Giants Unfazed by New-look Cowboys Defense
If the Giants’ passing offense, which last year in two games torched the Cowboys defense for 746 yards and five touchdowns, caused the Cowboys to go out this of-season and improve their defensive secondary, then they’re taking no credit.
Instead, the Giants are looking ahead to this week’s game against the Cowboys whom they have beaten in six of the last eight meetings, the most recent victory being a 31-14 decision at MetLife Stadium which gave New York the division title.
This year, however, the Cowboys, who are sporting new cornerbacks (Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne) are looking to curtail the effectiveness of quarterback Eli Manning, who completed 63.7 percent of his pass attempts last year against them, and company.
“They’ve done some things with their personnel. They made some changes along those lines, their draft choices, what they’ve done in free agency, how they’ve gone about their business in terms of that – two guards, two corners, two guards, just to name a few,” said head coach Tom Coughlin. “They’ve looked at the areas that they felt needed to be addressed and they’ve gone ahead and addressed them.”
Based on the preseason results, at any rate, the changes seem to have helped Dallas, as their starting defense surrendered just six points in four games while their pass defense in particular combined to hold opponents to just 168.0 yards per game.
Receiver Victor Cruz seemed surprised when asked if he thought the Giants’ dominance over Dallas last year was the inspiration behind the Cowboys’ decision to upgrade their defensive backfield.
“We didn’t think about it like that,” he said. “We thought more so that they just wanted to add depth there and revive their secondary a little bit, so we didn’t think it was about us specifically. They did a good job of getting better back there, so we’ll see what happens.”
Cruz said that based on what he’s seen of them so far on film, Dallas has been using its corners a little differently than in the past.
“You can see them playing a lot of press, man a lot of different zone coverages. They’re mixing it up so they’re trying to stay off beat and not let the offense get a beat on what they’re doing so we’ll have to do a good job of watching film, picking up on tendencies and seeing what they’re doing.”
Manning, who will have to figure out what Dallas is trying to do and adjust, said he thinks the Giants have a pretty good idea of how the Cowboys might try to defend against their passing game. One such approach the Cowboys are likely to take is to bring the heat against the Giants’ signal caller, especially if their entire front seven is able to get on the field.
“You can look at their preseason games, but they didn’t show all their new tricks and blitzes and looks so their front seven is very similar,” Manning said. “They’ve added some new guys in the secondary, two new cornerbacks so they have some new people in there playing, so we’ll have to see what their approach is. We have a plan, we have an idea what we think they might do, and as the game goes, we’ll see what their plan is and adjust properly.”
In a classic example of “the early bird gets the worm,” safety Will Hill, who made the 53-man roster, said he reported to work this morning at 6:30 a.m. – almost three hours before he had to report — so he could work with the coaches to get a jump-start on learning the game plan.
“I wanted to get ahead of everyone else because everyone else is a veteran so they already know the deal, so I just tried to prepare myself as best as possible,” he said.
And now that he’s made the team, Hill said he plans to ratchet up his performance on the field because he knows that nothing is guaranteed.
“I have to go out there and get better now — gotta go out there and grind and not make then regret their decision to keep me. Right now it’s a job, so go in and take every day like it’s a job and work, and that’s it. I’m happy but then again I’m not because I still have to go out there every day and work and prove myself every day.”
Hill, who was assigned jersey number 31, last year worn by cornerback Aaron Ross, was asked about getting a number in the 20s. “It is what it is. I’d rather have a 20 something, but 30 something? I’ll take it.”
* * *
Now that the dust has settled regarding the roster, it seems that the injury situation is also starting to resolve itself.
New York, who began its preparation for its game Wednesday against Dallas, welcomed back tackle Will Beatty (back), linebacker Michael Boley (hamstring), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back), and cornerback Jayron Hosley (turf toe), all of whom missed the preseason finale against the Patriots. All of them were limited in today’s practice.
* * *
Coughlin admitted that receiver Hakeem Nicks will likely have to work through some discomfort in the foot that he broke back in May, and that it was simply a matter of Nicks managing the healing process.
“There’s some (pain), but I’m hoping that it’s not an awful lot,” Coughlin said. “I think there’s going to be discomfort as anybody that works their way back from an injury that has to do with their feet or whatever that makes their living running is probably going to fight their way through some issues and I think he’s fully intent on doing that.
* * *
Coughlin reiterated that defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who didn’t practice today, is a lot closer to making a return than some initially thought.
“(The medical staff) feels like it started to be in the positive, that he was stronger this morning upon his examination than he was, for example, last week,” Coughlin said. “We’re just trying to see on a day-by-day basis where he’s at, and if not this week, can we hope for next week. That’s where we’re at, nothing solid.”
* * *
With the roster settled, some players have relocated. Will Hill has moved into DJ Ware’s old locker. Meanwhile, Henry Hynoski said he found his locker moved across the room when he reported to work today, where he’s now next to linebacker Mark Herzlich, safety Tyler Sash and linebacker Spencer Paysinger. Tight end Adrien Robinson moved into Hynoski’s old locker.
* * *
Speaking of Ware, he signed with the Bucs, whose offensive coordinator is Mike Sullivan, formerly the Giants’ quarterbacks coach. Ware also had interest from Seattle and Oakland.
* * *
The Giants attempted to put in waiver claims for two additional players today. They include OT Willie Smith, who was waived by the Redskins and awarded to the Raiders, and safety Sergio Brown, previously with the Patriots but claimed by the Colts.