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Cowboys vs. Giants, Week 1: Notes on Dallas Defense

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Frank Heinz, NBC DFW

    The Cowboys’ defense got the job done against the Giants in Week 1, but that doesn’t mean they actually played well. The results—six takeaways—look pretty on paper, but most of them were just the result of a fortuitous bounce of the ball (or a boneheaded decision from Eli Manning). In reality, the Cowboys allowed 450 yards passing. Don’t get me wrong—the takeaways were valuable and awesome to see—but they won’t last. What happens when this defense forces just a single turnover? Can they still hold a team to 20 points?

    - I thought Barry Church was the MVP for the Cowboys’ defense. He had eight tackles, a forced fumble, and of course the big fumble recovery for a touchdown. He has the potential to be really productive in Monte Kiffin’s defense.

    - Opposite Church, Will Allen had a rough game. He had an interception, although that had more to do with Manning than anything else. Allen was targeted four times on the night, allowing three catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. It’s really a shame that Matt Johnson is down for the year. The Cowboys need to find a way to cover up their weakness there.

    - Morris Claiborne played really poorly even before suffering his shoulder injury. He gave up six catches for 139 yards on nine targets. On the other side, Brandon Carr was outstanding. In addition to the pick six, Carr gave up just 52 yards on six attempts. But Orlando Scandrick—one of the most underrated players in Dallas—probably played the best of all three cornerbacks, allowing just 26 yards on four attempts. He did give up a touchdown—the first he’s surrendered since 2011.

    - I love watching George Selvie. If Anthony Spencer can’t go this weekend, I don’t really think there’s much of a drop behind him. Pro Football Focus tracked Selvie at four pressures, two hits, and a sack. He was also stouter than normal against the run. The signs of potential greatness are there, so I’m excited to see what Selvie can do if given more playing time.

    - Sean Lee had only five tackles on the night, partly because the Giants didn’t run many offensive plays. He also gave up just two completions for 13 yards on four targets. Meanwhile, Bruce Carter had eight tackles and allowed 61 yards on nine attempts. It will be interesting to watch those two battle throughout the year to lead the team in tackles.