Dallas Cowboys Defense Needs a Fast Start Against New York Giants
The Dallas Cowboys have gone to great lengths this offseason to overhaul their secondary and improve their pass rush. After several soul crushing losses in 2011, in which they relinquished sizeable leads in the fourth quarter, Dallas hopes to field a top 10—possibly even top five—defense this season.
It will take that kind of defense for the Cowboys to have a prayer of winning the NFC East and advancing in the playoffs.
Should they win the coin toss to start the season, they should defer and allow their new defense to get right to work.
Yes, the argument can be made that taking the ball and scoring on the first drive would put pressure on the Giants, but Eli Manning doesn't seem to be too susceptible to that kind of psychological pressure. This guy has won two Super Bowls by leading his team back from behind.
Adrenaline is at its peak right after kickoff and too much is very bad for shaky offensive linemen. Conversely, you can never get too much if you are a pass-rusher or run-stuffer.
Letting the Dallas defense take the field and go after Manning would be an excellent way to set the tone for the season. With any luck, the Giants' tackles will be unprepared for the intensity Dallas will bring and the Cowboys will start the year with a sack.
The first message that Dallas needs to send Manning is that he won't have all day to find receivers against this defense. He already knows that he will have to be more careful with the upgraded secondary and interceptions they accumulated in the preseason.
Having Manning hold the ball a split second longer may be the tipping point Dallas has been seeking with their pass rush.
Allowing the defense to go out and get a stop should help calm down the Cowboys offensive line for its first series as well.
Bill Callahan had his work cut out for him with Dallas' line this summer but he is an excellent coach and my guess is the Cowboys line will do fine. Not great but good enough. I'm sure they will give up sacks—everyone gives up sacks to the Giants—but I believe they will protect Romo enough for him to make the plays that need to be made.
I base this not on sheer start-of-the-season-optimism but on the fact that Romo has done it before with a shaky offensive line. In last year's first game against the Giants, Romo had his team at a 34-22 lead, deep in the fourth quarter.
Trouble was, the secondary gave it all up. Dallas didn't record a single sack in that game, either.
One thing that has been consistent about Dallas has been their ability to move the ball and score points. Despite the Giant's impressive front four, Dallas will have it's chances to put up points in this game.
The thing that needs to change is the defense. They need to get stops when it really counts.
Which is why they should go do it to start the game.
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