It is entirely possible that Dave Halprin of Blogging The Boys and I have done more “5 questions” segments than any two writers elsewhere on SB Nation. We have been doing two per year ever since I started this site back in 2007. With the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys facing off Sunday night it’s time for the latest installment of the long-running “Ed and Dave trade questions” series.
Ed: It’s easy to overreact after one week, but how concerned are you about the Dallas offense after it scored just 8 points in the season-opener?
Dave: Very concerned. It’s not just week 1, the Cowboys offense has bogged down since the middle of last season. The offensive line has not played up to its reputation and they are missing Travis Frederick for the foreseeable future. There are definitely issues up front as they are starting a rookie left guard, Connor Williams, who had some problems in Week 1 (although it was against Kawaan Short who can give anyone fits). The offensive line has to improve its play, even All-Pro Tyron Smith had a very poor game last week. The other issue is Dak Prescott. After tearing through the league his first 24 games (except against the Giants!), his last nine games have been bad. We wrote some of last year off to injury to Tyron Smith and the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott, but Week 1 was a very poor performance by Prescott. He is the central figure in all of this and it’s up to him to return to the QB who gave us such high hopes in the first 1 and 1/2 seasons, instead of what we’ve seen the last half of a season in 2017 and what we saw in Week 1.
Ed: What was your reaction to the whole “Dez Bryant and Jerry Jones together at the Beyonce concert” hullabaloo?
Dave: No reaction at all. Dez isn’t coming back to Dallas, so it was irrelevant.
Ed: Is there one matchup where you absolutely think the Cowboys have an advantage on Sunday?
Dave: DeMarcus Lawrence on Ereck Flowers, and generally the Cowboys defensive line versus the Giants offensive line. I saw some of the Giants game against Jacksonville last week and Flowers just looked terrible. That follows his generally poor work in his career, so you kind of think that’s just who the guy is. On the other hand, DeMarcus Lawrence has turned into a terror as a pass rusher and he also plays the run very well. After a breakout season last year, he followed it up with an excellent Week 1 versus Carolina, he had a sack, a fumble recovery, made tackles in the run game and was generally disruptive. He has help, too. The Cowboys defensive line has become a disruptive force and if Randy Gregory can play after a concussion in Week 1, that just adds more firepower. This is where the Cowboys should have an advantage.
Ed: Is there one matchup where you absolutely believe the Giants have an advantage?
Dave: The Giants pass receivers against the Cowboys linebackers and secondary. Any team that has Odell Beckham already has a mismatch. When you add in players like Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, that’s a threat. Plus, the Giants could work Saquon Barkley into the pass catching equation. The Cowboys linebackers and secondary are not bad in pass coverage. In fact, last week they played really well, but the Panthers don’t have the playmakers that the Giants do, especially after Greg Olsen was injured. The Cowboys secondary is young and not very deep, so if the Giants can give Eli Manning some time, they may be able to work some magic in the passing game.
Ed: You knew this one was coming. I know you would take Odell Beckham and put him in your lineup. But, he’s off the table. If you could take one Giant OTHER THAN BECKHAM and add him to the Cowboys’ roster, who would it be?
Dave: I got a few candidates in mind. Olivier Vernon is always a possibility but the Cowboys have some firepower along the defensive line. Saquon Barkley would always be a possibility, but with Zeke in the line up, running back is not a need. The Cowboys could use a boost in the pass receiving arena, and where they are really deficient is at tight end. So maybe Evan Engram would be a good pass-catching tight end option. But in the end, I think I’d take Landon Collins. The Cowboys are very thin at safety and were sort of chasing Earl Thomas this offseason, so we’ll just go ahead and get a play-making safety in Collins.