Thoughts from Valley Ranch this week as the Cowboys prepare for Sunday's rematch with the Giants.
· Ernie Sims was signed Wednesday and hit the practice field the same day. There really isn't much time here and no bye week to work with to get him ready to play. He'll dress Sunday against the Giants and will most likely have a big role in the Cowboys' nickel packages. In games I studied of Sims, he looked comfortable in coverage, which something he will be called on to do for Dallas. These Giants running backs do a nice job of catching balls out of the backfield and on screens.
· Felix Jones was limited at practice on Thursday, which meant that Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar took most of the work with the first offense. In the season opener, the Giants gave up some runs to DeMarco Murray in "12" personnel off the edges. Would like to see head coach Jason Garrett take advantage of Jones and Dunbar's speed because the Giants linebackers struggle with quicker backs in their scheme. Tanner would be great to hammer on them as well to try and kill a game like he did last week against Carolina, but the speed of Jones and Dunbar present different problems.
· Will be interesting this week to see if coordinator Rob Ryan once again comes up with a package that uses five and six defensive backs. The Giants can hit you with three wide receivers and tight end Martellus Bennett as a downfield player. Last week, Ryan treated tight end Greg Olsen as a receiver when he put cornerback Mike Jenkins on him for a play. Orlando Scandrick will continue to play the slot which means he will be on Giants receiver Victor Cruz. Ryan then can use Jenkins, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr any way he wants to handle the other Giants weapons. Carr and Jenkins could take Hakeem Nicks and Bennett with Claiborne covering the third receiver. The good thing with all this is that Ryan has options.
· Coaches have continued to have confidence in wide receiver Kevin Ogletree while those outside the organization scream for someone other than him in the lineup. Ogletree had a career game against the Giants, which shut up guys like me, but even afterward, I asked that we see more consistency going forward. Ogletree has done a nice job of getting open, but he needs to do a better job of finishing plays … or the coaches will find someone that will. I don't believe that this is the week for Cole Beasley, so if they have to go with another guy over Ogletree in the game, my guess is it would be Dwayne Harris.
· The Cowboys, offensively, were able to make plays against the Giants on opening night that were backbreakers. Since then, though, there have been struggles to finish plays with too many opportunities left on the field. There are those that have been critical of Garrett and his play-calling, and while I am not here to give him a pass, when he dials up one that actually does break clean, his players need to finish the job. That includes his quarterback on the corner route in the end zone or the wide receiver on the fade. The Cowboys can't expect to beat the Giants if they are going to leave plays on the field in all three phases of the game. How well they execute will determine the outcome.