IRVING, Texas – For the first time this year, we're looking at the opposition for the second time.
The Cowboys opened their season against the Giants, and it's fair to say things have changed a bit for both teams in the five weeks since then. I wanted to switch things up for our second breakdown, so here is a new look at the three guys I'm focusing on for New York ahead of Week 7.
Nemesis: Cullen Jenkins, DE
My first thought is that he is playing out of place as a defensive end, but that's really not the case at all. Giants coaches are moving him all over the defense to allow him to be disruptive. He is the type of player that requires attention due to his ability to beat blocks consistently and finish plays.
Jenkins has nice short-area foot quickness and a burst for a player his size. Very good reactionary athlete with get-off. He gets into the blocker in a hurry, and he is always attacking – makes plays as a one-gap penetrator. If he can get the arm-over, he is going to have a shot to finish the play. Jenkins plays with body control and balance. More upright as a rusher than playing with bend in his lower body. Can really control the blocker with his hands. Good upper body power and snap. Plays with some strike and explosive quickness.
He can really anchor down at the point of attack -- hard guy to move off the spot. Effort and pursuit when the play goes away from him. Shows range. Not the kind of player that allows grass to grow under his feet. Tough, hard-nosed player. Can bring a ball carrier down in space or a quarterback in the pocket. Didn't see him miss many tackles. Will key and diagnose play quickly. Hard guy to fool. Plays with discipline.
Weapon: Shane Vereen, RB
The things that stand out about Vereen to me are an outstanding football intelligence and a willingness to compete. He's very steady in the way he plays. He understands his role and how he functions in it.
I would not say he has good playing speed – more adequate than anything else. There' some initial quickness and burst, which helps him get through the hole or around the corner. Nice short-area foot quickness and lateral agility. He plays with balance – rare to see him get knocked off his feet. Good hips and change of direction. Shows the ability to create opportunities on his own. He can make the first man miss, and he plays with surprising upper and lower body power.
He can run through arm tackles – you need to put a shoulder into him and wrap up his legs. Nice patience and pace as a runner. Will allow blocks to develop before he makes his move. Will protect the ball – good security. Shows awareness as a pass protector. Smart to pick up the blitz when required to do so. Shows toughness to finish his blocks. Outstanding receiver out of the backfield. Dependable hands.
As has been noted, Vereen is used wide in the formation as a receiver. You have to be ready for him to catch a screen or two out of the backfield. He has a feel for how to work himself open in the route, and he will finish with the ball in his hands.
Vereen sees action when the Giants need to convert on third down – he's just as much of a problem here as Odell Beckham Jr. He's a complete player in every sense of the word and has to be accounted for.
Under the Radar: Will Tye, TE
This is an interesting player with a unique skillset. He won't be like the typical tight ends that the defense has faced during the year. He is really built like a big running back with wide receiver-type hands.
Tye move all over the formation for the Giants – he plays inline, flexed and out of the backfield. He shows initial quickness and a burst off the line. He won't wow you with fancy moves or smoothness, but he will adjust his routes to put himself in position to receive the ball. Works well in space. Good change of direction and balance. Has the ability to find openings in the secondary. Is always on the move.
Whomever in the secondary draws the assignment of carrying Tye, he will be all over the field. This guy is not the best blocker at the point of attack, but they use him like he is. If you follow him, you will usually be around the ball. You have to be especially ready when he lines up on one side of the formations and goes the opposite direction of the flow.
He's dangerous when they use him in boots or waggles, and Eli Manning is not afraid to throw him the ball. Has the ability to finish and like Shane Vereen, he needs to be accounted for.