FRISCO, Texas – Typically, my go-to line is to say that these matchups change a lot from year to year.
This time around, it’s more like week to week. It’s been eight weeks since the Cowboys and Giants played for the first time this season – roughly two months. That’s a short timespan, but so much has already changed for this New York club that’s clearly in transition.
Here’s my weekly look at the upcoming opponent and everything that’s changed for them in the last two months.
Nemesis: WR Golden Tate
Golden Tate is one of the most underrated receivers in the league. His career has taken him across the league, making stops in Seattle, Detroit, Philadelphia and now New York. I have always had a great deal of respect for his game. I have always appreciated his toughness and play making ability. The bigger the game, the better he plays.
Tate was not involved the previous time these two clubs met in Week 1. He’s an outstanding route runner that puts a great deal of pressure on the defender due to his ability. He can start and stop on a dime. Just when the defender feels he’s in good position, he takes off and grabs separation. He can lull a defender to sleep, then just explode across the field.
He does some of his best work from the slot. The Giants like to put him in a bunch formation, then just allow him to scatter. If he gets one or two steps on a defender, it can be over. He’s outstanding with his hands. He can make all the catches.
Tate has always been quarterback friendly throughout his career. Daniel Jones has figured out how to use him and Jones has benefited from his play. I have seen him make difficult receptions with a lot on the line. He has always been good at catching bad balls. He can adjust to any type of ball that’s thrown. Kris Richard will have to account for him every snap.
Weapon: QB Daniel Jones
The Giants did the absolute right thing when they replaced Eli Manning with Daniel Jones. Their season was going nowhere with Manning at the controls, and moving on from him gives them a chance to fully evaluate Jones without much expectation.
The Giants’ record might not reflect it, but Jones has kept them in every game he has played. Their losses have been more about their defense than about his play. Jones has shown poise and confidence through the past month. There has been no panic or uneasiness with him under center. He has actually made more plays down the field than what we had seen from Manning.
Jones has done a nice job of allowing his play makers to assist him along the way. He throws a catchable ball that is generally on target. He gives his guys a chance and that’s all you can ask.
If Jones has had some issues, it has been when coordinators have played man coverage on him and the Giants’ receivers have struggled to separate. When that happens, he tends to hold the ball and problems develop for him in the pocket. His ball security in the pocket hasn’t been where it needs to be, and there have been some turnovers.
It’s a dangerous situation for Jones when rushers know they can get around him, swat at the ball and have a chance to knock it lose. Armed with this knowledge, I expect DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett to be in full attack mode.
Under the Radar: DE Dexter Lawrence
This rookie has improved his game since these two clubs met in Week 1. He is more active and mobile. He will line up all across the line of scrimmage.
He plays in a rotating system where he’s in for two or three plays, then off. He has been better when it comes to holding the gap. He has always been able to play with power. While he was at Clemson, he was always a hard guy to move. Not many college opponents could move him off his spot and NFL guys are experiencing that, as well. Connor Williams got a taste of that power when he was knocked back a couple of different times in Week 1. Zack Martin was able to handle him with more ease.
Lawrence has never shown many pass rush moves. He tends to get stuck on blockers in those situations, but his effort to disengage has been good. Where he’s shown up is playing on the move. His lateral quickness and mobility have been impressive. When he wants to get to a gap, he has the ability to do that. He can put the blocker in a tough spot when he makes that move. He can be a hard guy to reach or scoop block. He does a nice job of not allowing the blocker to turn him.
I’m impressed by the way he chases the ball for his size. He can get down the line without laboring. Kellen Moore will need to account for him more when running than passing the ball.