Grading the Cowboys’ defensive performance against the Giants


Each week I will grade the Cowboys’ previous game position by position. After systematically dismantling the New York Giants in all three phases of the game Sunday night, this week’s report card is certainly refrigerator worthy. Hats off to Pro Football Focus for the stats and graphics.

Defensive Line: B

While the Giants offensive line is below average at best, the Cowboys defensive line was able to generate some consistent pressure on Eli Manning. Demarcus Lawrence had Eli Manning picking himself up off the AT&T Stadium turf before the Giant offensive line could even finish their intros on the television broadcast. Lawrence set the tone with his dominant first quarter.

Seeing his first regular season game action as a member of the Cowboys, Charles Tapper also recored his first sack as a professional. PFF rated him as one of the top edge rushers of week 1.

Linebackers: A

Seeing Jaylon Smith put on the Cowboys uniform would be enough to warrant an A here, but Sean Lee paired with Smith backed this grade up with their play on the field. Lee was an animal, securing a team high 8 tackles with one tackle for loss. His efforts earned him the PFF game ball.

Smith certainly looked well on his way to regaining most of that athletic prowess he possessed at Notre Dame. Smith was second on the team in tackles to Lee, with 7. The duo combined to make 15 stops on the night.

Secondary: A

Giants head coach Ben McAdoo may not have been sure who the Cowboys defensive backs were a few days ago, but I bet he knows their names now. Despite facing a Giants offense without Odell Beckham Jr., the back half of the Dallas defense put the clamps on New York’s receiving corps. With Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and first round pick Evan Engram still in the fold, it’s not like the Giants were running with a bunch of bums. Early signs are positive for the revamped secondary, and things should only continue to improve as the neophytes continue to gain experience. Orlando Scandrick left the game with what turned out to be a broken hand, however Anthony Brown did an excellent job filling in.

The Cowboys defense got off to a great start in week one as the Giants offense didn’t even cross their own 35 yard line until mid way through the 3rd quarter. Dallas will travel to Denver next week to take on another average offensive team in the Broncos. Hopefully the young defense will continue to gel and improve as the season goes on. If they do, there could be something very special brewing in Big D.

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