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Giants vs Cowboys

Post  56 Crazed Dogs on Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:28 pm

Here's the cowboys scouting report by Michael Eisen.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2009
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - One of the NFL's best rivalries begins a new chapter Sunday night, when the Giants will visit the Dallas Cowboys in the first-ever regular season game in Cowboys Stadium. Both teams won their season openers last Sunday as the Giants defeated Washington, 23-17, and Dallas beat the Buccaneers in Tampa, 34- 21.

The Cowboys lead the regular season series, 55-36-2, including 31-19 in games played in Dallas. The Giants won their only postseason meeting, the 2007 NFC Divisional Playoff Game. The teams split their 2008 games, with each team winning at home (the Giants, 35-14, on Nov. 2 and Dallas, 20-8, on Dec. 14).


Dallas had one of the NFL's most productive offenses on Kickoff Weekend, rolling up 462 yards, including 344 through the air. They averaged a league-best 8.9 yards a play, a big reason they won by two touchdowns despite owning the ball for seven fewer minutes than the Bucs. The Cowboys are striving for more offensive balance this season. In 2008, they ran only 42 percent of the time. At Tampa Bay, their breakdown was 24 runs and 28 passes (including one sack).

Quarterback Tony Romo is the NFL's leading passer after Week 1 with a rating of 140.6. Romo threw for a career-high 353 yards while completed 16 of 27 passes (22.1 yards a completion), three touchdowns (of 42, 66 and 80 yards) and no interceptions. Romo is 28- 12 as a starting quarterback, a .700 winning percentage that is one of the best in NFL history after 40 starts. Romo is athletic, he is difficult to contain in the pocket and he makes plays with his feet. And without Terrell Owens constantly asking for the ball, Romo is spreading his passes around. Three different receivers caught the long touchdown throws last week. Veteran Jon Kitna is Romo's backup.
The Cowboys arguably have the NFL's best group of running backs in Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Barber is a tough, hard-nosed back with good vision who rushed for 885 yards last season and 79 yards in Tampa. A good receiver and blocker on blitz pickup, Barber is physical in everything he does. Jones is battling a quad injury, but he is an explosive runner who is a legitimate threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball. Choice ran for 91 yards against the Giants last December. He took a snap in the Wildcat formation last week. Deon Anderson is an outstanding blocking fullback and powerful short-yardage runner. The Cowboys like to give him the ball on third-and-one or two.

Owens is gone, but Romo still throws to an outstanding cast of wide receivers, all of whom are at least six feet tall and give Dallas big-strike capability. Roy Williams has all the skills to be a No. 1 receiver. He's a strong player with speed who runs precise routes. Williams caught the 66-yard touchdown pass in Tampa. The starter on the other side is Patrick Crayton, whose quickness helps make him one of the league's best slot receivers. He scored on the 80-yard touchdown. Miles Austin demonstrated his strength last week when he was about three inches from the sideline and the Bucs couldn't push him out of bounds on his 42-yard touchdown reception. Sam Hurd has outstanding speed, and rookie Kevin Ogletree earned a roster spot with a terrific preseason.

Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett give Dallas the NFL's best tight end duo. Witten is probably the league's finest all-around tight end. His career totals of 434 catches and 5,006 yards are indicative of the great feel he has for the passing game. Witten is also a tough, strong blocker. The gifted Bennett might become just as good. A solid blocker with good hands, he catches the ball and shifts into high gear as quickly as anybody in the league. It's no surprise Dallas frequently employs a two-tight end set. Sixth-round draft choice John Phillips is also a good receiver.
Dallas lines up with its now-familiar offensive line, where every player is in his 30s. In 2008, left tackle Flozell Adams played in the Pro Bowl for the third season in a row and the fifth time in six years. He has rare size (6-7, 338 pounds) and plays his finest games against the best opponents. Kyle Kosier, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, has solidified the unit with his return to left guard. The Cowboys like to run to the right with a pulling Kosier leading the back. Center Andre Gurode and right guard Leonard Davis were also 2008 Pro Bowlers. Gurode is a terrific point of attack blocker, whiles Davis is a massive road grader who plays with a cranky attitude. Right guard Marc Colombo is 6-8 and is a feisty, tough blocker who sets the tone for the entire line.


The Cowboys' defense wasn't as efficient as the offense in Tampa. The unit surrendered 450 yards, the fifth-highest total in the NFL, and the Buccaneers rushed for 174 yards and averaged 5.6 yards a carry. Dallas did not have a sack nor did it force a turnover.

The defense has four new starters: Igor Olshansky has made a seamless transition to right end, where he replaces Chris Canty, now with the Giants; Anthony Spencer has stepped in at strongside linebacker for Greg Ellis; Keith Brooking has replaced Zach Thomas at inside linebacker; and former Jacksonville Jaguar Gerald Sensabaugh has taken over at strong safety for Roy Williams.
Dallas led the NFL with 59 sacks in 2008 and DeMarcus Ware set the pace with a league-high and franchise-record 20.0, the fourth year in a row he has led or tied for the team lead. Ware, the Cowboys' weakside linebacker, deserves inclusion in any discussion about the NFL's best defensive players. The fifth-year pro has never missed a game, he has 53.5 career sacks and he has played in the last three Pro Bowls. Ware is competitive and instinctive and he makes plays all over the field.

Spencer, who didn't start a game behind Ellis last season, is now an every-down player. He is a steadily-improving player, particularly as a pass-rusher. Inside linebacker Bradie James is the leader of the defense. He has led the Cowboys each of the last four seasons with more than 100 tackles. James has great speed, range and desire. Last year, his eight sacks were tops among NFL inside linebackers. Brooking joined the Cowboys this year after 11 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He has 129 consecutive starts and has played in five Pro Bowls. Brooking remains a productive player with a high-running motor. Bobby Carpenter, who has a good feel for pass defense, replaces Brooking in sub packages (where Ware and Spencer sometimes line up next to each other).

Left end Marcus Spears has played all 65 games since his arrival as a second-round draft choice in 2005. A strong and instinctive pass rusher, Spears has a knack for batting balls down at the line of scrimmage. Olshansky was a free agent who played his first five seasons in San Diego. He is a strong point-of-attack player and run- stopper. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff was a Pro Bowler in 2008, when he set career highs in tackles (83), sacks (7.5) and pressures (31). Backup Stephen Bowen finds the ball quickly and makes a good effort in pursuit. Jason Hatcher and Junior Siavii also get their share of snaps.

Terence Newman is Dallas' top cornerback, a player who often follows the opponent's best receiver all over the field. He has top-end speed and range. Mike Jenkins, last year's No. 1 draft choice, and Orlando Scandrick share the starting job on the right side. Scandrick is expected to start against the Giants. Jenkins has all the physical skills to be a very good corner. He has good recovery speed and competes in the run game. Scandrick, a fifth-round selection last year, is an exceptionally good tackler. Alan Ball is the third corner

Free safety Ken Hamlin has very good ball skills and is the quarterback of the secondary. Sensabaugh finds the ball quickly and is very aggressive against the run. Last year with the Jaguars, he had career bests in tackles (70), interceptions (four) and passes defensed (eight). Patrick Watkins stepped in when Sensabaugh left last week's game with a rib injury.

Special Teams

Punter Mat McBriar has re-established himself as one of the NFL's best punters after missing most of last season with a broken foot. He punted four times last week for a 54.8-yard gross average and a 43.0- yard net average. Kicker Nick Folk had back-to-back 100-point seasons in 2007 and 2008. Crayton and Newman are splitting the punt return duties and Jones is the kickoff returner.
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