DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys have won four in a row and are sitting perched atop the NFC East, two full games ahead of their rivals after beating the New York Giants. Their only loss came against the world champions on opening night and that was a game that came down to the last possession.
Even with noticeable areas that can be refined, it’s time to start believing that this version of the Cowboys might be pretty good and that they’re one of the better teams in a stacked NFC. The offense is as advertised and the defense is getting turnovers at a high rate. Those are winning factors in today’s NFL.
Here are some things we learned in the Week 5 win over the Giants:
Don’t test Trevon Diggs
Perhaps they didn’t get the memo, but the Giants didn’t seem to fear throwing at the best cornerback on the Cowboys, and perhaps the league’s top cover man currently. Diggs came close to two interceptions in the first half before finally picking one off in the third quarter to add to his season total of six.
This might be the last game where teams force throws at Diggs. It simply isn’t a wise move to keep giving opportunities to a player who continues to shift the momentum of games. The Giants weren’t wise enough to avoid throwing in Diggs’ direction.
Dalton Schultz is the clear top tight end
If it wasn’t evident before, it should be now. The Cowboys favor Schultz over Blake Jarwin as the team’s starter. This shouldn’t be a surprise; it’s been going this way over the past few games and the disparity in touches only grew last Sunday. Schultz caught six passes for 79 yards, while Jarwin was shut out.
Schultz also out-snapped Jarwin 57-31. Prescott will throw to the open receiver and Schultz has been the preferred target over Jarwin for most of the season. Jarwin didn’t see a single target and had a three-game scoring streak broken against the Giants. If Jarwin didn’t outpace Schultz against his favorite opponent, it’s time to admit Schultz is the clear No. 1 TE for the Cowboys.
Randy Gregory dominated on the edge
He might not have gotten a sack, but Gregory was a terror coming off the edge. Gregory was too much for the Giants’ depleted offensive line to handle, putting constant pressure on the quarterback.
If Gregory doesn’t get near the NY QBs as much as he did, the pass defense might have had a rougher day.
The pressure provided from Gregory was one of the main reasons Anthony Brown was able to enjoy his fourth quarter pick-six. This game was a classic example of not needing to have a tally on the stats sheet to affect the game.
Cedrick Wilson is Dallas’ jack-of-all-trades
The Cowboys under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore have shown a lot of creativity and they use it frequently with Wilson. Against the Giants, Wilson ran the ball for six yards, had beautiful footwork on a 35-yard reception, and threw a 22-yard pass to fellow wideout Noah Brown. A better throw probably would’ve resulted in a longer gain for Brown, but the Cowboys continue to find ways to get Wilson involved.
Wilson has done a good job filling in for the injured Michael Gallup and he remains a wild card that defenses must account for when he enters the game.
Plenty to clean up
The good news is that the Cowboys did what they were supposed to do on Sunday. Dallas dominated an opponent that was undermanned and not as good. Stepping on a team’s throat instead of allowing them to have hope late in games is a quality elite teams possess.
However, the Cowboys weren’t sharp early in the game. Prescott talked about being in a “mental fog” early, which is understandable for him and his situation. Playing in the same place, nearly on the same date, against the same team as when he hurt his ankle last year had to have been difficult.
Yet Prescott and the Cowboys fought through it and won the game handily. Knowing there’s plenty to improve upon in a blowout win is something good teams do.
What is the area that you would most like to see the Cowboys improve upon after their 4-1 start? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.