Football season is back! As the NFL season gets set to kick off tonight, we checked in with the incomparable Dan Benton at Giants 101 for this year's first Insider Report. Make sure to check back for all of your Dallas Cowboys news as they begin their quest to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
1. Ah, football is in the air! It's Week One so that can only mean Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants. Last year at this time, the New York Giants were defending Super Bowl Champions. This season they are just another squad trying to erase the memory of a disappointing campaign a season ago. Is there a palpable difference in the team's attitude this time around?
It's night and day. The Giants came in determined to repeat as champions a season ago, but failed to account for, you know, actually playing the games. Players have acknowledged multiple times that they thought it was going to come easy to them, but that's just not how it works in the NFL. This season, while they share the same confidence they had a season ago, the motivation to get out there and perform at a high level weekly seems to have returned. They also seem to be far more motivated by their failures and doubters than they were by their success and yes men. Such is the case for Big Blue historically.
2. Even though neither team has yet to play a game that counts, injuries are abundant across both squads. Who are you most worried about on the injury front?
The loss of Stevie Brown (ACL) is going to hurt more than a lot of Giants fans care to admit. He had a breakout season in 2012-2013, and was poised to not only take over as the starter, but to fill a more all-around kind of role. He had worked hard to improve his run defense, and had a year of experience in their defensive system under his belt. Without him, the team has Ryan Mundy transplanted as the starter, with only Cooper Taylor — a rookie with only a single game of experience at the NFL level — backing him up. The team will also likely use cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas at safety as necessary, but there's no denying the quality of the position took a major hit when he went down.
3. David Wilson has been handed the keys to the proverbial Cadillac this offseason. Is he ready for the spotlight? Will the loss of Andre Brown affect this team?
The loss of Andre Brown is certainly going to hurt for the first half of the season as the Giants no longer have a legitimate short yardage back, but Wilson is more than ready to handle the spotlight. The primary issues facing Wilson are his blitz pickup and ability to pass protect; and both seemed vastly improved during the preseason. As far as carrying the ball 20-25 times a game, he's probably as ready and prepared as he'll ever be. So long as Henry Hynoski returns at 100%, Wilson has the potential to catapult himself into the argument about best running backs in the game. And while some fans may scoff at that idea, I encourage them to mark this statement down and return to it 17 weeks from now.
4. Dallas is 6-0 against New York on opening day. New York is 4-0 at the newly-named AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Which trend, if either, holds a greater importance?
Neither. From a fans perspective, it's fun to rag on their opposite for those reasons listed. However, the reality is that those are ten different games played between ten different teams. On Sunday, one of those trends will continue and one of them will be broken, but neither will be because of those past ten match-ups.
5. The Giants win if…
The Giants will win if their defensive line can return to form, take advantage of a banged up and reshuffled Cowboys offensive line, and keep constant pressure on Tony Romo. The less time he has to examine the field and make play, the better off Big Blue will be. However, they're also going to need to keep contained — Romo has the ability to break the pocket and take off, keeping plays alive and moving the chains. If they're able to do that, they'll get into his head (as they would with any QB in the league) and likely force some turnovers.
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