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Giants at Cowboys: Why is the Dallas defense so bad, and other questions

It’s our weekly ‘5 Questions’ segment

Cleveland Browns v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With your new York Giants facing the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday, we turn to an old friend, Dave Halprin, of Blogging The Boys to answer this week’s ‘5 Questions’ segment. Halprin and I have probably done at least one of these every year since 2007. Let’s see how this one turned out.

Ed: What kind of reception can Jason Garrett expect Sunday? How, in general, do Cowboys fans view Garrett at this point?

Dave: I don’t think there will be anything exceptional about his reception in Dallas. The players will greet him warmly as there never seemed to be any animosity between him and his players. They liked playing for him for the most part. As for the fans, most were happy that he is gone but there was never a real hate for the guy. He doesn’t have the kind of personality that rubs people the wrong way or creates animated emotion. In general, I think it will be a respectful if muted reception. Mostly Cowboys fans had just grown tired of his era in Dallas.

Ed: At 1-3, is the Mike McCarthy honeymoon phase over?

Dave: It is most definitely over. The questions about his leadership of the team and the staff he has assembled, mainly on defense, have begun. Personally I think it’s a little early to rush to judgment aboutMcCarthy in general, but some of his in-game decisions and theperformance of the defense have opened him up to criticisms. The wayhe finished in Green Bay also adds to the idea that maybe he justdoesn’t have it anymore and that he is surviving on a past reputation.His job is not in jeopardy at this point, but if the Cowboys keeplosing games and this season goes very badly, who knows how JerryJones will feel at the end of the year.

Ed: Which player on the Giants roster would you most like to add to the Dallas lineup?

Dave: Anybody on the defense. Seriously though, the Cowboys defense has been awful. James Bradberry would be a good addition to a Cowboys secondary that can’t cover. Blake Martinez would help a front seven that can’t stop the run.

Ed: I’m hearing criticism of Dallas defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Why have the Cowboys been so bad on defense up to this point?

Dave: There are a few different theories on this but the one that seems to get the most play is that Nolan has tried to install a much more complicated defense than the Cowboys players were used to, and with the COVID restrictions this offseason, they haven’t been able to get it done. The Cowboys were used to playing a very simple scheme that had few coverages, not a lot of blitzing and players lined up almost always in the same place. Nolan’s scheme mixes in 3-4 looks, has multiple coverages and various other things that require different techniques than what the Cowboys used to run. This had led to confusion, busted coverages, hesitation and indecisiveness. Nobody seems to be on the same page and it’s a bad look.

Ed: If the Giants are going to win this game what are they going to have to accomplish, both offensively and defensively?

Dave: Defensively they need to create turnovers, this is the one thing that has slowed down the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys’ problems aren’t on offense where Dak Prescott and his receiving corps are lighting things up. Even with a patchwork offensive line they still manage to put points on the board. But turnovers have been a big issue.

The Cowboys defense is very susceptible to any kind of play-fake, misdirection, etc. This defense gets out of position all the time and the secondary is always getting caught peeking into the backfield or following the play fakes. These don’t even have to be exotic fakes, just normal play-action, counters, bootlegs etc, can just kill this defense.