IRVING, Texas – Nothing I write is going to make anyone forget the absence of Tony Romo, and on top of that Dez Bryant still looks like a long shot to play. But when you consider the changes to the personnel for the Cowboys, this really is almost like a brand new team.
Dallas has new personnel joining the fray on defense, and they'll be debuting a new starting quarterback – as has been noted already. But it's these changes that might change the dynamic of this game, and they highlight two of the matchups I'm most interested to see.
Let's look into them:
Cowboys DTs against Giants OG Geoff Schwartz
If there was one thing the Giants' Monday night game against the Eagles exposed, it's that there are issues with their offensive line. When you study them on tape, it is clear that the right side of the line with Geoff Schwartz and Marshall Newhouse is not as good as Justin Pugh and Ereck Flowers are on the left.
Where Schwartz tends to struggle is that he doesn't have the initial or foot quickness to handle a rusher that can really come off the ball. When rushers capture the edge, he really struggles to redirect and work in front. Rushers have been able to get him off balance and put him in a position where he is playing over the tops of his feet. This is where he shows really poor body control and balance and rushers take advantage of that.
The more these Dallas tackles make him move, the more problems he will have. Look for Rod Marinelli to attack the middle of the pocket knowing this. This defense had outstanding success using a similar game plan against the Patriots two weeks ago, where they covered the center and attacked inside with Rolando McClain and Sean Lee as a different wrinkle, making the guards have to handle one-on-one blocks.
The Eagles were able to do the same thing last Monday night, and it was this scheme that made it difficult for the Giants to throw the ball. Keep on an eye on how they go after Geoff Schwartz in the middle of this line because he may struggle.
Cowboys WR Terrance Williams against Giant CBs Jayron Holsey
Jayron Holsey normally plays as the nickel corner for the Giants, but with the injury to Prince Amukamara he has had to step into the starting role.
In the past, when Holsey has had to deal with receivers that are physical off the line and into their routes, it's been a bad matchup for him. Holsey has had his days where he has struggled to play well, but last week against Philadelphia he did a much better job of handling their size.
Terrance Williams is not the most physical receiver and to be honest, he has had his share of struggles playing as the "X" in place of Dez Bryant. For Williams it's back to square one with Matt Cassel as the new starter, but I believe there is a silver lining here. There have been times in these games where he has managed to work himself open, and whether Brandon Weeden just wasn't confident enough to make the throw – he wasn't getting that opportunity.
Where I believe things will change for Williams in this matchup is that, when he beats Holsey inside or up the field, Cassel will be more willing to take that chance. For this Dallas offense to have any success these receivers are going to have to find ways to win battles on the outside. Look for Terrance Williams be that guy and get back on track against Jayron Holsey.