Earlier, I gave Jason Garrett three specific strategies for how to best attack the New York Giants in Wednesday night's season opener at MetLife Stadium. And so in the interest of balance, here are some of the keys to success Tom Coughlin and the Giants should consider using against the Dallas Cowboys.
Surge Up the Middle
It's no secret that one of the keys to beating the Cowboys is getting to Tony Romo, and the best way for the Giants do that is to push up the middle.
The G-Men will likely use a lot of their three-headed pass-rushing monster, with Jason Pierre-Paul stunting inside to replace the injured Chris Canty. The beautiful thing about inside pressure is that it also forces backs to bounce outside. That can be dangerous at times, but rushing averages tend to drop off in those situations.
Of course, it's vital to get pressure in general. And with Jason Witten a huge question mark, it'll be harder for the Cowboys to lend help to tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free, who swapped spots in the offseason and could be in for a tough night against Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Co.
That pressure will be useless if they can't stop DeMarco Murray, though, which is why said pressure has to come from different spots.
Target Morris Claiborne
The draft's most highly touted rookie has the tools to become a star one day, but that day might not be Wednesday. Rookie cornerbacks often struggle to get acclimated, and Eli Manning is the kind of veteran quarterback who knows how to take advantage of unprepared defenders.
His offensive line isn't exactly stellar, but it's healthier now than last year, and the Cowboys won't have Jay Ratliff up front. That could hurt Dallas' pass rush just enough to give Manning the time to target whomever he has running against Claiborne. If it's Victor Cruz, the Cowboys are in big trouble. But regardless of who's lining up opposite Claiborne, Eli has to look that way early and often.
Claiborne missed organized team activities after undergoing offseason wrist surgery, struggled early in training camp, missed a week this summer due to a sprained MCL and then played sparingly throughout the preseason. Dallas has no idea what it's going to get from the LSU product early on, but the Giants would be crazy not to put him to the test.
Lock Down on Dez
The Giants have to make Miles Austin or DeMarco Murray beat them. Austin missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury and isn't 100 percent. As a result, Corey Webster should be assigned to Bryant often, and he'll need help.
Webster is the Giants' top corner by a wide margin, but Bryant dominated him in the 2011 season finale, as the second-year wideout caught five passes against him, according to Pro Football Focus. The Giants have little choice but to keep Webster on Bryant as often as possible, but they'd be smart to ensure that safety help is there when the personnel is right.
The great advantage is that Austin might require less attention and Witten won't require any attention if he doesn't play. The bad news is that the Giants are thin in the secondary and don't have any linebackers capable of lending much of a hand in covering a specimen like Bryant.
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