The Dallas Cowboys came into Sunday Night Football against the New York Giants looking to prove a point. After spending an entire offseason being hyped up as one of the top teams in the NFC, it was put up or shut up time against a Giants team that made the playoffs.
Consider the statement made.
Dallas dominated the Giants to the tune of 40-0, and it was once again their defense that led the way. Dallas had seven sacks, two interceptions, a pick six and a blocked kick returned for a touchdown. That’s a preposterous level of defensive dominance that we might not see again in the NFL this year, and the Cowboys did it Week 1.
Digging deeper into the stats, it was an even worse game for New York. Per ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the Giants offense only rivaled the 2020 Denver Broncos when led by noted non-QB Kendall Hinton.
Giants on Sunday night against the Cowboys: -23.8 offensive EPA
That Broncos game from the COVID year where Kendall Hinton played quarterback against the Saints: -23.7 offensive EPA
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell)
What the Cowboys did was a testament to the overall team speed and aggression Dan Quinn installs in that defense. With a lead pass rusher like Micah Parsons, the Cowboys can do anything they want up front on passing downs, and were able to get pressure from everywhere. Quinn loves to set up pressures to get 5-0 protection from the offensive line, meaning that every lineman has the man in front of them to block, and cannot help. With the depth they have up front, it allows Quinn to play iso ball and get his best pass rushers matchups against the offensive line’s weakest link.
Against New York, they found that link on the second drive of the game.
On this Micah Parsons sack, the Cowboys have LB Leighton Vander Esch walked up over the left guard, causing a 5-0 call from the line. TE Daniel Bellinger is in as a check release. At the snap, Vander Esch drops into coverage, basically eliminating a pass blocker. The Giants keep Bellinger in to assist on the edge as RT Evan Neal shoves Parsons to knock him off course, but that only gives Parsons the RG’s inside shoulder, and a free lane to the QB. Because there’s no help, Jones is left on an island.
Dan Quinn did a lot of matchup hunting for the Cowboys DL vs. the Giants last night. Lining up Parsons inside, then having LVE walk up over the guard forces into a man protection after the TE check releases. The shove on Parsons actually helped him a lot lol pic.twitter.com/3IsKjslYIB
— JP Acosta (Pug Dederson Stan Acct) (@acosta32_jp)
On a play before halftime, the Cowboys are in a four man front, with Parsons again on the inside. This isn’t a designed stunt, but look at the attention Parsons draws when Quinn matchup hunts. It allows DT Osa Odighizuwa a free run at the QB, and another sack.
On top of that, the team speed for the Giants at every level was terrifying. Dallas came into the game dressing out a whole lot of safeties, and that speed was evident at the second level. The Giants wanted to isolate Darren Waller a lot and give him option routes, but the Cowboys secondary was too talented, and were all over what the Giants tried to do.
New York motions Waller and gets a zone tell from the Cowboys, because they bump the coverage instead of running with Waller. At the snap of the ball, the outside receiver takes a vertical release and Waller gets an option route underneath against Juanyeh Thomas. Thomas makes a great break on the ball and gets the PBU, destroying what the Giants thought would be easy offense.
This is what Dallas can do defensively that should terrify NFC teams. Their ability to get consistent pass rush from every defensive linemen on the roster stacked on top of their speed and versatility on the back end makes them tough to scheme against and plan for. The Cowboys wanted to prove that they were the class of the NFC, and on Sunday night, they made their emphatic case.
This content was originally published here.