior offensive line when Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams touch the field on Sunday night. After both had strong 2022 campaigns, each dusted the rust off with ease in their lone preseason drive. Lawrence created immediate pushes off the line with his high motor and elite hand leverage that cripples opposing center's upper-halves while getting pushed back, while Williams utilized his athleticism to get around opposing guards. The combination has proven to be deadly for the Giants, and that challenge won't be any easier on the home field in primetime.
  • Where can Dallas find the most success on Sunday night? In the deep pass game. The Giants were at the bottom of the league in interceptions a year ago and in the middle of the pack in passing yards allowed, which forced the front office to go get two rookie cornerbacks that are expected to start: Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins. Add in the fact that Adoree Jackson will be moved into the slot to cover CeeDee Lamb – a position that Jackson only had 68 snaps at in 2022 – and a recipe for downfield success is starting to brew. There's a lot to like about the veteran-led Dallas receiving corps going up against a young and unproven Giants secondary, and it could lead to Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy finding the big plays in their first game under McCarthy's new offensive system.

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