Taylor Williams

Takeaways From The Cowboys-Giants Opener

Created on Sept. 12, 2013 5:00 AM EST

Defensive Identity

Of all the preseason memes, this one seems to hold the most water. Forget yards — this defense thrives on momentum, as generated by turnovers, sacks and big hits. The fact that New York managed 31 points despite six turnovers is disconcerting, but the Dallas defense was true to its style and good enough to keep the offense ahead all game.

The takeaways do tell the story of the game, but they also illustrate a big, understated defensive asset: ball skills. No drops on Eli Manning’s bad throws, no clumsiness on fumble recoveries — this group supplements natural ball-hawking with pure coordination and awareness in the moment.

The big plays were flukes, attributable to badly blown coverages. But the Giants had little trouble advancing the ball with quick slants and short in-routes, ultimately netting 21 first downs — 18 on passing plays.

Bottom line: Eliminate the cushion underneath without compromising safety play in the deep third and the secondary becomes the final touch to a complete package.

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