Jason Pierre-Paul was one of the reasons that Tyron Smith was drafted by the Cowboys several years ago.
IRVING, Texas – Eli Manning has had plenty of success playing at AT&T Stadium since the Cowboys opened the building in 2009.
With Victor Cruz done for the season and Rashad Jennings ruled out for this game, however, he's going to be relying on some new faces to help him get the job done. Manning himself is always a guy to watch when the Giants come calling, as is their top pass rusher in Jason Pierre-Paul.
This week's under-the-radar player takes on new significance with the injury problems on offense, though.
Weapon: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE
Jason Pierre-Paul was one of the reasons that Tyron Smith was drafted by the Cowboys several years ago -- to handle match ups just like this one.
Pierre-Paul always has and always will be the one player on this Giants defense that you have to worry about the most in his ability to take a game over. His initial quickness, body control and bend make him a difficult defender to handle when trying to block him – not just running the ball, but on the edge as a rusher as well. His long, rangy build allows him to extend his arms and control blockers while working down the line to the ball. He does a very nice job of keeping those blockers off his body, and when he gets into position to make the tackle he has the ability to shed his man and finish the play.
As a pass rusher he rarely gives the tackle the same move twice. He can be sneaky in the way that he will start up field wide, then while putting all the tackle's weight on his upfield foot, cut back underneath to the quarterback. He is productive with his counter moves and while he is throwing them you see him continuing up the field, not slowing down one bit.
Tyron Smith understands how to play him, and that is important in the big picture. I would not be one bit surprised to see him take a snap or two over Jermey Parnell to create some pressure.
Nemesis: Eli Manning , QB
When he gets in a groove he can be very difficult to deal with.
There are few quarterbacks in this league that have played as many games at AT&T Stadium and had the success that Eli Manning has enjoyed. There is something about the matchup and the atmosphere that tends to bring out the best in him.
Manning comes into this contest wildly inconsistent with his play, but a lot of this is due to the struggles that his offensive line has had in protecting him. Manning has never been the most mobile quarterback, and when the protection breaks down it exposes him to hits and sacks that create turnovers in the pocket.
In two games I studied this week, against the Cardinals and Eagles, the ball was knocked out of his hand due to him holding on to it entirely too long waiting for a receiver to break open. Pressure tends to make him do strange things with the ball in the pocket. The more that he faces the harder it is for him to operate.
On the other side of that coin – when he is protected he can make some big time throws. He will show anticipation and accuracy. He is not afraid of throwing the ball into tight coverage on the slant or across the middle on the deep in. When he gets in a groove he can be very difficult to deal with and that is the last thing this Cowboys defense needs to see.
Under Radar: Andre Williams, RB
He is a down-after-down pounder
This was the toughest running back that I scouted coming out of the 2014 NFL Draft. He played in a Boston College offense that had poor quarterback play all season, and he faced a stacked box almost every carry and still managed to put up some amazing numbers.
He is not the fastest or quickest with the ball in his hands, but he will wear you out trying to bring him to the ground. He is a down-after-down pounder that is steady in the way that he carries the ball -- not likely to break off a bunch of long runs, but did go 60 yards for a touchdown against Virginia Tech.[embeddedad0]
Williams plays with really nice balance and can be a hard guy to knock off his feet. He has carried over that ability from college to the pros, where he can read blocks and follow them. He had no receiving yards his final year in college, so has had to develop his hands since he has been with the Giants.
He struggled in college as a pass blocker, and like his hands, is having to work hard on that technique, as well. My worry in this game would be if the Giants manage to build a lead, then they are able to just hammer the ball with Williams and wear down this Cowboys defense. He has that type of potential with his running style.