Coach's Big Decision: How to attack Dallas

October, 28, 2012
10/28/12
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In the regular season opener, the Giants’ passing attack was stymied by an upgraded Cowboys secondary, garnering just 213 passing yards. No Giants receiver had more than 60 receiving yards in the game, and tight end Martellus Bennett was the only Giant to catch a touchdown pass.

A big decision for the coaching staff this week will be how to attack Dallas with the passing game this time around. A key aspect of this decision could be the absence of injured Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, who had been playing like one of the top linebackers in the league. That could allow Bennett more space to operate up the seam, which could yield big dividends if the Giants take advantage. Bennett is coming off the highest yardage output of his career last week (79).

On the outside, and in the slot, the Giants surely will hope for better results from Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, who combined for 10 catches and 96 yards in the last matchup. Cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will be on those two again, but Nicks is healthier this time around, and Cruz uncharacteristically dropped several balls in that loss. There's no reason the Giants should hesitate in getting those two the ball despite a poor Week 1 showing.

If Dallas focuses on taking Nicks and Cruz out of the game, like it has in the past, the Giants could turn to Bennett and Domenik Hixon to win their matchups. Those two are likely to see one-on-one coverage, and the Giants will need them to win those battles if Dallas bottles up Cruz and Nicks. Bennett is feeling healthier now than he has of late, and Hixon has shown why he's a very serviceable No. 3 receiver in a high-powered offense.

The Giants have never been a team that uses the screen game with running backs to attack opponents, so trying to use Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown and David Wilson won’t be something the Giants lean on for success. Last time, Giants backs caught a combined three passes. Bradshaw and Brown, who will likely see a majority if not all of the snaps at running back, will be primarily used to block Dallas' talented pass rush.

Dallas has one of the best defenses in the NFL, and the Giants are going to have to find ways to move the ball through the air. Dallas’ secondary won the first matchup against the Giants’ vertical attack, and the Giants will aim to even the score this time around. Don’t be surprised to see a different plan this time, with the Giants perhaps trying to attack up the seam more.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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