By Curt Macysyn
The Dallas Cowboys are ready to forget their .500 record last season at they’re starting off the 2013 season against a Giants team that had a shaky preseason. It will be a showdown for these two rivals and Dallas has been making some offseason changes to help their cause.
There are many new aspects to the Dallas Cowboys, not the least of which is the new name attached to their playing field. Called Cowboys Stadium when it was opened in 2009, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones struck a multi-million dollar naming rights deal with telecommunications giant AT&T this summer. Jones can only hope that AT&T Stadium will be friendlier to the home team, especially in its battles with the New York Giants. The Giants are undefeated (4-0) in the new stadium in Arlington, TX where the team moved after playing for 37 years in Irving, TX.
A New Defensive Philosophy
Also, after two years of coordinating the defense for the Cowboys, Rob Ryan was let go this past off-season, and replaced by veteran defensive coach Monte Kiffin. Ryan took his blustery style and 3-4 defense to New Orleans, where he now is defensive coordinator for Sean Payton’s Saints.
The 73-year old Kiffin has 47 years of coaching experience at the pro and college levels, and he immediately installed his patented 4-3 Cover-Two defense, in place of Ryan’s complex 3-4 defense that was high risk, but not high reward.
Kiffin was the architect of the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that held opponents to 196 points that season, a mere 12.3 per game average. Kiffin’s Pewter Power defense intercepted the Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon five times, en route to a 48-21 rout in Super Bowl XXXVII.
According to NFL.com, the Cowboys ranked 21st in the NFL in yards allowed per game (294.8 yards per game), while giving up an average of 25 points per games, ranked 24th in the league. Dallas also had the fewest interceptions of any team in the NFC with seven.
Meanwhile, the New York Giants Eli Manning struggles when pressured, and statically, Manning has averaged more than one interception per game for his career (144 interceptions – 138 games played). By comparison, the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers averages less than half of the number of interceptions per game than Manning does (85 games – 46 interceptions).
The Offensive Threat
Offensively, the Cowboys rely on veteran quarterback Tony Romo and a talented cast of receivers including Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten. Witten is in his 10th season and gets better with age. The former Tennessee Volunteer hauled in a personal best 110 catches last season and usually saves some of his best performances for the rival Giants. In two games against the G-men last year, Witten caught 20 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown, as Dallas split two games with New York.
As far as the ground attack goes, Dallas has handed the keys to often-injured and inconsistent running back DeMarco Murray. Murray has missed nine of 32 games with the Cowboys and was benched briefly in the third preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals for fumbling.
NFL Network’s Terrell Davis was not glowing in his description of Murray when breaking down the Giants-Cowboys match-up yesterday. About Murray, Davis said, “Assume he stays healthy, he’s very consistent at being inconsistent. Here’s the guy that makes the big runs and makes big yardage on the play. But the other thing about him is he leaves a lot of yardage on the field.”
The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys kick off their respective seasons in prime time at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday night, September 8.
For more news and updates, visit New York Giants Central