Skip to main content

Scout's Eye: Steve Spagnuolo Knows How To Limit Cowboys' Offense

(Editor's Note: The staff of is breaking down all of the possible matchups the Cowboys could draw in the divisional round of the playoffs. With that in mind, we asked Bryan Broaddus to watch some film and help break down the opposition. His look ahead continues with the New York Giants.)

FRISCO, Texas – Nobody should need a reminder about the New York Giants and what they can do.

As we sit right now, the Giants are one of just two teams to beat the Cowboys this season – and the only one that has beaten the Cowboys' starters. With the possibility that the Cowboys host the Giants in the second round of the playoffs, here's a closer look at what we might expect from a third meeting.

New York Giants: Good Matchup

Despite having explosive weapons like Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz, this offense has its share of struggles.

They don't run the ball with any success, they don't convert third downs and they don't score points.  As a team they're averaging 88 rushing yards a game. That means that only 39 percent of the time are they even successful gaining four or more yards. For the season, the Giants have only had 30 rushes that have resulted in a gain of 10-plus yards.

Just for comparison, the Cowboys have 40 more snaps in the same category. If you can get the Giants in third down situations, you have a chance to get them off the field. It doesn't matter if it's short, medium or long yardage situations, they struggle to convert. Opponents have held them right around 35 percent for the season, which means they also face a lot of three-and-outs.

When you are struggling to sustain drives, you're going to struggle to finish drives with points. For the year, the Giants have only scored an average of 17 points a game. In the last eight games, that average has gone up slightly to 18 points -- but still below the league average of 21 points per game. It is these offensive struggles that give you a chance against the New York Giants.

New York Giants: Bad Matchup

The New York Giants are a bad matchup for this team because of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo – plain and simple. His ability to create game plans and have his players execute them has been impressive.

As bad as New York's offense has been, their defense has been just as good. They've been put in some terrible situations all season and have stood the test. Their best trait as a unit is that they just don't allow opponents to score. In their last eight games, they've allowed an average of 15 points per game. Opponents only score touchdowns 30 percent of the time when they get inside the Giants' 30-yard line.

Just to give you an idea, the league average is right at 47 percent.

When opponents do get in the red zone, they're only converting 26 percent of the time on third downs. The Giants do a great job of ending drives and making you attempt field goals. Their front four of Olivier Vernon, Johnathan Hankins, Damon Harrison and Kerry Wynn is difficult to handle, especially in the running game. Their linebackers are physical and they cover in the back end.

The addition of Landon Collins two years ago has paid huge dividends in the way Spagnuolo runs his scheme. He is a head hunter in the running game and has the awareness to be a factor when opponents attempt to pass. Spagnulo's work in Week 14 was a clinic in how to defend this Dallas offense.             


This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content