Final Thoughts: Opportunity For Dunbar To Break Out

IRVING, Texas – I've got a feeling we're going to continue to see the Cowboys offense diversify when they face off against the Giants on Sunday.

I've got a handful of final thoughts ahead of this game, and maybe the most exciting for fans is that I think we'll see another decent day from some of the Cowboys role players on offense. On top of that, I wanted to make a few notes about some of these New York players coming into AT&T Stadium.

Specifically, Dallas needs to be aware of the Giants' interior defensive linemen, and a certain high-profile rookie receiver.

Here are my final thoughts:

  • If I were the Cowboys, defensively, I would expect the Giants to take a shot down the field with rookie Odell Beckham to test Brandon Carr very early in the game. Beckham has legitimate speed running in the high 4.3s.

The purpose behind this idea is really twofold for the Giants. We have all seen Carr struggle in playing against receivers that have vertical speed. The further he is taken him up the field, the harder it is for him to recover because he lacks that extended speed to go with him.  The other thought deals more with trying to get Beckham going. By having success on that type of route, it will most likely have a positive effect in his confidence going forward in the remainder of the game.

  • There are a couple of Giants defensive tackles that show up when you study their games. I have mentioned Cullen Jenkins and how well he has played as that under-tackle. Another guy that jumped out was Robert Ayers, who normally lines up as an end. When the Giants go to their nickel package, Ayers will slide down inside and rush from over the guards.

Ayers came over from the Broncos this past offseason, and despite having played a number of seasons in the league, he still has the quickness and savvy to give blockers problems. There were several snaps where he was consistently able to win one-on-one and create pressure. For the Cowboys to have success running their offense the inside trio of Travis Frederick, Ronald Leary and Zack Martin must be able to control these defensive tackles for the Giants.

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  • After what we observed from Lance Dunbar in the Seattle game, expect more from him against the Giants in regard to working to get him the ball in space.

It appeared early in the season that Scott Linehan was interested in using Cole Beasley as that mismatch player, and he was able to do some nice things. But Dunbar brings a different element.  He is a running back that also has outstanding hands, and he can come out of the backfield in motion to the outside or line up wide as a receiver – it puts the defense in a bind to how they have to treat him.

If they match him with a linebacker or safety, that is exactly what Linehan wants, because Dunbar is too athletic to be covered by that type of defender. It is difficult for a linebacker or safety to have to play in this type of coverage, because they do not have the coverage skills to play in space and especially one-on-one. I have a feeling that the Giants will struggle when Dunbar is on the field.

  • Look for Kyle Wilber to once again get the start with Rolando McClain and Justin Durant after the way that group played against the Seahawks. It appears that Wilber has the confidence of the coaches in his ability to play in coverage, and that is why they have elected to go with him over Anthony Hitchens. If you remember in 2013, Wilber made his first start at outside linebacker against the Giants and was outstanding. Hitchens will see action in the game on special teams but also as a backup to McClain in case he needs a rest for a play or two.
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