LOVE my defense!
Some defensive cut ups from a very impressive 2012 debut performance.
Greybeards no more!
We've all wondered the last 12 months if inside linebacker Bruce Carter was worth the investment. He cost Dallas a 2nd round pick and kept the team waiting. Would be be big enough to play inside, after playing the weakside in a 4-3 scheme? Would he have the explosion that made him such a top prospect before he tore an ACL late in his senior season?
Last night showed a speedy, powerful complement to Sean Lee. Here's an early Giants power run which showed both inside backers at their best. The Giants are trying to escape their own red zone and call power-O to their right. Ahmad Bradshaw will follow right guard Chris Snee (76) and fullback Henry Hynoski (45) to the left edge:
Lee rushes in to stymie Snee, while Carter (54) stands up Hynoski and slides off the fullbacks block when Bradshaw tries bouncing to the outside:
Two major collisions in the hole. Two wins by the Cowboys inside 'backers. No gain for the Giants.
I think most Cowboys fans were relieved to see the defense move beyond last year's incumbent ILBs Bradie James and Keith Brooking. Many of the same fans were eager to see the line discard the older vets Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears. Rob Ryan and his line coach Brian Baker kept them, feeling they could trust the older hands in critical situations.
Last night, the older guys combined with the kid nose tackles Josh Brent and Sean Lissemore to repel two Giants goal-line runs, when the score was 0-0. Note the layout of Dallas' goal-line front:
New York has three tight ends in the contest, but their strong side is their left, where Martellus Bennett (85) sits. The Cowboys have DeMarcus Ware in a rare four-point stance head up against his old teammate. Inside of Ware are the two nose tackles, Lissmore and Brent and on the weak-side the old ends Spears and Coleman. The Giants want to pull left guard Kevin Boothe (77) out and have him and Henry Hynoski lead the back to the perimeter:
The Cowboys win this play across the line, starting with Ware. Watch how he turns Bennett inside and stays on the tight end's outside shoulder, turning the run back inside, where there's fierce pursuit from Spears, who has avoided David Diehl's (66) attempt at a cutback. Spears leaps over a scrum and closes on Ahmad Bradshaw. Look at Bradshaw's predicament in sequence still three. He's surrounded by a ring of Cowboys:
Spears arrives first, but Lee and Josh Brent quickly join Spears in the fun. Another Giants run goes backwards:
Quick Thinking from the DC
The Giants tried catching Rob Ryan with a big pass on their 2nd possession. They lined up Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz in a left slot and had the two of them criss cross, with Nicks picking Brandon Carr. The deep crossers are an old Tom Coughlin tactic. Chris Palmer called them for Jimmy Smith when he was Coughlin's OC in Jacksonville.
The tactic worked effectively the first time Dallas saw it. Rob Ryan had his corners in press, so Nicks was able to lock up Carr and Orlando Scrandrick. Had Dallas blitzed and had a single safety deep, Cruz may have run up the left sideline for a score:
On subsequent series, Ryan and D-back coach Jerome Henderson had their corners play off the ball, meaning the outside Giants receiver could not engage a defender. New York kept calling these scissors route combos but they never worked as well again:
Defensive Man of the Match -- Orlando Scandrick. Poor Orlando took a lot of media grief for his goal-line grab of Victor Cruz late in the 2nd quarter. A review of the game reveals that Scandrick blanketed Victor Cruz for much of the game with strong, consistent underneath coverage. Cruz helped with some drops, but Scandrick did a fine job on his own.
Next: A closer look at Jason Witten's busy night.